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The Benefits of Standing is Now Mainstream News

The health detriments of sitting all day, whether at work in front of a computer or at home on the couch, have been all over the news lately. And it’s not just a New Years resolution fad; people are awakening to the fact that moving around just a little bit makes a bigger difference than one might think. Here are some articles with a variety of perspectives on this…

Macleans: Why sitting is a dangerous health threat by Kate Lunau

As Levine meticulously monitored caloric input and output, it became clear that those who stayed thin were moving around more, but they weren’t devoting more time to formal exercise. Instead, they were unconsciously making little movements throughout the day, burning off the extra calories. They were also spending two hours less per day in a chair, compared with peers who gained weight. Years later, the fact that sedentariness is linked to obesity, independently of exercise, still surprises.

Globe & Mail: Why the sedentary life is killing us by Andre Picard

Do the math and you quickly realize that between sitting in our cars, sitting at our desks at work, sitting in front of the TV, sitting in front of our games consoles, sitting to eat, sitting in school, we hardly move any more. And there is good evidence that inactivity now kills more people than smoking each year.

HBR: Sitting Is the Smoking of Our Generation by Nilofer Merchant

And so, over the last couple of years, we saw the mainstreaming of the standing desk. Which, certainly, is a step forward. But even that, while it gets you off your duff, won’t help you get real exercise. So four years ago, I made a simple change when I switched one meeting from a coffee meeting to a walking-meeting. I liked it so much it became a regular addition to my calendar; I now average four such meetings, and 20 to 30 miles each week. Today it’s life-changing, but it happened almost by accident.

Salon: Is sitting worse than smoking? by Mary Elizabeth Williams

The Boston Globe recently noted the inevitable rise in “competitive non-sitting,” in a story that featured an anecdote about a woman shamed by her friends for wanting to take a table instead of standing healthfully at a packed bar. Great, something else for people to be smug about while they chug their kombucha.

HBR: To Stand or To Sit at Work: An Auto-Analytics Experiment by Susy Jackson

Then I read Babson researcher Jim Wilson’s article “You, By the Numbers,” and decided to really find out how much exercise it was. Wilson writes about the use of auto-analytics in the workplace with the hope that we use the tools to increase our self-awareness and become better at our jobs and more satisfied with our lives. With advice from Jim, my colleague researched headphones’ effect on his productivity, and I launched an experiment to see if sitting in a chair, sitting on a ball, or standing would help me be more active at work.

Chicago Tribune: Wellness programs for a healthier bottom line by Carolyn Bigda

But now, in addition to those benefits, employers may begin helping incorporate healthy habits into your everyday routine. You may, for example, see sit-to-stand workstations in the office, which give you a choice between sitting at your desk and standing. You won’t become physically fit by standing more during the day, but spending less time in your chair could improve your overall health.

BBC: Stand up at office to lose weight, says exercise scientist by Sean Coughlan

“Your metabolic rate crashes to an absolute minimum. It isn’t natural. Humans are designed to stand up and keep moving.”

Unboxing an ErgoDesktop MyMac Kangaroo Sit-Stand Desk

This spring I ordered a MyMac Kangaroo adjustable height sit-stand desk from ErgoDesktop. This model is designed for an Apple iMac, in particular the 21.5″ model which does not allow for a VESA mount directly onto a support column. The MyMac Kangaroo features two adjustable decks – the work surface and the computer platform – so that not only can you switch between sitting and standing you can also fine-tune for both a comfortable keyboard/mouse height and neck-saving straight-on screen height.

It arrived about a couple week after ordering it and it arrived via FedEx in a snugly packed 32″ x 26″ x 12″ box. This box was fairly heavy, owing largely to the metal base plate and support column. Photocopied instructions intuitively outlined the dozen or so steps it takes to assemble it (Mine was shipped unassembled to save cross-border shipping costs; I believe most Americans receive theirs already in one piece.)

Standing desks aren’t new but they’re also not common (yet), and many people wonder about how they’re made, shipped and assembled. So I thought I’d share with you some photos of my unboxing of this wonderful desk.

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Delivery
Delivery
Delivery box
Delivery box
Shipping box from above
Shipping box from above
Opened up
Opened up
Instructions and fasteners
Instructions and fasteners
Unboxing
Unboxing
Desk surface unpacked
Desk surface unpacked
Miscellaneous pieces
Miscellaneous pieces
Contents
Contents
Column with nitrogen gas spring
Column with nitrogen gas spring
Column - bottom view
Column - bottom view
Metal column
Metal column
Computer platform backing
Computer platform backing
Computer platform/shelf
Computer platform/shelf
Computer platform
Computer platform
Desk surface wrapped
Desk surface wrapped
Cherry finish desk surface
Cherry finish desk surface
Desk surface - side view
Desk surface - side view
Desk surface cross-bar
Desk surface cross-bar
Metal plate
Metal plate
Metal plate close-up
Metal plate close-up
ErgoDesktop logo
ErgoDesktop logo
Pads on plate bottom
Pads on plate bottom
Column end
Column end
Column from behind
Column from behind
Column on metal plate
Column on metal plate
Bolts to attach surface
Bolts to attach surface
Surface attachment
Surface attachment
Back view
Back view
Surface bracket
Surface bracket
Column
Column
Assembled - front view
Assembled - front view
Assembled and ready
Assembled and ready
Assembled desk - looking down
Assembled desk - looking down

My initial thoughts upon unboxing this desk really focused on the quality of both the materials and the engineering. The MyMac Kangaroo is clearly well designed and no shortcuts were made with the sturdy metal pieces and beautifully finished wood surfaces (I chose the cherry). And the gas nitrogen springs perform nicely in aiding the raising or lowering of the shelves.

So far the MyMac Kangaroo has been an excellent desk, well worth buying. It’s just one of several models designed and manufactured in Ohio at ErgoDesktop. A usage review is in the works, later.

Update: Seems like ErgoDesktop can’t keep up with the strong demand. Many online stores appear to be sold out and Amazon currently only has the Kangaroo Pro Junior. But hang tight, they’ll catch up – “2 to 3 weeks” according to the ErgoDesktop homepage.

Pedal Power: Bike Desks

For some merely standing at work isn’t breakthrough enough; they must be working out while at work to fully enjoy their desk. There’s of course the famous treadmill-desk combos but there are – of course! – also bike desks.

Recently Belgian company WeWatt introduced their WeBike, a hybrid bicycle desk that converts the energy of pedaling into electricity for one’s workstation devices. Each desk bicycle comes with a built-in WiFi hotspot and 110 Volt socket. Here’s a video of it…

The WeBike is partly made of recycled material and multiple units can be configured into group workspaces or meeting tables. A round table with three seats costs 9,950 euros, or about $12,725.

For something similar but a bit more affordable and portable, there’s also the FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk. It’s a simple, quiet, tension-adjustable fold-up cycle with a laptop perch. Perfect for shedding a few pounds while click-clacking away at the keyboard.

Continue Reading…

Famous Standers

Standing desks aren’t new of course. And there have been many now-famous figures in both distant and recent history who did their work from one. Names include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and others such as…

Winston Churchill at standing desk

Winston Churchill used a standing desk in his home study all his life. He lived into his 90s, even after smoking 10 cigars a day. Continue Reading…