The latest buzz for good health is standing at your desk rather than sitting all day. Many companies now require standing desks for their employees, including the Secret Service. It’s common knowledge that you use more calories when you stand rather than sit and I was eager to do that. However, if you can’t afford to go out and buy one of the latest desks to accommodate standing, here is what you can do to accomplish the goal without spending a penny. It didn’t cost me anything to set up other than a few hours’ time and I can easily switch back to sitting on days when I’m not up to standing all day.
I’ve got a two-drawer metal file cabinet that I had already had my processor on as you can see from the photo from the previous post. If you don’t have a two-drawer file cabinet, use whatever piece of furniture that will work. A sturdy box will work. Printer machine boxes are good for this. Next to the processor, I stacked a cassette tape box, a CD storage box, a phone book and an empty, sturdy, exercise stretch band box to nearly reach the height of the processor. The idea is to use whatever you have that is sturdy and will allow for the weight of your hand. You are going to be using this stack of items for your mouse. Again, if you can find a sturdy box that will work, use it. Adjust as necessary for your comfort level. Use your ingenuity!
Place your monitor on the top, rear of your processor. You may need to tilt your monitor upward or place a phone book or two under it if you need it to be eye level. Place your keyboard on the top front of your processor. I placed my scotch tape dispenser in between the two to prevent my keyboard from sliding back and forth. Use whatever you have on hand. My processor has a raised edge in the front so that my keyboard won’t slide forward. If your processor doesn’t have such an edge, create a raised edge. Something as small as a pencil taped with masking tape on the edge of your processor might prevent your keyboard from slipping. You may have to experiment. The goal is for your keyboard and mouse to be at the level of your arms (while standing) when you bend them at a 90 degree angle.
Back to the Stack of Items for Your Mouse.
Place a mouse pad on top of the last item you had on your stack. It should be a big, sturdy mouse pad. I happened to have one. There are many things that can substitute for a mouse pad. Even a sturdy piece of cardboard can work. Then I took my 2 ½ pound ankle weight and wrapped it around the right end (the keypad end) of my keyboard. This is to hold it in place and prevent slipping from side to side and back and forth. Make sure part of the mouse pad is underneath the ankle weight to also prevent the mouse pad from slipping. This is why you need a big mouse pad. Wrap the Velcro strap of the ankle weight around the keyboard exactly over the keypad. (This won’t work if you use the keypad.) I never use the keypad if I need to type numbers. I always use the numbers at the top of the keyboard.
Support Your Feet
It is also suggested that you use a good mat to stand on to help support your feet. I buy mats when they go on sale, so I had two stored in my closet for when the mats I have get too dirty. They help to prevent tracking dirt into the house. Good shoes are also necessary. I put extra inner soles in my athletic shoes. So, I was prepared for my feet.
I used this setup when I wrote this for a total of 8 ½ hours with no disasters. Nothing slipped or fell. At the end of the day, I was very relieved to sit down! This is not easy on the body when you’re not used to standing. On the second day I tried it, I only lasted two hours. It takes some getting used to. When I decided to sit for a while, I moved my monitor, mouse, and keypad back to my desk. That took 5 minutes. I can easily go back to a standing position now that everything is set up.
Make sure you have enough cord length on all your electronics when you do this. Be prepared to rearrange items on your desk. I had a stack of file folders out that I was working on. Now, instead of a pile of them on top of my desk, I used a heavy-duty napkin holder that wasn’t getting any use, to stand up some of the folders and then to also act as a bookend for more folders. My printer served as the other “bookend.”
If you don’t want to create a standing desk, you can always sit on a fitness ball. These are great and use more muscles than you would think because you have to balance yourself on the ball. Sounds easy until you try it and it’s a good alternative.
Whenever I want to use my laptop computer in a standing position, I place it on my bookcase at a shelf that is comfortable for my arms.
Now all I have to do is figure out how to make a walking treadmill so I can walk in place while I work standing!