Thanks to our increasingly computer-centered lives, Americans now spend more time sitting than sleeping each day. Researchers have found that sitting for long periods is correlated with higher rates of obesity and shorter life spans. The good news is that stand-up desks can help alleviate the long-term effects of a sedentary lifestyle; the bad news is they can be expensive. For example, GeekDesk sells motorized, adjustable desks for $900, and prices tend to rise from there. Cheapism.com rounded up some inexpensive products and DIY projects to get you out of your office chair.
Before purchasing a new desk or building one yourself, research the options. If you work in an office, ask your manager if standing desks are acceptable, and consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your daily routine, especially if you have lower body or back problems. And make sure you have a good sense of the best ergonomic positions for work. Ergotron suggests optimal monitor and keyboard heights and TreeHugger provides advice on making the transition from sitting to standing on a daily basis.
The cheapest way to create a standing desk is to use furniture you already have. For a home office, consider attaching a shelf to an empty wall at elbow level. If you have a tall bookshelf, Offbeat Home & Life suggests taking out some of the higher shelves to create a new workspace. Any surface as high as your elbow will suffice -- a bar table, a stack of books that's easily moved, or a sturdy box that can be placed on a desk and stashed underneath when not in use. Make sure the keyboard is at elbow level and the monitor is at eye level for best posture.
If you're a fan of Ikea hacks, this project is for you. Order a side table, a shelf, and two brackets from Ikea and mount the shelf to the legs of the side table. Place the rig atop a desk with your keyboard on the shelf and your monitor(s) at eye level on the side table. Ikea Hackers offers a DIY alternative for about $30, which includes an inexpensive bar stool to account for leg fatigue.
A "laptop elevator" can be used as a lap desk or on a tabletop. The iCraze adjustable, vented laptop table ($36 on Amazon) has a locking button for adjusting the angle of the shelf and a grooved surface to hold the laptop in place. When you're finished with work, the stand collapses for storage. Hundreds of reviewers roundly praise this contraption, which elevates a laptop to eye level whether the user is standing or sitting.
If you need space for a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor, consider a WorkEZ standing desk ($120 on Amazon). This stand holds your monitor at eye level (supporting up to 13 pounds). An accompanying tray and mouse pad let you set the keyboard at elbow level, with the mouse to the right or left side.
For those who work with more than one monitor, the Lift Standing Desk Conversion Kit ($150 on Amazon) supports up to 30 pounds. There are separate shelves for the monitors and keyboard, as well as a mouse pad that can be moved to either side of the keyboard. The monitor stand also has a shelf underneath for storage.
This product began as a Kickstarter project by two engineers who wanted a light, foldable standing desk. ReadyDesk is made entirely of recyclable Baltic birch wood parts that slide and lock into place -- no tools required. Two adjustable shelves provide 30 ergonomic positions to choose from, and the higher shelf supports multiple monitors. It weighs less than 16 pounds for easy transport. At $169, it costs bit more than the previous recommendations, but it's a good choice if you're looking for an attractive and environmentally friendly stand-up desk.
Anyone who works on a laptop and changes workspaces often should consider the StandStand. The wooden stand elevates anything at table level to elbow level; it comes in three sizes for people of different heights. The stand weighs less than 2 pounds, but the sturdy plywood can hold up to 900 pounds. The unique notches and slots allow quick assembly and disassembly, and locking flat panels fit into a book bag, briefcase, or laptop case. At $69, this is a budget-friendly standing desk alternative.
If you have room for a new piece of furniture, take a look at the Techni Mobili Cadmus stand ($62 on Amazon). This svelte, mobile laptop stand includes several shelves for storage and the height can be adjusted between 28 and 45 inches. Reviewers admire the quality and the small footprint, awarding the stand an average of 4.4 stars.
This mobile, ergonomic workstation from the Stand Up Desk Store appeals to consumers who want a stand-alone desk, as opposed to a tabletop contraption. At $179 on Amazon, it's half the price of similar desks. The workstation gets favorable reviews for quality, ease of assembly, price, and spaciousness, with room for a laptop and monitor. The two shelves adjust at 1-inch increments; locking brakes and wheels provide mobility as needed.
A mat can help stave off the fatigue that sets in when you're standing all day. The Genuine Joe anti-fatigue mat ($18 on Amazon) is a bargain when stacked against similar mats. The product has earned an average of 4 stars from nearly 500 reviewers; many praise the low price and comfort. The vinyl mat is 3/8 inch thick and sports a ribbed surface to prevent slipping.