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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 11, 2013

How-To: Standup and Mobile Workstations

By Mark Sisson
146 Comments

A few years back, my general manager and editor hurt his back deadlifting. He found the only way he could comfortably work at a desk was to stand. It worked really well for him, even offering benefits above and beyond the improvements in lower back pain – stuff like improved energy levels and increased focus and cognition. Once his back recovered, he continued to stand because of these benefits. It eventually spread to the rest of us at Mark’s Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint, prompting me to devote an entire post to standup workstations.

The first standup desk at our headquarters was cobbled together using a stack of shipping boxes laid flat, but, as the video shows, we’ve improved on it. And, as more of our workers have taken up the practice, we’ve realized that while standing in one place all day may be better than sitting in one place all day, it’s not ideal. Man was neither meant to stand nor sit in place. You stand long enough and you start resting on the desk, leaning forward or to either side and picking up some other bad habits. Some research even indicates that standing at a desk all day comes with certain risks of its own, including increased risk of varicose veins and carotid artery damage. Now, we think in terms of the mobile workstation, and emphasize changing things up throughout the day (i.e. sitting, standing, and walking).

In that vein, we’ve brought in treadmill desks. My favorite is the TreadDesk, a standalone treadmill that fits underneath most desks. It’s just the tread; no podium, no handles, no bulky set-up. Super simple. You walk while you work at the computer. Some folks do around 1.5 miles per hour, others can handle a little over 2 mph, but the most comfortable range seems to lie between 1.5 and 1.8 mph. Every worker gets a TreadDesk if they want one and if it makes sense for their job.

The real beauty of the treadmill desk is that you never feel that incessant need to workout tugging at the back of your mind. Since you’ve already done 5, 6, 7 miles at work, you don’t necessarily have to find time to trudge off to the gym. You can relax, unwind, and spend time with friends and family after work. It doesn’t replace exercise, but it certainly takes the edge off it.

If a TreadDesk doesn’t work or make sense for someone, I encourage frequent movement: walking, squatting, pushups, pullups (there’s even a bar in the office), a light jaunt outside in the Malibu sun. The key is to break up the stasis. Even just five minutes every two hours is plenty.

Since our shipping department processes hundreds of orders a day, we’ve made a simple but revolutionary change to the setup there: we bumped the tables up eight inches. This allowed the guys to do all their packing, taping, and shipping standing up straight, with open hips, rather than bending over hundreds of times a day to reach the materials. 45 degrees of hip flexion doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up (and eventually turns into dangerous lumbar flexion!) and wears the body down.

At home, which is where I do most of my work these days, I don’t find I really need the TreadDesk, since I’m the boss and I can take as many breaks as I need. Instead, I have a Locus Workstation from Focal. This is a great standup desk with a “human kickstand” to lean against when you get sick of standing, promoting excellent posture and proper ergonomic angles.

I reached out to Focal to see if I could score some kind of special deal for Mark’s Daily Apple readers. They provided me a coupon code that gets you a free anti-fatigue mat ($75 value) with purchase of a Locus Seat. Just add the mat to the cart and use the code “Upright!” during checkout. (They also informed me about their affiliate program, so full disclosure, the Focal link above is an affiliate link. If you happen to purchase something from them after clicking on the link, I’ll earn a small commission. Proceeds go towards maintaining Mark’s Daily Apple.)

The mobile workstation is a no-brainer for me – and for anyone, really. Not only does it promote better health in my employees, it makes work more enjoyable and workers more productive. And though the gadgets and the treadmills and the fancy desks might make staying mobile easier, they certainly aren’t required. Anyone can get up and go for a short walk, right?

Standup and Mobile Workstation Tips

1. Start with short bouts of standup time – use boxes to elevate computer
2. Take 5-minute walking/exercise breaks every two hours
3. Practice good posture – elongated spine and proper ergonomic angles

Do you have a standup workstation? How have you found it? Do you stand all day, or mix things up? Let everyone know in the comment board!

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146 Comments on "How-To: Standup and Mobile Workstations"

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Cody
Cody
3 years 14 days ago

“The real beauty of the treadmill desk is that you never feel that incessant need to workout tugging at the back of your mind.”

Right there is the reason to get the equipment!!!!

Lindsay
Lindsay
3 years 14 days ago

Anyone know if you can buy the TreadDesk in Canada?

Cathy
Cathy
2 years 9 months ago

I am not sure about the TreadDesk, but I bought this sit/stand desk a couple weeks ago and LOVE IT! I like that it goes on top of an existing desk – makes it more portable if I need to move it.

http://www.fitter1.com/Catalog/Items/VD.aspx

Only $350 too for the dual monitor version!

trackback

[…] A few years back, my general manager and editor hurt his back deadlifting. He found the <a class="colorbox" title="You Might …read more […]

Stevemid
Stevemid
3 years 14 days ago

OK… 4 minutes into the video I started worrying what was in those frittatas my wife made me this morning

Nack
Nack
3 years 14 days ago

Sort of felt like the weekend was making a comeback, eh?

Colleen
Colleen
3 years 14 days ago

That Lotus workstation is beautiful but pricey. I am going to start with a stand up desk at the $200 price point.

Joel
Joel
3 years 14 days ago

Good luck trying to find a desk at $200. Stand-ups are still in the niche market and highly overpriced.

Let me know if you do! Because i’m currently hurting (desk jockying) at work.

Lynn Clark
3 years 14 days ago
I changed to a standing desk about a year ago and will never go back. I found a nice, moderately inexpensive modular desk set at IKEA that allows for an elevated surface height and has sectionals that you can put on different height risers for mice, monitors, keyboards, etc. It allows for fast and easy removal of any unnecessary platforms if I want to spend a few minutes sitting on my kneeling chair and working. Then I just put them back onto the desktop to return to my standing position. This way my keyboard can be at the optimum height… Read more »
Colleen
Colleen
3 years 14 days ago

I should say it was pretty basic as I intend to use for 1-3 hours per day or so as a break from the computer and regular desk. If I order in the next day or 2, I will post link.

jon
jon
3 years 14 days ago

I can’t afford one either.

So I make do with my “Asian Squat” Workstation:

I squat in front of my computer that is set atop a stool!

No chair either…

LOL!

Kyle
Kyle
3 years 13 days ago

I built my own standing desk workstation about three months ago for under 30 bucks and it’s been working great! You can customize it to any height you need as long as you take your measurements right.

I agree that Locus Workstation look incredible, but I don’t think I could ever spend that much on a desk. Maybe one day I’ll work at a company like Mark’s… fingers crossed 🙂

My standing workstation:

tkm
tkm
3 years 12 days ago

beautiful job! Simple and elegant.

Clint Friday
Clint Friday
3 years 12 days ago

Try Varidesk. $300.00. Sits on top of your desk and rises to desired height. I have had mine for a week and totally dig it.

Rich
Rich
3 years 8 days ago

I just purchased a “Varidesk” from Amazon. I think it was the “pro” model. $300! I love it! Easy to set up and adjust. Very simple, and there’s even room for a legal pad as well as a keyboard on the keyboard platform.

Pete
3 years 14 days ago

I had a similar experience incorporating standing. I built a makeshift desk riser out of 3 pieces of wood but also noticed I tended to just end up slouching in different ways. It’s hard to get into the habit of taking that break and moving every so often. Drinking a lot of tea during the day helps, if you know what I mean…

Paleo-curious
3 years 14 days ago
I wish I could rig up a treadmill desk, but that’s not in the picture at the moment. I do love standing while I draw or paint, though, & have just convinced one of my sons to try standing up while doing schoolwork on the computer! If my feet start to get tired, I find it helps a lot to stand on alternate legs for a while. I like to do it yoga tree pose style as it further opens the hips, but you could also just rest one foot on something. I’m a natural wiggle worm, so I’m constantly… Read more »
kate
3 years 14 days ago

I use a makeshift stand up work station- my laptop on a wooden step stool on top of my kitchen counter top. Sounds crazy, looks a little crazy, but I don’t look like that crazy woman all hunched over after a day hunched over at my desk anymore!

Alison Golden
3 years 14 days ago

Very cool! Loved seeing how everything works for and acknowledgment that there are different types of desk work that require different types of set-ups from person to person (Siena’s cave).

Plus it was good to see the people that work for you, Mark! 🙂

Marcy
Marcy
3 years 14 days ago
I used this guy’s website for a DIY tutorial on how to make my own treaddesk. (http://www.treadmilldeskdiary.com/) and made my own treaddesk using a Ikea Jerker desk (from Craigslist $25) and a dismantled cheaper treadmill ($250). I had to figure out how to switch between the sitting desk and standing desk quickly ( I only walk for 4 hours a day) ….made tread desk with bluetooth peripherals and casters to move away in 1 minute to convert to sitting desk…cannibalized a treadmill to just it’s treads and controls. Still trying to find an ergonomic wireless mouse and keyboard., but this… Read more »
Heather
Heather
3 years 14 days ago
I asked about a standing desk and was told that I had to have some kind of medical problem to get one. ??!! Pathetic! So I now have my monitor on a box. My mouse on a huge stack of binders. And my keyboard on a lap tray for a computer. I love it. I’ve always been fidgety and standing lets me do it. Fidgeting while sitting would have my legs twisted up in wierd position because I can’t sit like a “normal” person with both feet on the floor. I’m also too small/short to be able to fix the… Read more »
Mrs. Strom
Mrs. Strom
3 years 14 days ago

“Back pain”

It’ll cost you an $80 visit to your MD for a note. (If you’re an American that is.)

Sue
Sue
3 years 13 days ago

Exactly – that’s what I did. Everyone who comes to see me now says, “oh, you must have a bad back.” Well, I would if I sat all day for the next 2 decades of my career, in addition to a myriad of other problems!

trackback

[…] Daily Apple / Posted on: September 11, 2013Mark’s Daily Apple – A few years back, my general manager and editor hurt his back deadlifting. He found the […]

Fit_guy
Fit_guy
3 years 14 days ago

For office use, the “commercial grade” equivalents of these are made by a company called Steelcase.

Their “Airtouch” height adjustable desk rocks — http://tinyurl.com/25uvwsw

Their treadmill desk is also height adjustable — http://tinyurl.com/6qbj3qv

Karla
3 years 14 days ago
I work in a cubicle and thought I’d never figure out how to get a standing workstation that didn’t look trashy. Then I saw the plans here: http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dollars.html and I made a very nice setup. I have 2 monitors, so I used 2 Lack desks, 2 shelves, and four brackets. I’ve since made the legs a bit shorter and inserted 1.25″ square dowels into the legs (the legs on the Lack tables are hollow), and added adjustable shelf brackets so that it would still work ergonomically if I need to sit down. I have a drafting chair for when I… Read more »
Rob
Rob
3 years 13 days ago

This is exactly what I did for home and it’s been working great.

Ro
Ro
3 years 14 days ago

Loved the video, especially the leaning stool! Where is it available?

This is a great video on posture by this doctor Eric Goodman at Ted:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBlM5in2IQA
A really great stretch for those breaks!

Tiffany
Tiffany
3 years 14 days ago

Treadmill desks are a “liability” and not allowed at the company where I work. So I asked for and received a tall “stand up” desk then bought a $100 mini-elliptical machine (from Amazon, search for In Motion Elliptical Trainer) that I use for hours. And hours. The only drawback is that it is difficult to keep my heart rate at 55% of my max and type…

Josh
Josh
3 years 13 days ago

That is a genius idea! 1/10th the cost of the tread desks 🙂

Karen
Karen
3 years 14 days ago

Any thoughts on how to get the head honchos around here to support this idea? So many people would benefit from this but to purchase one on my own is way out of my price range (and I’m not sure if that particular one ships to Canada, although I’m sure there are others!). I feel like so many people could benefit from it but my workplace isn’t great with the whole work/life balance thing.

Casey
Casey
3 years 14 days ago

If you want to get a good in-office solution without buying a whole new desk, there’s a new company in DFW that is making a great option: http://www.varidesk.com/how-it-works

Kris
Kris
3 years 13 days ago

I purchased one of these for my desk about a month ago and I love it. For $275 plus shipping it was much cheaper than buying a new desk. It adjusts easily and allows me to shift from sitting to standing as needed. It’s big enough to hold both my monitors and is steady enough I do not fear them flying off!

Jarrod
3 years 14 days ago

Great post! I have been standing at my desk for about a year now. I have a laptop and I sit it on an iCraze lap “desk” which I configured to stand on my regular desk. I purchased it, along with an attachment for my wireless mouse (called Mouzpad, I think), for about $50 total on Amazon. Maybe I’ll graduate to the Treaddesk one of these days, but I sometimes still want to sit and sometimes need to write too.

Tom T.
3 years 14 days ago

My company just got 2 new treadmill workstations. You can sign up to use them for an hour at a time. They have been booked every time I walk by them.

PaleoChille
PaleoChille
3 years 14 days ago
We have used our ‘mobile desk’ for about a month now. When considering a standing workspace, I knew immediately that standing would be challenging, but walking would be the ideal situation-as Mark describes above. After much research and finding either unstable-rigged setups, or super expensive pre-maide desks, I am thrilled with what we finally ended up with. Since my husband and I are sharing the space, the desk needed to be easily adjustable. I found a table base called a Multi Table at amazon.The Multi Table has a hand crank to raise and lower the desk. They also have an… Read more »
PaleoChille
PaleoChille
3 years 14 days ago
I neglected to mention that this desk works great for walking on one side of the desk and a sitting area beside the treadmill. Simply crank the desk down to a comfortable level and have a seat! One would have to have the leg in front of them, but it sets back so it doesn’t come into contact with the seated person. The leg support on the floor is low profile so your office chair would have no problem getting right next to the desk (imagine an ‘L” that has the short leg toward you, or google the desk for… Read more »
Seth
Seth
3 years 14 days ago

I had a sit-stand that would adjust height between sitting and standing levels. I liked it a lot. One thing I noticed is that I could really tell when my sleeping and eating habits were off or when I was feeling really stressed. During those times I noticed that my sitting time increased dramatically and I could stop and reflect how I needed to adjust to get back in the game.

I recently switched jobs and am back to square-one with the traditional desk. I need to find a new (cheaper) standing solution.

Tara F
Tara F
3 years 14 days ago

I paused the video about 4 minutes in, went into the warehouse, got an old recycling bin and a piece of shelf and voila, I have a standing desk. Thanks Mark!

Beth
Beth
3 years 14 days ago

Thanks for the show & tell of mobile / standing desks at your office and at home. Very interesting stuff.
I’m not sure I would be able to do the tread-desk, but a standing desk is an interesting idea.

Matt
3 years 14 days ago

I couldn’t imagine workkng a desk job. Sometimes I’m glad to be able to use the computer sitting.

Skyler J. Collins
3 years 14 days ago

What about “standing” on your knees? I work in a cubicle, and I don’t think the suits will let me modify my desk, but I could reach everything just fine at this level if I were on my knees. Anything research on that?

Zach
Zach
3 years 14 days ago

This is a great product I use for laptops that can just be placed on top your current desk. It’s also great if you want to use your laptop in the bed. Eliminated a lot of serious neck pain I had from reading.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LNVMIS/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Megan
Megan
3 years 14 days ago
I have been using a makeshift standing desk for just over 4 months now. And I love it! Because I had to just makeshift what I could out of the reception desk, I had to jump in and am not able to break up the standing with sitting very often. And I always love the tips/reminders on things I can do to keep it healthy on your site! I am always looking for tips on more subtle things I can do frequently to break up the standing. I am at the front desk like I said, and things around here… Read more »
Megan
Megan
3 years 14 days ago

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4607742594164&l=b6958ee4a3 You can see how I set up my desk initially – I have made a couple adjustments since – making the keyboard higher.

Joe
Joe
3 years 14 days ago

Workin’ with babes!

Me watching this right now:

http://tinypic.com/r/6ejk9g/5

trackback

[…] How-To: Standup and Mobile Workstations […]

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 14 days ago

For anyone looking for a super cheap standing desk option: http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dollars.html

bamboo
bamboo
3 years 14 days ago
I work from home and use a kneeling chair. I converted to that after realizing I was slouched down for 8 hours a day with the keyboard at chest level. Slugdom was in my future. I’ve used a kneeling chair for about 8 years, now. You can’t ‘sit’ in the kneeling chair for more than an hour without discomfort. So you are forced to get up and move around. I also put on a pedometer every morning and make every attempt to log 10,000 steps (5 miles). After seeing this video, I think I may convert to a standing/treadmill desk.… Read more »
Naz
3 years 14 days ago

The whole time I was watching the video I was thinking I want to work for Mark! 🙂

Justin McCullough
Justin McCullough
3 years 14 days ago

Cool video. I like the new use of the format. Do you know where that pull up station is from? I’ve been trying to find a cheap flexible format to use at my apartment, but everything is huge and expensive.

barb
barb
3 years 14 days ago

Love the leaning lotus chair – hope someone posts a DIY version to Instructables soon for those of us who can swing the $690 for it.

beachbound
beachbound
3 years 14 days ago

Here’s something I found that looks fairly easy:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Wobble-Seat-1/

I might tackle this project sometime this week!

barb
barb
3 years 13 days ago

thanks!

Justin McCullough
Justin McCullough
3 years 14 days ago

Search “human kickstand” if found a bit of images. Maybe an instructable is already in the works.

Justin McCullough
Justin McCullough
3 years 14 days ago
Scott O
Scott O
3 years 14 days ago
A few months ago I purchased an Ergotron WorkFit-S Combo LCD and Laptop Sit-Stand Workstation (http://www.provantage.com/ergotron-33-340-200~4ERGT0KU.htm) that clamps to my desk and supports my keyboard and Mac Thunderbolt monitor, plus a worksurface. A fraction of the cost of most other stand-up solutions. I quickly switch between standing, sitting, and perching (with a straight back) on a draftsman stool with circular footrest that cost under $100. The pain I used to feel in my hips toward the end of the day is gone. As a 61-year-old software engineer, I was getting worried about being unable to do my job. This has… Read more »
Bev
Bev
3 years 14 days ago

I made a DIY standing desk and it gave me terrible tendonitis in my mouse arm after about 6 weeks of use. I have to refigure some things–it’s difficult to figure out the best ergonomic placement and where everything should be. But the first fews weeks before the pain set in I felt invincible and wonderful!

There are a million DIY standing desks instructions out there, but this is one of the best I’ve seen–both for money and aesthetics:

http://kotaku.com/how-to-build-a-healthier-pc-gaming-table-for-under-200-510211038

Carlos
Carlos
3 years 14 days ago

Excellent information. I’ve heard exercise balls are a good replacements for chairs. Mark, do you have more information on this topic?

Thanks,

Mountaingirl
3 years 14 days ago

What a great employer you are!

Mark Stewart
3 years 14 days ago

Hi Mark,

Great video on your office and the benefits and use of stand up desks. I’ve been using a stand up desk for a few months and as its my home office keeping it on the cheap side.

Check out this Youtube link for a $28 stand up desk set up from Ikea that goes on top of an existing desk.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykGspcKFlTg

Best,
Mark

Kevin
Kevin
3 years 14 days ago

Can this be written off in taxes as business expense?

lockard
lockard
3 years 14 days ago

i have a stand-up computer station and a sit down desk for paperwork – wish i had that chair leaning post thing mark has thats awesome

Heather
Heather
3 years 14 days ago

http://iamnotaprogrammer.com/Ikea-Standing-desk-for-22-dollars.html

I used the link above as a guide to make a modification to my current workdesk to make a standing desk. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE!!

I have been using it for about 2 months now and am beyond happy with the decision. I also have a table in my office I can use on the rare day I don’t have meetings. Otherwise I use my meetings as my sitting times and my desk is standing.

Peter
Peter
3 years 14 days ago

Well Mark if you work mostly from home and can take as many breaks as you want because your are the boss, then I imagine the bees are taking as many as they want as well since you aren’t there to watch them 🙂 Go bees!

I enjoyed the peek at “Primal HQ”.

Sammie
Sammie
3 years 14 days ago

Desk dancing! Crafted a standup using a small coffee table in the corner of my L-shaped monstrosity. Bonus storage space under the table. No treadmill – just good tunes and happy feet! And, fortunately for all, a private office.

Paleo-curious
3 years 14 days ago

Ha! I do that too! Have to be careful what music I listen to or I get too wrapped up in the dancing. 😀

greenelixer
3 years 14 days ago

Awesome information Mark, thanks (again).

Love to see you guys incorporate grounding/earthing pads.

Donnie Law
3 years 14 days ago

Love these videos. I think this was the first full 7 minutes I’ve spend on your site. keep the videos coming!

Ann
Ann
3 years 14 days ago

Stand-up desks sound intriguing, but check out this chair for those that want an alternative to that. It allows you to move around while you are sitting. It is fantastic.
http://www.rockerstool.com/

Jonas Johnson
Jonas Johnson
3 years 14 days ago

I love the idea of the Treadmill Desk. I already had a treadmill in the basement that was collecting dust so I could not personally justify buying another treadmill just to make a desk. So I used the treadmill and designed my own desk from parts I bought at Ikea. I finished it last Thursday and I love it. Here is a link to a picture I posted on Pinterest. The total cost of the parts I bought at Ikea was around $200.

http://pinterest.com/pin/454371049876224942/

tracy
tracy
3 years 14 days ago
i have a height adjustable desk (my department bought me one when i broke my tailbone and could not sit). push of a button i am standing. then back down when i need to….but never into an office “task” chairs. i use a balance ball for sitting. i have found that i have improved posture, i feel better, AND, i SWEAR by this, my productivity increased (less time reading paleo and crossfit blogs!). my office has since committed to buying height adjustable desks for anybody interested. the investment in employee health is one of the reasons i work here!
maurizio
maurizio
3 years 14 days ago

Where can I find the pull-up bar ?

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