checking in on the idea of a standing desk

I casually noticed McKeay talking about a standing desk via Twitter recently, and I see he has a detailed blog post about his new standing desk (this is itself an interesting compare/contrast for Twitter vs Blogs…). While I’ve never entertained the idea myself (though, yes, I’ve seen treadmill/walking desks for WoW players), I have to admit I’m intrigued (clearly, since I’m even bothering with this post).

Let’s get a few things out of the way. A standing desk won’t necessarily burn more calories, but it certainly eliminates the “barrier” of having to stand up and be in awkward positions in relation to the computer in order to do something else. If you’re already standing, I can certainly see how much easier it is to just walk over and do something else or be just slightly more active. But I won’t begin to think this activity comes close to actual cardio activity; it’s just a gateway. More importantly, though, is the posture, blood flow, and core balance that can be improved by not sitting all day. I totally acknowledge and would expect that.

So let’s look at my computer use cases. At work, we do have the option of swapping our desk chair with an exercise ball; and I may be tempted to try this. But standing, at 6′, I can just barely see over our typical cubes, which would be strange over time. In short, most of our cubes just aren’t ready for standing. So let’s disregard my day job for now, though I’d probably get by with a standing desk at work just fine.

At home, I typically am doing one of 4 things on my systems: movies/netflix, socializing/web browsing, tinkering with new technologies and such (research?), and video gaming. I can’t say I’ve ever watched a movie standing up and I’m not sure I’d dig that, but I bet I could mount my monitors on arms that could swivel and be positioned to accommodate a leisure position in a nearby chair. My socializing/tinkinger activities are probably pretty posture-neutral for me; it would be weird at first of course, but I bet I could do them just fine standing or sitting. There are, of course, times where I’m probably thinking or mulling something over and want a change of position, but that can be dealt with by walking away and flopping onto a beanbag (Lovesac) or something. What would be less convenient would be reading-at-length or watching webinars/presos, most likely.

(Aside: I spend an inordinate amount of time at my computers, but I also don’t spend any time at all in front of a television. In fact, I don’t have one that brings in any television stations. I have a plasma, but only for movies I want to watch away from my computers or to play console games, which isn’t all that much. So, at least I’m not lounging on a couch or Lay-Z-Boy for hours of awful television. I’ve gone 6 years now without television use, and about twice that without actually ever *watching* it [prior roommates would watch, but I would usually not].)

And then we’re to video gaming, a relatively important hobby to me. I’m pretty sure my casual MMO/WoW playing would be compatible with standing, but I’d really expect I’d get sick of standing when it comes to FPS gaming or anything with a controller. With a controller held in both hands, that probably would eliminate my ability to support myself with my hands like I would with my forearms when typing or using a mouse. Who knows! Really, gaming is about being in a pretty uniform position with hands supported consistently and solidly to allow quick and precise movements. I’m pretty sure standing for that would be taxing.

So, I’m still unsure. One idea would be to augment my current desk with a nearby stand-up desk which could hold some of my extra boxes and servers and gear. But I’d be willing to bet I’d gravitate to one desk and ignore the other.

I could possibly rig something up where my main machines can be rolled to and hooked up to KVM setups between the desks as I see fit. But other than a real workshop-like area, I bet that’ll never look less than tacky and messy. And I’d probably still gravitate one way or another.

Still, this idea is interesting enough to keep in my thoughts for the present!