Reducing sitting and increasing movement in the workplace are seen as ways to tackle some of the health problems that have been linked with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. For an overview of the evidence that links sitting and inactivity with poor health see this brief article Stand up while you read this by Olivi Judson in the New York Times. One approach that we can take for ourselves and suggest to our patients is the use of an adjustable standing desk.
My own working day involves many hours spent sitting in an office working on a computer so I decided to try a standing desk for myself. Following an initial review of the options available I chose the Varidesk Single because it is a relatively low cost and low tech product which can be used with existing office furniture while still offering a wide range of height adjustability.
The Varidesk Single is classed as a Desktop Riser rather than an adjustable height desk. It is a substantial unit that sits on top of a normal desk. It is heavy, so you should seek help when unpacking and manoeuvring your Varidesk into position. Height adjustment is manual rather than electric and involves two levers which release the unit’s position locks and the upper section can then be raised and lowered. This height adjustment does involve a small amount of manual effort compared to an electrically adjusted desk but the spring loaded lever mechanism effectively offsets the weight of any equipment placed on the desk.
The unit is extremely sturdy, solid and well made. You are not concerned for the safety of your heavy computer monitor or even leaning on the desk in the raised position. The Varidesk can be locked into position at a variety of heights which offered me plenty of options. At the lowest setting you can use the Varidesk for normal sitting. In this position the upper portion of the Varidesk elevates your monitor several centimeters above your desk which may also be a better position for posture.
In the sitting position your keyboard and mouse are placed on a panel which can be slid out from the lower portion of the Varidesk. I found this portion of the Varidesk provided limited space for mouse use due to cut-outs in the panel’s surface, however I was able to overcome this limitation with a mouse mat. If you are using a laptop then this lower sitting position will require you to use a separate keyboard and mouse as the elevated position of the laptop will prevent the use of the laptop’s keyboard and touchpad. On raising the Varidesk to the upper position I found I needed to slightly adjust the tilt of the screen to maintain the best alignment for viewing and also move the screen back to increase the distance between myself and the screen.
- Relatively cheap
- Can be used with your existing office furniture
- Easy and rapid to adjust the height
- In the sitting position the keyboard and mouse space is limited
- Limited depth of the desk in standing
My experience of the transition to working in standing
I have been surprised by how readily I have taken to working in a standing position with no tiredness, aches or pains experienced. I now chose to spend most of my working day standing with some periods of sitting for variety. I feel like I am more likely to adopt a good upper body posture when standing and I am also more likely to move regularly rather than remain motionless as I was inclined to do while sitting. I can’t tell how this is impacting on my overall health but I do know that I would definitely miss the standing option and now I seek opportunities to stand while working even when away from the office and my Varidesk.