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See How Easy It Is To Set Your Desk Up So You Can Stand Comfortably While Working.

Updated on November 11, 2015

The far-reaching effects of exercise

My grandmother who spoke good German, some times dispensed her advice in that language. One of these old-times sayings started with ’Nach dem Essen’, i.e. ‘after a meal’ and went on to say ‘one should stand or take a thousand steps’.

I was reminded of this on reading an article by James Levine in the Scientific American on ‘Killer chairs’. Maybe it is not the greatest news. We all have heard about the dangers of sedentary lifestyle and the benefits of exercise. I find it almost annoying that no matter what medical condition one reads about, one of the main recommendations is to increase exercise. Is it indeed such a panacea, or just a fad?

Well there is some reason to believe that exercise does indeed have far reaching consequences on health, both physical and mental. It is easy to argue that we evolved to be on our feet all day, foraging for goodies or tending animals. The field is very actively researched. Looking for scientific papers at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, with the search term ‘exercise and metabolism’ bring almost 80,000 results and ‘exercise and memory’ almost 3,000. In this last category, the first paper, when I last looked, was titled ‘Long-term mild-intensity exercise regimen preserves pre-frontal cortical volume against aging’. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

What if you work at your desk all day?

The Scientific American article doesn’t just sing the praises of exercise, it also looks into possible solutions to increase exercise time. Some, like corporations instituting walking meetings, and especially, rezoning of cities, will take a lot of thought and a long time to realize. The author’s invention of a ‘treadmill desk’ seems a simpler solution that requires rather limited investment and could work in a shorter term. It consists of a high desk and a treadmill underneath. Apparently, an even simpler solution, with just a high desk to stand by and fidget at, has been tested in an Idaho school, with promising results. Peter the Great of Russia spent most of his days standing at a high desk.


My simple solution was to build a platform from books; not very elegant, but works quite well. I use a laptop, but a computer screen could also be easily elevated on a platform from large books.

Most desks are large enough, so that when one gets tired, the laptop can be lifted off, the books pushed back, and the laptop or screen placed in front of the books directly on the desk. Now you are ready to sit down and work for a while sitting. It is also relatively easy to add or take books away, thereby changing the height of the platform.

These days, there are many computer stands available. Some can be placed on a desk to elevate one’s laptop, others are placed on the floor. The latter can come with or without additional shelves.

Try the link

The site shows a number of standing desk types of varying design and complexity, with varied price tags. Some come with a treadmill. It even shows a few less sophisticated, homemade, designs - these are labeled ‘Frankendesks’.


Well, whatever its name, my book-platform does not cost anything, and is easy to build. One can use it for a while to find out whether one likes ‘vertical working’ enough to invest in a standing desk.

Give it a try!

See more:

James Levine 2014 November Killer chairs Scientific American 311 34-35

National Center for Biotechnology Information

Long-term mild-intensity exercise regimen preserves prefrontal cortical volume against aging. Tamura M, Nemoto K, Kawaguchi A, Kato M, Arai T, Kakuma T, Mizukami K, Matsuda H, Soya H, Asada T. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Oct 29. doi: 10.1002/gps.4205. [Epub ahead of print]


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    • Eva Hard profile image

      PE Hardwicke 22 months ago from Midwest USA

      An excellent point John. I should have thought of this. My thoughts were concentrated on the dangers of sitting all day.

      But walking – or even standing – after a meal could prevent acid reflux. In fact, someone told me that his doctor said that people just do not appreciate enough what an important role gravity plays in passing food through the digestive tract.

      If I have a minute, I will update this post to mention about this.

    • profile image

      JonBoz 22 months ago

      Interesting what your grandmother said about standing after having a meal. I believe there is an epidemic of gastric reflux disease such that most of the people I know consume Nexium or Prilosec daily. Although stress and overeating do contribute to this problem, I've found that taking a good walk after a meal really helps keep the problem at bay.

      Just today I saw an advertisement for a popup standing desk that must cost quite a penny--unlike your solution. I instinctively knew that I would one day use all my old school books, so thanks for the suggestion.