A standing desk is a desk conceived for writing, reading, or working, while standing up or while sitting on a high stool. The term stand-up or stand up desk is also used. During the 18th and 19th centuries, standing desks were popular in the homes and offices of the rich.
Users of standing desks have included British Prime Minster Winston Churchill, songwriter Oscar Hammerstein II, author Ernest Hemingway, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. founding father Benjamin Franklin.
While most seated desks are a standard height, there is no set height for standing desks. Heights can range from 36 to 50 inches (91 to 130 cm) range for users over 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m). Ideally a stand up desk is made to fit the individual user. As users of a seated desk are fairly immobile, it is relatively easy to adjust the height of a seat to compensate for variations in the individual height of the users. Users of a standing desk move around a bit more, so it is not practical to have them stand on a small pedestal or some other object. Thus, standing desks tend to vary greatly in height.
It was common in the past to have a standing desk made to measure to the height of the user, since only the rich could afford desks. A more versatile option is to give an angle or slant to the writing surface, as with a typical drawing table. It is also an option to produce a desk with adjustable legs which has made way for a precise desk form, the "table à tronchin" or "table à la tronchin".
A common solution today is the Computer desk, which enables height adjustments as well as other adjustments to further suit the individual.
Most antique standing desks have an open frame with few or little drawers, and a footrail (similar to those seen at a bar) to reduce back pain. It is more practical to make a hinged desktop which can be lifted to give access to a small cabinet placed underneath it, despite the problems this layout can cause to objects left on it. This way the user can store or retrieve papers and writing implements without bending or standing back from the desk.
There are many specialized standing desks such as certain variations of the telephone desk and certain types of wall mounted desks. Some drafting desks and architectural drafting tables are also made for standing. One U.S. manufacturer of solid wood standing desks offers over 22 different styles with hundreds of variations for both stand-up desks and drafting tables. Most stand up desks are fixed height and can only be used while standing up. Some of the more interesting (and expensive) standing desks are adjustable-height, allowing the user to sit or stand by adjusting the desk height using an electric motor, hand crank or counter balance system.
Other variations include platforms that sit on top of your current "sit-down" desk. These platforms may be essentially a box placed on a sit-down desk'. They may also be a folding platform placed on top of a sit-down desk, which allows the desk surface to be raised or lowered to accommodate standing and sitting. There are also 'computer elevators' which allow a laptop to be raised to a standing height above a sit-down desk.
A 2013 study by the University of Chester showed that using a standing desk caused the heart to beat an average of 10 beats faster per minute than when sitting. This equates to an additional 50 calories an hour burnt. Extrapolated over an average of 3 hours standing a day, 5 days a week, it equates to 750 calories a week; 30,000 extra calories burnt a year. Prolonged stationary periods are linked with problems of blood glucose control and reduced production of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, both of which contribute to an increased risk of heart attack. The study found the blood glucose of those using standing desks "fell back to normal levels after a meal far more quickly" than those who sat. One volunteer with arthritis also reported improved symptoms after using a standing desk.
Manufacturers of standing desks point to several studies showing reduced back injuries or less back pain for the users of standing desks. In February 2010, Olivia Judson wrote a post in the Opinionator (an online commentary section of the New York Times) about the benefits of using a standing desk. A study published in Diabetes Care established a relationship between ill health and a sedentary lifestyle and a study by the American Cancer Society published on July 22, 2010 found that time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level.
On the other hand, "scientists in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined 17 studies on occupational sitting and cancer[when?], and found little to no connection and some experts in occupational health worry that hours of uninterrupted standing could be bad for your body". In fact, standing up for long periods can also be a problem, and the health improvements of standup desks have not been clearly established.
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