Sit-Stand Desks, Adjustable Desks, Treadmill Desks, and Mats
We started as hunters, gatherers, farmers, builders, and soldiers. Activity and labor is what brought us food and shelter. Over time it took fewer and fewer hours to grow and find food and people could specialize their skills. As the time has progressed, now only a very small number of people are involved in farming and physical labor as their primary career. The result: most of us sit at a desk all day.
And, this has health consequences.
It took us decades to discover the proper ergonomics for sitting at a desk all day and even bringing it up makes you think of sitting up, flat feet, 90 degree elbows, and an ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse. The consequence of not yet knowing good ergonomics is the generations of people with arthritis in their hands, elbows, and shoulders from sitting at a desk job. Now we know keyboards can have an ergonomic layout. Office chairs adjust up and down. There are ergonomics consultants. There are computer mice that don’t require us to move our arm or wrist.
The next major discovery in office worker health is that sitting all day is awful. Sedentary anywhere is awful for our health, in fact. People who move more at work, walk to meetings, and adjust their work position are healthier, happier, and feel better when they go home to their families, hobbies, and friends. This discovery is what inspired this website: NotSitting.com.
I want you to know what you need to know about ergonomics and products so that you can purchase something right for you. Everything from standing mats to sit-stand desks to adjustable desks, to treadmill desks. Did you know that among all of them only a few are actually designed by engineers and ergonomics experts? Here you’ll find out what is best for you and you’ll be able to decide what is best for you now and worth investing in so that you have a comfortable, healthy today and future.
Humans are not designed specifically for desk work or repetitive tasks. That is simply a fact. We are much better as fluid, changing, adjusting, creatures. This is what has brought rise to the thousands of products available to help you work at your desk differently. Ergonomically the sitting desk worker has it pretty good these days. Sit up. Arms on the arm rests. Ergonomic keyboard that your wrists float over with 90-degree elbows. Monitor just so. And a mouse that doesn’t require you to move your arm or wrist.
Now, let’s consider standing… did you know that when you stand the sitting ergonomics recommendations start to fall apart? Did you know that a mat under your feet while you stand take pressure points off your feed helping to eliminate the kankles that so many people develop?
Once you start walking in front of your desk… literally moving side to side as you walk… the sitting-based ergonomics are really a bad idea? Stop and think about this for a few minutes. Your body is moving side to side as you walk, even if slightly, and you’re trying to will your body to keep your hands in a stationary position over your keyboard. You’ve got the idea now… sitting ergonomics aren’t really what your body is made for while walking.
So, what do we do? We have to discover and create office furniture and equipment that supports this new way of being at a desk… this “better” way of being at a desk. It is true that a treadmill desk that you can also sit at will be amazing for you but one with poor ergonomics will make it worse down the road. Shoulder surgery. Arthritis. Varicose Veins may all still be in your future if you don’t get the ergonomics right.
Read on to get the scoop on how to choose the common components of a standing desk, adjustable desk, treadmill desk, sit-stand desk, mat, monitor stand, keyboards, and computer mice. Trust me when I tell you your body will be a much nicer place to be if you choose carefully.
Treadmill desks are trendy, hip, and the absolute best place to go for your health and fitness. What you really need to understand is that there are tons of junk treadmills out there based on the ones at your gym and the treadmill that handles 1-3 MPH is completely different than one that can go 10-14 MPH. You also need to know that there are a ton of junk desks out there too. You probably want something that can take a couple nice big monitors and not tip over. You probably also want something that puts your arms and hands in the correct ergonomic position for being on a treadmill.
Look for these features in a treadmill desk:
- A quiet treadmill
- A desk that adjusts height (for different users)
- “Arms-down” keyboard tray because sitting ergonomics are a bad idea when walking!
- Weight capacity that can handle monitors on the back line
- Desktop that handles spills and doesn’t imprint when you write on it
- Ease of use (electric desk, simple treadmill lubrication)
- Warranty / Quality
Here are my recommended products:
There are many other popular models but they do not address the quality, ergonomics, and noise level that the above versions do. Since I am asked all the time what is popular, here they are. Just realize after years of use these will fail and eventually the ergonomics mean you will be dealing with all the negative consequences of sitting desks before we understood the ergonomics.
This is really the core of what most people are looking for when they come to NotSitting.com. Desks that can change height from a comfortable sitting posture to a comfortable standing posture with a hand crank or electric motor. When looking for one of these desks you need
- Quality motors or hand crank (one is not more reliable than the other, they both fail)
- A desk that is strong enough to handle all the weight at the back of the desk (since that is where your monitors go)
- Stability with the weight of a monitor arm and dual monitors attached
- A surface that will not warp when you spill coffee or soda on it
- A surface that doesn’t permanently imprint when you write on it
- A nice warranty
For the desktop you want a medical/hospital grade laminate top. These don’t let moisture in when something is spilled and they have a strong outer laminate layer that doesn’t permanently imprint due to writing on it. Of course, you can buy at any price range and get what you pay for.
|Desk Type||What to Look For||Jeff’s Pick|
|Budget||I didn’t tell you to get this… it’s not worth your money… there are just a lot of suckers out there who thing you can buy good stuff cheap.|
|Mid-Range||This is a desk worth buying. Understand that it isn’t going to last as well as your expectations for the price.|
|Lifetime Desk||A desk with medical-grade laminate, working size, high quality motors and gears, and overbuilt so that your monitor stand doesn’t tip it over at maximum height.|
There are so many sit-stand desks on the market! You can find them on Amazon, kickstarter, and just straight up Google. The reason there is so many is that, at their most basic, it is easy to create one from wood, plastic, or basic metal parts. What you don’t see when you look at those options is their limitations. If you want to really correctly handle the ergonomics of switching from sitting to standing and back, there is more that the desk needs to handle. If you want to mount a couple monitors on a nice monitor arm, then most stands aren’t rated for that and may simply tip backwards. Here are my picks.
|Desk Type||What to Look For||Jeff’s Pick|
|Entry Level||If you just want to see what it is like to stand then this is the way to do it. On the cheap. Don’t try to put more than one monitor on it though…|
|Mid-Range||If you want a desk with a decent capacity, quality, ergonomics, and price, here is your best bet.|
|A desk worth buying||If you want the ergonomics to be close to correct and something that will last 10 years. This is Jeff’s pick.|
Think you can buy any mat for a standing desk? Well you could. Just like all these other categories: there are products for sale and then there are the products that you will love and are for sale. Did you know that a kitchen mat is designed for someone without shoes on but a high quality standing desk mat is designed for someone wearing shoes?
- Do you use a standing desk at home with your shoes off? If so, then you actually want a good quality kitchen mat.
- Do you use a standing desk at the office with your shoes on? If so, then you want a mat designed for a standing desk.
- Are you a woman who wears nonsupporting shoes like flats or heals? If so, the quality of your standing mat will make a huge difference in your life.
To choose a mat start with the questions above because they provide the product guidance you need. If you are exceptionally price sensitive then I suggest you don’t get a mat at all.
|Wear Shoes?||What to Look For||Jeff’s Pick|
|Yes/Trainers||You want a standing desk mat since these are made with foam that responds best when you have shoes on. You get what you pay for…|
|Yes/Unsupportive||The quality of the foam in your mat is extremely important. It needs to provide better support and be more durable since your shoes aren’t providing it.|
|No||You want a high quality kitchen mat since these are made with foam designed for someone without shoes on.|
|Yes/On Treadmill||If you have a treadmill desk and want to be able to stand, this is a mat designed to sit on a treadmill surface.|
|Chair/Standing||If you want to put a chair on the mat sometimes and others stand on it, then you need a cover on the mat that stands up to the chair. Not all can handle this.|
Monitor arms are a critical piece of the ergonomics setup of any desk: sitting, adjustable, standing, treadmill, or otherwise. Monitor arms are extremely important for adjustable desks, electric desks, and treadmill desks. The reason is that the distance between your hands and your eyes changes when you stand up. This means that a monitor at a proper height for sitting ergonomics is probably in the wrong position for you when you stand up.
Treadmill desks take this to a new level because you are moving and the desk is going to move with you a little (assuming you buy a good-for-you desk). Monitor arms designed for treadmill desks help you keep focused, reduce eye strain, and even save you from vertigo and motion sickness in some folks.
|Desk Type||What to Look For||Jeff’s Pick|
|Treadmill Desk||The monitor arm needs to be absolutely solid and you need to be able to tild the keyboard away from you. If you buy one of the recommended, pantented desks from iMovR then you can buy the Adjustable Desk suggestion for a lower price than this one since your keyboard already moves the right way.|
|Adjustable Desk||Since the distance between your hands and head changes when you change positions you need an arm that allows for easy height changes on the monitor(s).|
|Sitting Desk||Strength and adjustability matter a lot less in this situation and a stationary arm or budget arm might work for you. Do think about whether you want to be able to tilt a monitor for someone else to see it, or if you want a vertical option.|
|Sit-Stand Desk||There are almost no sit-stand desks capable of holding a monitor arm since they expect the weight to be down the center line of the unit. Jeff’s pick is actually a monitor arm that makes your desk a sit-stand. With this unit, you don’t need your Varidesk, StandSteady, or other unit.|
|Bicycle Desk||These desks move like treadmill desks but of course, the ergonomics are different. My pick is the same as the Treadmill Desk in this case.|
|Elliptical Desk||Placing an elliptical under your desk is a lot like having a treadmill there, but again, with different ergonomics. Again, this is the same pick as the Treadmill Desk.|