Writers, ARISE! Sitting is the New Smoking!

Desk from Ikea parts (dog not included)
Desk from Ikea parts (dog not included)

I’m writing you standing up.  My husband Jeff constructed a new stand-up desk for me with $38.58 (including tax!) worth of Ikea parts.  This because—in case you haven’t heard—sitting is the new smoking. No kidding. The more you sit, the poorer your health and the earlier you die.  And if anyone has sat on her derriere forever, c’est moi. It’s an occupational hazard for writers, not to mention just about everyone else who works in an office and/or at a computer.

I read a couple of articles about “the new smoking” which alarmed me enough to spring into action—by sitting on my duff and researching stand-up desks online. If you Google “How to Build a Stand-up Desk” you will be overwhelmed with plans, a lot of which boil down to buying some Ikea parts. So simple, cheap and easy.

We have an old desk in our guest room that we moved to Minneapolis when we sold my parents’ house in South Carolina many years ago. We decided we could just build a stand on top of that. I didn’t want to give up the “smoking” desk in my study.  But the old desk top was a half inch too narrow to hold the Ikea side table on which I’d put my laptop. So we decided we had to buy a 22″ table top to go on top of the old desk. We could have been engineers!

Off we went to Ikea with a list I had compiled from an online “how to” article. Results: a Linnmon table top for $10.99; 2 Ekby Valter brackets for $8.00; a Lack side table for $9.99;  a Ekby Viktor Shelf for $5.99;  and a package of non-skid pads for the table legs for $.99. At the hardware store we picked up 4 sets of 3″ bolts, washers and screws to attach the brackets which would hold the keyboard shelf to the table, which would sit on top of the desk.

Lugged the stuff home. Jeff set to screwing the legs on the Lack table and bolting the brackets on two of the legs for the shelf. It all involved a certain amount of drilling and cussing. I lay on the guest room bed murmuring praise and reading my Kindle.

When “we” had the whole thing assembled—parents’ old desk as base, topped by Linnmon table top, topped by Lack table on which I put my laptop, with brackets bolted to two of the Lack table legs to hold the shelf for my ergonomic key board and mouse, we had a glorious sense of accomplishment. For about two minutes. The desk was too high for me. Ergonomically, my arms and hands should be about level with my waist for typing. Adding the Linnmon table top to the desk had made the whole shebang too high for me.

Solution: remove the new table top from the old desk, put it on the floor, and let me stand on it. Turn the Lack table to the side on the desk and sort of wedge the whole contraption next to the wall so it won’t topple off.

We’re geniuses.

Or hackers.

Then I bought a big ticket item: a 24″ Wellness mat for $101.99.  The idea being if I’m going to be standing at a desk so much, I need a cushion on which to stand.

I told Jeff I was thrilled with my new stand-up desk.  Except for the standing part.

Can I sit down now?

When can I sit down?
When can I sit down?

11 Replies to “Writers, ARISE! Sitting is the New Smoking!”

  1. Love it!! Do you alternate between your standing desk and your sitting desk? I think standing in one place for a long time would be difficult for me. Next step: set up a treadmill by your standing desk so you can type and move at the same time :)!

    1. I have only had the standing desk a few days, and I find my back gets just as tired standing as sitting. So I'm definitely alternating. And trying not to be at either for TOO long a stretch–I sometimes set a timer to remind myself to get up and MOVE! I have a treadmill in the basement and I've thought of trying to convert it. There are some ways online to adapt one into a desk, but I think my panel across the front would prevent that. Plus I'd have to learn how to turn it on . . .

  2. Love this post. I'm sitting as I write, on a terribly comfy chair, all softly padded in green leather, BUT, when I was at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center, a few years ago, the desk height wasn't right for me, so I stood at my buread–just the right height. Fabulous! Maybe I should bring my bureau here down to my study! Please give us a report next month. I've heard that if you do something 21 consecutive days, then you've GOT it for life.

    1. Oh that green leather chair sounds de-vine. But I find sitting for very long makes my back ache. If you don't have that problem, Jean, get down on your knees in thanks–plus getting up will be good exercise. Do this many times a day: Thank you, Gods that be, that my back doesn't ache from sitting . . .

  3. Wonderful, Paulette. I've been using a standing and a "smoking'" desk for a couple of years. I'd advise moving back and forth–I set my chime for 30 minutes. Standing desks have a slight risk, too — all that standing. May I also recommend the Ball Chair, which I adjusted to instantly and prefer to the Hermann Miller Aeron, if you can imagine. (Ball Chairs cost abt 10% of the price of the Aeron) What's nifty about the Ball Chair is that you build core strength by sitting in one, and I find that when I get up there is no sense of heaving to my feet, but rather and easy bounce.

    1. You've been using a standing desk for years? That's so great! And I totally agree about moving back and forth between the two desks. I can't imagine standing all the time. I read online about someone who changed to a standing desk and just exchanged one set of aches and pains for another. I like standing, and I have THREE balls–a baby ball, a mama ball, and a daddy ball. 3 sizes. But the chair part I don't have — will look into that. Thanks for the tips!!

  4. Yeah, I've read all those ominous warnings about the dangers of sitting and the advice to use stand-up desks, and I thought,"Here we go again. More advice which hasn't been really thought through." Have those people giving that advice never heard about the dangers to their veins of standing for long periods of time? Those of us who have varicose veins have been warned to never stand if we can sit–blood pools in the veins. –Walking, however, is fine, great actually, because it pumps the blood out of the legs and back to the heart. All of those people who advise stand up desks must also have good feet! There are millions of people like me for whom standing for more than a few minutes is painful! So much for my rant. I enjoyed the post. Good luck with your desk.

    1. Loretta, I'm so glad for your rant! GOOD POINTS! Standing is not for everyone, and we all know about "research." Walking is so great–we should all just get off our feet or duffs and walk a lot. Harder to do in MN winter (expecting 6-12 inches of wet, heavy stuff tonight–can you believe that, April 3rd! Outrageous. Now that's MY rant. . . ) I'm so sorry you have to deal with varicose veins (my brother-in-law is a vascular surgeon). I don't have them so don't know much about them–by problem is aching lower back. We all have something or actually, a lot of somethings usually. I enjoyed your rant! Thanks for the good wishes–we'll see. To be determined . . .

  5. Thanks, Paulette – ingenious! My L4-L5 as well as my L5-S1 desperately want me to get one, but as you can imagine some hoops to jump through to get one for work. This is a great solution for home, though! And if Jeff ever decides to leave the law, I think he could have a very lucrative business!

    1. Gary, so so sorry to hear about your L4 and L5, and the other thing S1 I don't know about. My Ls ache too, and I'm yet to see if standing will help. But if you can try this relatively cheap and easy solution, do so. As you see, it doesn't require "professionals"! I'll tell Jeff your suggestion . . . I don't know which profession would result in more drillin' and cussin' —

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