Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Standing Desk.


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Fellow PC gamers and Geeks alike, I have important information for you. It is entirely possible that you, do in fact fact sit down far too much!  - I know, Shocker right?

Personally I work in an office all day, that means that I spend a lot of time sitting down while I make spreadsheets and edit documents and, in my case, stamp things. Then being a pretty dedicated computer geek I often come home and sit my bum down in a chair while I mess with Python code and play video games. Now like many of you fellow geeks I do occasionally get up and make a pot of tea (how very English I am) or decide to sit on the sofa and read or maybe watch a movie. The problem here however is that all of my hobby or entertainment activates involve sitting down. Sure get out most days, maybe go the shops, take a walk with my daughter but every day at some point I'll sit down at my desk (damn you reddit)

There are stacks of websites telling you why you shouldn't sit down all day. Most of them agree that even going the gym regularly will not counteract the damage done by extended time in a chair. One website I found even said that sitting for six hours or more a day was as detrimental to health as smoking a pack a day. I think that's an over estimation myself but it is logical to assume that sitting is not the natural posture of the human. This is when I encountered a solution - The Standing desk.

I know, all desk stand. The standing desk however is a desk that you stand at, rather than sit at. I gave the concept a week or so to roll around my head. Standing as apposed to sitting means that I would naturally move around more, and be more ready for activities when leaving my desk. It would not doubt ensure I will burn more of the often touted calories each day (how much of a difference this is, I think is  actually debatable) and most of all every research document or article that I encountered said that it helps keep a healthy metabolism.

I decided to do it, to stand at my desk from now on. I trekked to my local Ikea store in search of extra long legs for my desk. The little nugget of information I forgot was that I am actually very tall and so, they had nothing suitable. In the end I found some rather heavy duty shelving items at a hardware store (it was B&Q in case your wondering)
I got two large 'Flexi Brackets and two wall mounting 'Flexi' branded upright rails to hang them off. Luckily these brackets run about three quarters the depth of my desktop so support is great. I took the legs off my trusty Ikea desk (I have had this wood surface for a while now and its always been great) after some measuring and rather professional looking drilling I had my desk mounted to the wall (Sounds easy but my wall is not straight so I had to 'adjust' the brackets a lot, also please note that 'Flexi' Brackets are total rubbish, don't buy them if you do this)

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My desk is high enough that when I stand at it I can rest my arms on it level (as shown in image below that I found on  Google.) I did try it a little lower but I started leaning forward almost instantly (not good posture) My actual desktop is pretty sparse, two monitors, keyboard and mouse. I also have a bizarrely tiny set of draws on my desk that I keep memory sticks in oh, and a microphone on a stand so I'm not too concerned about the weight on my brackets, also being on stands the monitors put all the weight is at the back of the desk, pretty good from a stability point of view.

You will notice that I have not added any pictures of my desk to this post, well that's because its not tidy enough for /r/battlestations just yet (that was a reddit joke by the way) I have had to put an old table under my standing desk to house my PC and amp/effects panel, as well as a few more little items as I no longer had space for a shelf above my desk. As soon as i get some free cash i am going to get a large cupboard with closing doors to house all this stuff neatly. Once it looks nicer I'll post those pictures.

Well, that's how I built the desk, but what do I think of it? It's day two of standing and now I have the height just right its not at all unpleasant to use. I do find myself moving about far more at my desk. I also find myself moving away from my desk more as I'm not tied to a chair. I'm already standing so it takes no effort at all to pop over to the other side of the room or wonder off to another task. I have a hard floor under a thin carpet so the biggest challenge has been on the bottom of my feet. I think I may invest in a good quality yoga mat to stand on while I work and game (or an epic pair of super soft slippers)

So far, I still think that I made a good decision to get my rear out of a seat for far more time every day. Also, it means that I appreciate my seated time far more, instead of it just being the default posture. Gaming while standing it actually really good too, where as before I would find myself very sleepy after a few hours of gaming the standing desk forces me to stay more alert and also forces me to quit when I'm sleepy for real.

Also, if you think a standing desk is a daft idea that's fine but here are some people who thought differently:
  • Sir Winston Churchill
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Ernest Hemmingway
  • and, lets not forget penguin master himself,  Linus Torvalds

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