How a standing desk can save your life

In yet another “seized by the whim” moment, I have started to embrace the standing desk at home. Yes, standing instead of sitting at the desk.

Sounds like a great way to torture oneself? Not really. Studies have shown that sitting for a prolonged period of time not only affects your posture, it can also increase the risk of obesity and mortality – regardless of how much you exercise. Just see this mind-blowing infographic by the Medical Billing and Coding organisation (also embedded at the end of the post). You can also read related research articles here and here.

Standing desks are not a new phenomenon; they were popular in the homes and offices of the rich during the 18th and 19th centuries, and luminaries like Thomas Jefferson and Ernest Hemingway swore by them. A few decades on, standing desks are back in vogue again, as people spend increasingly more time at their computers.

Standing desks are especially prevalent in the US where there are many who work from home or at less formal offices, with advocates like Marco Arment of Instapaper and Gina Trapani of Smarterware. A few others have gone to the extent of using treadmills at desks, or even treadputers (treadmills integrated with computer workstations).

My dream standing desks are these automated purpose-built ones from GeekDesk and Anthro – I was practically drooling when I read this NYTimes article. Unfortunately, there is no affordable options available in Singapore, so the next best bet is to custom-build one, or improvise the existing workstation, like this sleek standing desk combination of IKEA Expedit shelves.

An easy and quick way to create a makeshift standing desk is to use whatever you have on hand at home. Here are some ideas to create a makeshift standing desk, using items like ironing board, cardboard boxes and hacked cabinetry.

For me, I began with a mix of CD drawers to elevate the monitor and a disused cabinet add-on for my keyboard and mouse. One advantage of a makeshift standing desk is that you can easily dismantle the setup should you choose to revert to a sitting desk.

My experience of standing at the desk was surprisingly easier than I thought. That said, I have new found respect for those who have to stand at their jobs for hours every day, like sales promoters and nurses.

My legs did feel a little sore after six hours straight on my feet for the first few days, but no major pain or whatsoever. I shifted my standing position every few minutes and did some stretching while waiting for websites to load or files to open. I also wore terrycloth slippers and stood on a mat to make myself more comfortable.

After some weeks of trying out on a makeshift standing desk, I decided to get a proper standing desk, albeit adapted from a kitchen worktable by combining an IKEA Utby underframe and a Prägel worktop.

The result: –

IKEA Standing Desk

After a few days with the spanking new standing desk, I am now more at ease standing than sitting at the desk, and I no longer experience sleepy spells from the inertia of prolonged sitting. Of course I would not mind a gel mat to go along with the standing, but surely that can wait.

Standing desks may not be prevalent or practical in most workplaces yet, but nothing’s stopping you from trying it out at home. Just take ten minutes to clear the area and prop your computer up with stand(s) of choice, and voila! You are standing your way to better health!

So why wait? It’s time to make a stand, and the time’s now!

Sitting is Killing You
(Via: Medical Billing And Coding )


3 thoughts on “How a standing desk can save your life

  1. Hi Jenny,

    I’m a reporter from The Straits Times. We’re preparing an article on how more people are standing rather than sitting as they work. Would love to speak to you about your experience. Do please get in touch with me at 9 430 7078 or 6 319 5156. Alternatively, you may email me at

    Cheers, David


  2. Hi Jenny, like Paul I came across your blog because I was searching for standing desks in Singapore. Glad you posted what you did using IKEA items. I am going to do this too!


  3. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for a nice post. I was searching for stand-up desks in Singapore and found your blog. Thanks for your post and the recommendations.

    Also “seized by a whim”, I eventually bought a plain table top and 4 adjustable legs from IKEA. Total ~ 180 S$. Just started to use it yesterday.


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