Standing or walking desks may help you live longer
Standing desks are the latest trend in the startup culture of cities like New York, San Francisco or anywhere in Silicon Valley. These desks emerged in response to a growing body of research that indicates that a sedentary lifestyle -- specifically, sitting for extended periods of time -- is hazardous to your health.
There are dozens of articles citing research that sitting all day is bad for your health. When you add up the time you spend sitting at your desk at the office, the time spent in the car driving to and from the office, and the time you spend sitting at home, watching television, eating dinner or doing other sedentary activities, it's not difficult to exceed 15 hours a day sitting, according to Lifehacker. Experts say that even dedicated exercisers are at risk, calling them the "active sedentary," since they may sit too much in between hard workouts.
Sit-to-stand desks are height-adjustable desks. They can be raised or lowered to the proper ergonomic height for your stature, and they can be lowered fully when you need to take a break and sit down for a while. Sit-to-stand desks generally offer a range of heights between 23 and 52 inches, adjustable either manually or electronically. Sit-to-stand desks are generally basic in design, with a simple frame and a large, flat working surface. Most don't have drawers and other storage options some standard desks have, but those with electronic controls often have digital displays to show the current height.
Standing desk frames are not height adjustable, but also cost much less. They're generally constructed of aluminum or stainless steel, with desk tops made from of a range of woods, laminates and other materials. Stand-up desks vary widely in price, from under $1,000 to $4,000 and up. Some popular standing computer desks have a base price, but offer a variety of add-on features you can choose during purchase that add to the overall cost.
You'll also want to invest in a quality anti-fatigue mat. To prevent sore feet and legs, especially in your early days of standing, you need a good standing desk mat, which provides additional support for your foot arches to reduce fatigue and back pain from extended periods of standing. Standing desk mats range in price from about $40 to $90 or more, and in this category, you get what you pay for; the more expensive mats get much more positive feedback in reviews than their cheaper counterparts.
Another standing option is a desktop add-on. These units are placed on top of a standard desk to raise a computer monitor and keyboard to a standing-height level. They cost less, ranging from a few hundred dollars to about $600. Desktop add-ons typically have a manual height adjustment, and most have a smaller range of possible height settings than full standing-desk configurations.
Since you'll likely use the seated position at least part of the time, investing in an ergonomic office chair is also a good idea. Check out our report on office chairs for the best options in your price range.
A treadmill desk helps you stay fit and energized while being productive. Having the option to sit or stand while you work is great, but what if there's a way to get even more health benefits out of your time spent at your office desk? That's where treadmill desks come in, which are basically standing desks with a treadmill base unit that sits underneath the desk area so you can walk at a slow pace with easy access to your working space. Treadmill desks can operate at speeds ranging from 0.4 miles per hour to 4 miles per hour, although most reviewers say the ideal speed for maintaining productivity is about 1.5 or 2 miles per hour.
Treadmill desks range in price from about $800 to $1,500 and up. Like standing desks, treadmill desks usually offer optional add-ons like custom power strips, which enhance functionality but also add to the upfront cost, so you'll have to weigh their usefulness for your personal lifestyle in deciding whether these features are worth it.
If you're considering a standing desk or a walking desk because you're trying to lose weight or commit to a healthier lifestyle, there are other tools that work well with these desks, such as fitness trackers, to monitor your progress and help you stay on track with your goals. Check out our report on fitness trackers for the best gadget that suits your lifestyle.
ConsumerSearch analyzes dozens of expert reviews and hundreds of owner-written reviews to identify the best standing desks, treadmill desks and standing desk mats. Editors evaluate features and costs, quality of design and construction, usability, and other key considerations to determine the standout products in each category.