10-28-14 Update: (I’ve been trying to keep track of and make a useful matrix for standing desks on my new site www.standwalkwork.com.)
One of the absolute cheapest options I can think of is to simply buy some cinder blocks and put a regular desk up on top of them.
It’s simple, cheap, and effective. There are plenty of people out there that have done this successfully. If you want something a bit more presentable, a step up from that is to use a desk “hutch”, which can essentially be a small coffee table, often made from re-purposed Ikea items placed on top of a regular desk. Something like the IKEA Lack Coffee Table Additionally, make people have had success with simply taping a cardboard box to the top of their desk also. (I’ve been doing this at work with an iMac box.)
The hutches are great low cost options, but you may need to do some work sawing down some of the legs to get the right height. Desk height is very important for proper ergonomics. Additionally, you would have to either modify two of them to create a shelf for your keyboard, or use a laptop. If the hutch is too cumbersome for you, Ikea also makes some fancy wall mounted folding tables, for example, the Ikea Wall-Mounted Drop-leaf Folding Table
These are nice since you can attach them to the wall at your desired height, they’re relatively cheap, and they actually look nice when compared to cinder blocks (although most things do). The downside of this wall mounted setup is, again, that you don’t have a separate shelf for your keyboard and you could probably only fit a laptop on that stand unless you wanted to get fancy and use multiple shelves. Also, upgrading to a treadmill desk may be a problem.
Ikea used to have the ideal product for a standing desk in their Jerker and Fredrik desk series. These desks were in the lower-mid price range, and were hailed as great adjustable height desks. I use a Fredrik that I was able to get used off craigslist since Ikea has stopped selling both of these models. I’m not sure why they did this since there are entire websites dedicated to memorializing these desks for their greatness. If you’re persistent and/or lucky, you may be able to find one of these desks on your local Craigslist listings for around $40-50 bucks. Make sure to search for “Ikea desk” in general. Sometimes people won’t list the name of their desk, but you can still identify a Jerker or Fredrik from the picture.
At the other end of the cost spectrum more fancy pre-made standing desks. I’ve seen people use the Safco 1929CY Adjustable Height Stand-Up Workstation, which is a decent mid price option. The Buddy Products Stand Up Workstation also looks like a pretty decent option. At work, other people have been using standing desks similar to the Ergotron WorkFit-D, Sit-Stand Desk quite successfully, although a box or books are needed to elevate the monitor to the proper height. A more professional solution to that is to also get some monitor mounts like the LX Desk Mount LCD Arm.
You’ll notice that these desks have supports on the sides so sticking a treadmill in between is possible. The Confidence Power Plus Treadmill (The one I use) says it’s 24″ wide (with the bars), but you can shave off at least 2″ by removing the bars. Make sure the desk you choose has enough clearance before you buy!
The Trekdesk is a beast of a desk allows you to place a pretty substantial standing height desk over your existing treadmill. If you want to actually run while working (can’t really see how you could do that accurately though), or if you already have a large treadmill you want to convert, this may be your best option. I also like that it’s kind of “U” shaped, which might be good for supporting your mouse arm’s elbow. The Lifespan Treadmill Desk is a nice all in one option for desk and treadmill, but it’s too expensive for my taste. However, these desks both have a flat surface, so you may need a some monitor mounts to the appropriate ergonomic height.
There are many other fancy custom made desks you can pay out the wazoo for. Because I’m a poor student, I don’t plan on buying these to review for you, sorry. But, I do know what makes for a good desk. If you decide to get a fancy expensive desk, make sure that what you get is 1) Stable, 2) Large enough for your workstation (multiple monitors), 3) Is adjustable in height (for different people / different shoes), and 4) Supports your monitor at an appropriate height relative to your head and keyboard (a separate keyboard shelf is ideal). (See ergonomics) The height adjustment is probably the most important feature since it’s going to be different for different people, different treadmills, different shoes, and different ergonomic setups. These four properties are essential for a functional desk.
Finally, if you just want a standing desk and don’t plan on using a treadmill then you will definitely need some sort of padding for your feet. Something like this Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat is going to be essential. Your feet are going to be the first things to get tired and sore, guaranteed. However, I do think that walking is easier, more natural, and better for you than only standing, but to each his own.
So now you have your standing desk, now we go onwards to finding the treadmill!
Here are some pictures of the desk setup I made using an Ikea Fredrik desk I got for $40 off of craigslist.
As you can see, the legs are on the side and there is plenty of room for a flat treadmill underneath. You’ll have to find a treadmill without the bars, or removable bars though. To see what I’ve found is the cheapest possible treadmill that works, visit Getting a Treadmill. Here are some close ups of the connection points that make the desk adjustable. It’s fairly easy to take apart and move around.
I also like that the desk is wide enough to support 2 monitors. I have to put them at a slight angle, but it doesn’t really bother me at all. Here’s what I mean:
Alternatively, if you can’t find a used desk and don’t like the cinder block idea or the other other ones mentioned, there are lots of DIY Ikea standing height desks on the web. There are many examples of people putting together Ikea parts like the Expedit bookshelves and various Ikea legs and making a standing height desk that looks rather nice. The downside is that they’re most likely going to be big, heavy, and non-adjustable. (Thus, you have to be of the correct height for the specific design or be creative with combining parts together.) These desks tend to be around $200-300 dollars + building time. They’re probably cheaper and better than the really expensive commercial options, but may be a pain to plan and build. Here are some examples that I was considering before I found a Fredrik desk on craigslist, they might also help you get ideas if you want to make your own.
Feel free to comment with your own creation and I’ll add it to my list.
And finally, if you don’t like the idea of standing at a desk, but still want to avoid sitting somehow. There have been recommendations from readers for the Fitdesk Compact Pedal Desk. It looks pretty nice for a laptop and seems better than sitting! (but walking is superior!!)