Avoid heart disease, lose weight, feel more awake - all simply by standing. There are respected studies that point to sitting as the cause of poor health with some even calling it the new smoking. But fear not, a cure is already here.
For those that aren't on their feet at work, the dreaded desk may be more than just a source of mental woe. Sitting for too long during the working day has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and poor mental health. Even if you cycle to work, long periods of sitting may be affecting your health.
Tech to the health rescue
So what's tech doing to solve the problem? Many activity trackers will now notify you when you've been still too long so you can go for a walk. But in reality when you're busy a wrist chirp or vibration may go ignored. Standing is the key.
Standing desks are now more readily available than ever before with options that will turn your current desk into a stand-friendly workstation. Working in an office or at home there are options to upgrade and kick that sedentary habit.
The stand-up desk
We've been using a standing desk for a few months now and have noticed the difference hugely.
At first the standing left the lower back a little sore but that was just from lack of use – now the problems occur when sat for too long. A great motivator to keep active then.
The Varidesk Pro Plus is one possible solution. It's a hefty unit that sits on your current desk and uses a spring and lever system to heighten and lower. That means you can have a keyboard nearby for typing while using your laptop or monitor on the higher desk so as to offer the best angle for your neck.
We added a Bluetooth Logitech mouse and keyboard to our setup as using a laptop on the lower level was a bit awkward. That said the lower level can be removed to get closer to the main desk should you wish to.
But what does this setup do?
In our experience of working standing up we've definitely had more energy throughout the day. That 4pm lull that demands coffee? That's gone.
While this is all subjective we also found it easier to focus while standing up. At first we were conscious of standing to the point of distraction, but after a few days it becomes natural – because it is.
According to Get Britain Standing, an extra 50 calories is burned per hour when standing, over sitting. We have noticed hunger kicks in a little stronger and we're able to eat more without being full. Bonus.
A study by Get Britain Standing and the British Heart Foundation found that standing for 30 minutes more a day can burn 2.4kg of weight a year. Imagine what standing most of the day does.
Monitor and wireless setup
By using a stand-up desk you no longer need to hunch in front of a laptop or webcam while in conferences or on Skype calls.
In our setup we used a ViewSonic VG2437S which comes with a webcam built-in. It can be twisted or tilted so it sits at the perfect height allowing you to work all day without neck injury. We have noticed lower back pains when working looking down at the laptop, which went away when using the monitor on the stand-up desk.
Also standing up while on a webcam makes you feel more alert and more engaged, at least in our experience.
We paired this with a wireless keyboard and mouse combination from Logitech. The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard works well with our Mac thanks to dedicated keys. Plus the solar panel means it doesn't need to be charged. This is ideal on the stand-up desk as it gets plenty of light but can also be left on and moved if we want to work elsewhere for a while.
The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse for Mac means no wires so it can be used on either level of the desk without needing to move a cable, even when height is changed to suit another user.
If you're at a desk all day it seems obvious that it can't be good for your health. Standing up and moving isn't always possible. So a standing desk setup seems like an easy way to burn more calories, up energy levels, take the pressure off your back and apparently fend off diseases.
In our experience it was initially a little odd and took some getting used to. Now we'd never let ourselves sit at a desk all day again. Not only because we have more energy and feel more flexible but because we've got used to enjoying eating those extra calories.
With stand-up desks starting at £275 in the UK we'd say it's a great investment in your health that'll get a lot more use than that unloved activity tracker by your bed or those running trainers that still look new.