The White House is ordering up to $700,000 of standing desks -- here's why you should consider getting one, too

Obama on the phone in the oval office
Obama on the phone in the oval office

The highest office in the land is taking up standing desks.

In late September, the White House officially requested up to $700,000 worth of standing desks.

GovExec uncovered a public solicitation from the Executive Office of the President, in which the administration outlined in detail the kinds of desk equipment they want ("Varidesk brand name or equal").

If you're wondering whether you too should take a stand, here are a few advantages of standing rather than sitting at work:

  • A reduced risk of obesity. People who are "fidgety," researchers say, tend to be thinner than those who stay still all day.

  • A lower risk of metabolic problems and cardiovascular disease.Research suggests that sitting for too long can mess up your body's metabolism of sugar and fat, which can contribute to diabetes and heart disease.

  • A reduced risk of cancer for women. Though it's unclear how exactly sitting increases the risk of cancer, it's possible that sitting for too long decreases metabolism, and may have an effect on body fat and estrogen levels, all of which may be linked to the development of some cancers.

  • A lower long-term mortality risk, presumably because you're less likely to die from issues like diabetes and cancer. One study found that if Americans limited their sitting to just three hours per day, life expectancy could increase by two years.

  • Increased productivity and focus. One study found that people were 10% more productive when they used a standing desk compared to when they were sitting. Participants in the study noted that they found it easier to concentrate when they were standing.

The White House's request comes at an interesting point in the standing-desk craze: They're common enough that most offices have at least a few workers using them, but not so ordinary that people know what proper standing-desk "etiquette" is.

For example, The New York Times recently ran stories called "What to Wear at a Standing Desk" and "How to Use a Standing Desk Without Annoying Your Coworkers." (Heels are a hindrance and underwear is a must, according to standing-desk aficionados interviewed by The Times.)

As one publishing consultant quoted in the latter Times article said, standing desks are "still viewed as being somewhat dorky." But it's possible that standing desks could become more mainstream now that Barack Obama's jumped on the bandwagon. Workers might be more likely to request that their employers provide them with standing desks and companies might be more inclined to grant their requests.

In the meantime, here's how to create a standing desk of your own.

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