Coding while standing

In the last month I have been working standing up most of the day. Why I chose to do this crazy thing of coding standing up is the topic of this week’s post.

As some of may know I come from a certain soccer playing country. We call it futebol, but I’ve lived in the states long enough to call it soccer. Some years ago I injured my L5 disc by playing soccer badly. No, really badly, the kind of soccer playing that would have made me a hit on youtube, luckily those games were not recorded. These days I am mostly pain free, but sitting for long periods is not good. 2010 was worse then most years, I found myself on long periods of time sitting down in long coding and writing sessions. Turns out writing a book takes a ton of time, who knew 😉

I saw some other developers talk about their standing setups, and decided to give it a try. If nothing else it would help keep my keyboard out of reach of our 2 year old. You have no idea how many Xcode compile errors I can get after he gets a hold of my Mac.

I’ve got a Dell 23inch monitor I use as my main display, so I stacked it and the keyboard+mouse on top of some boxes. This worked pretty well, except that the height was not quite right, and I ended up with a sore neck after some long days. During the first week my feet were killing me. I’ve got a carpeted office upstairs, but I found out wearing some flip flops cured the foot pain. You really need some arch support if you are standing most of the day.

Of course the stacked box system was not that convenient, moving to a sitting position required moving the boxes off the desk and being careful not to drop the monitor and Macbook Pro in the process. After a month I bit the bullet and ordered a GeekDesk. I went for the larger desk, as I still do a lot of note taking and design on paper, so I really liked having the extra space. I’ve had the GeekDesk since early December, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It works perfect, and it’s a breeze to move it up and down with the electric motor. Here is the desk in the down position:

So how is my work like nowdays? I stand up almost the entire day. If I am researching something or reading I will usually sit and use the iPad. The rest of the time I’m standing up. I feel a lot more alert, and have been able to cut down some of my coffee intake, which is good. It is a lot harder to slack off and daydream somewhere else when you are standing up, or you will start to lean and fall over.

Standing up all day is not without side effects, I end up dancing a lot more. That’s all I’m going to say about that 🙂

Some links on health perils of sitting all day:

Health Issues with Sitting All Day
Sitting = Death

How do you develop code, and what is your setup like?

This post is part of iDevBlogADay, a group of indie iOS development blogs featuring at least two posts per day. You can keep up with your favorite developers through the iDevBlogADay web site, RSS feed, or Twitter.



  1. Jake says:

    I do the same thing for the same reason, hurt my back lifting weights and sitting at a desk was killing me. I tried yoga, cardio (mostly road biking), lifting weights again (though much, much lighter) and physical therapy. While all that helped I still woke up most days with a stiff back. I created this setup out of an old treadmill, http://myideasareimportant.com/side-projects/walking-desks/ and that’s been about 6 weeks ago. My back feels better than it has in 2 years. I’m completely convinced that sitting all day (and for me all night because that’s when I do all my game design work) is the worst thing for your back.

  2. Cool post idea!

    I am on day two with the stack of boxes, etc. I can tell the difference in my legs, back, and attention already — for the better. I think I need some better shoes or some cushiony floor pad, but other than that, I like it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be ordering a geekdesk sometime soon.


    (I wish I could blame my back pain on old sports injuries, but I guess I can only claim the “old” part.)

  3. Zaid Crouch says:

    I’ve been reading a lot about this standing desk stuff recently, maybe I’ll try and put together a little test here.

    And you totally missed the chance for a “Coding on your feet” title 😛

  4. Rod says:

    That is a neat setup with the treadmill under the desk. How do you find you are using it? Do you end up walking most of the day, or just during non-coding periods, or ?

    I found that some flip flops with a minimal arch worked best for me, allowed my feet to breathe and no foot pain, YMMV. Of course it helps that my office is the warmest room in the house 🙂

  5. Jake says:

    I have a day job (I’m an analyst at a Hospital) where I have to sit at a desk, so I use it early in the morning and at night after work. I’ll write code for about an hour while walking/standing on it (I walk til I’m tired then stand for a few minutes, then walk again) in the morning and then another hour at night. I’m still getting used to it a little. I walk at about 1.5 mph. I want to get so I’m walking whenever I’m coding which would be more like 4 hours a day. I could lose a few pounds, so I figure it’s good for that, too.

    It’s weird. I didn’t think that walking would be a distraction, but I find it requires a little more concentration. I think eventually I’ll completely adapt to it.

    However, my back pain is almost gone, that was a distraction too.

    Once I release my amazing game that displaces angry birds I’ll quit my day job and code/walk all day. 🙂

  6. Great post on fitness

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