Ladies, Rise Up! Loving My Sit-Stand Desk

Many of us midlife moms spend too much time on our butts. Sitting at the computer, driving kids, watching the game – we’re far too sedentary.

Studies find people who sit a lot at greater risk for heart disease, various cancers, obesity and other problems. They also have a higher death risk – even if they exercise often. And if you have hip or leg issues like me, prolonged sitting is terrible.

To address those problems, I recently bought a sit-stand desk. Talk about a great lifestyle change! Few purchases have been more beneficial.

Getting Off My Butt

I considered buying a standing desk for years. However, standing for long periods wasn’t appealing either. (Ask your hairdresser about her feet.) Some people log miles on treadmill desks. I couldn’t imagine walking, typing and sipping coffee.

Then a hip injury forced me off my butt.

First I tried a homemade setup, and this may work for you. My daughter had a lap desk 13 inches tall. Placed on my regular desk, it was the perfect height to support my laptop and allow me to work standing.

Normally, though, I work sitting at a computer table with my laptop plugged into an ergonomic keyboard and a 30-inch display. Standing to work on the laptop meant unplugging the keyboard and monitor and resizing windows, a tedious process. And working on the laptop keyboard hurt my arms. (Using the Kinesis Advantage Keyboard eliminated my tendonitis years ago.)

The experiment did make clear, though, that an ideal setup would encourage switching from sitting to standing often. We’re so used to working in one position. What we really need is to keep moving.

That meant looking for a desk that would go up and down easily and support my laptop, monitor and keyboard, allowing me to change position without rejiggering devices.

Shopping for an Adjustable-Height Desk

Sit-stand desks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. At 39 by 31 inches, the desk I bought supports all my equipment but is small enough to fit in the corner between my two regular desks. Electric, it goes from sitting to standing or stops at any height in between with the push of a button.

Presto! I just changed position again while writing this. Interested?

Here are tips for buying a sit-stand desk:

Buy One that Rises Easily: You’re not going to stand if it takes two people to adjust the desk or involves laborious cranking. Consider an electric desk that rises with the push of a button.

• Research on YouTube: Videos show how these desks are constructed and how easily they adjust. YouTube is also a good source for information on building your own desk.

• Beware Return Charges: Some companies sock it to you on returns. Check the fine print and look for a reasonable policy.

• Check Durability: You don’t want to put expensive computer equipment on something that’s going to collapse. My desk is called “light duty” but it’s incredibly solid with a lifting capacity of 154 pounds.

• Consider the Vendor: Some sellers seem to be targeting large corporate buyers; their websites were Greek to me. In other cases, it wasn’t clear how the desk worked. Keep looking. There are better sources out there.

Getting Set Up

I bought my desk from Ergo Depot and was really happy. The desk cost $677 with the pricier veneer and shipped for free, making it less expensive than many other electric desks. The company has a good return policy, clear website and helpful customer service. It was one of the few vendors that offered a small electric desk.

But beware of assembling this piece of furniture yourself. Some guy on the Internet said he assembled my model in 45 minutes. Ha! It took me the whole day, partly because the base is heavy. I also got stuck in one part of the instructions.

My husband isn’t handy, and I have a stubborn do-it-yourself streak. I assembled my daughter’s entire loft bed by myself. (Five boxes. One near nervous breakdown. Such pride on completion!) However, this may be my last such project. For get this – I put the wooden top of the desk on upside down! No wonder it was so hard to screw in.

“You always mess up something. But it works out,” said the man who stepped over Ikea bookshelf parts on our first date. Gee, thanks honey!

Ah, well. The desk still works beautifully, is solid as a rock and has allowed me to write despite hip problems. Standing has been far more enjoyable than expected. And switching between sitting and standing is energizing.

Next Up: A Funky Chair

Stay tuned. Soon I’ll have even more positions to work in. The HAG Capisco chair I ordered from Ergo Depot is strange looking but amazingly versatile. With straight arms and a saddle seat, it allows you to sit, stand, perch semi-standing or turn the whole thing around and sit leaning forward. I’ll let you know whether it’s a boon or a bust.

Do you use a standing or adjustable-height desk? Any brands or home setups you’d recommend? Please comment below!

***

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P.S. The orchid by the desk is from my mother-in-law. Thanks Elaine!

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  • rave tutu

    September 15, 2016 at 4:07 am
    Reply

    Hey I am so thrilled I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was browsing on Digg for something else, Anyways […] Read MoreHey I am so thrilled I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was browsing on Digg for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a marvelous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the great job. Read Less

  • Heather

    November 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm
    Reply

    Great post, Jennifer. Have you heard of the JustStand Wellness Uprising (www.juststand.org)? It's a place where people come together to share tips on how to […] Read MoreGreat post, Jennifer. Have you heard of the JustStand Wellness Uprising (www.juststand.org)? It's a place where people come together to share tips on how to stand more, get more research, and join others who are concerned about the dangers of sitting disease. We know that sitting disease causes cardiovascular disease, at an alarming rate, and now we know that sitting disease is a major contributor to cancer (released last week from the American Institute for Cancer Research). It's my hope that more people get the message, and the new research will aide in that awareness. Time to JustStand!!! Read Less

    • JenniferHull
      to Heather

      November 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm
      Reply

      Thanks for jumping in, Heather. I just looked up the American Institute for Cancer Research info you cite on the perils of sitting. Wow. It's […] Read MoreThanks for jumping in, Heather. I just looked up the American Institute for Cancer Research info you cite on the perils of sitting. Wow. It's an eye-opener. For those interested in learning more, read this National Journal article. Of course all this has implications for kids too, who sit far too long in school. Don't even get me started on the absurdity of abolishing recess. . . Read Less

  • InSeason Mom Cynthia

    November 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm
    Reply

    I was sitting down reading your post and feeling quite confident until I read the part “a higher death risk – even if they exercise […] Read MoreI was sitting down reading your post and feeling quite confident until I read the part “a higher death risk – even if they exercise often.” There goes my bragging about exercising twice a week by jumping rope. Thanks for motivating me to get off my butt! Read Less

    • JenniferHull
      to InSeason Mom Cynthia

      November 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm
      Reply

      That makes two of us, Cynthia. I was shocked to learn that frequent exercise doesn't make up for the damage done by prolonged sitting. But […] Read MoreThat makes two of us, Cynthia. I was shocked to learn that frequent exercise doesn't make up for the damage done by prolonged sitting. But hey, you should keep bragging. Jumping rope twice a week is great stuff! Read Less

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About Jennifer

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

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In Beyond One, Jennifer chronicles her leap from one child to two, describing the enormous impact the second child has on a woman’s body, marriage, family life, friendships and work.

"Hull is the kind of woman many moms long to be friends with. . ." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Credits

The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, CNN.com, MS., Parenting, Real Simple, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Working Mother, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, American Way, Brain, Child, The Christian Science Monitor, and more.