Deskmate Feature In Wired Magazine

January 17, 2021 2 min read

The best low-cost standing desks to ease your lockdown backache

Mixing up your WFH routine by sitting and standing will keep your mind sharper and body in better shape. Here are the best low- and no-cost options to transform your home office

You’ve finally moved from the sofa to a desk and invested in a proper office chair, but given how little most of us now move during the working day, the time has come to make a stand for better posture and improved productivity.

While any significant weight-loss claims have long been refuted – standing burns roughly 88 calories an hour compared to 80 calories while sitting – there’s strong evidence to suggest not sitting at the desk for hours can improve back pain, posture, mental health and even lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

On the flip side, standing still for long periods of time isn’t great either, with back, leg and foot pain all common symptoms.

The solution for healthier WFH is therefore a mixture of sitting, standing and generally moving, as Catherine Quinn, president of the British Chiropractic Association explains. “The good news is that simple changes can make a really big difference to all age groups," she says. "Our bodies love variation, so try to change the position you work in – if you work at a desk or table, consider a laptop stand which will allow you to work standing up. I’ve improvised with a small coffee table on top of my desk as a DIY standing desk. Just make sure your screen is eye level.”

What is a desk riser / standing desk converter?

These adjustable units sit on your existing desk and give you the option of sitting or standing with your laptop, keyboard and monitor staying in the ideal position for comfortable working.

You can adjust the height to suit, and, depending on the model you choose, they can be raised electronically or done manually either using brute force (to be avoided) or with the help of gas lifts.

Price, specification and quality varies enormously, with desk risers costing from £75 - £450, but if you already use a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse, and not just your laptop, which is an ergonomic nightmare regardless of whether you sit or stand, you can create your own.

If you’re feeling inventive IKEA Hackers is a great source of DIY inspiration, but in truth, a pile of books, small coffee table or empty boxes can just as well do the job, assuming you get the ergonomics right.

Your desk needs to be deep enough to give 50-70cm distance between your eyes and your monitor. The screen should be tilted up at around 20 degrees, and the top should be at or slightly below eye level to avoid slouching. As with any desk, your wrists should be straight and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows.

A desk riser – or pile of books - and wireless keyboard on a standard kitchen worktop might be ideal for occasional stand-up sessions, and a healthy change of scenery, while Deskmate, the pop-up cardboard box riser, offers a cheap (from £29.90) and surprisingly robust alternative if the DIY route doesn’t suit

Thanks Wired!

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