Don't sit: Superior natives create cheap, portable standing desk

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A lot of people appear willing to pay a bit of money in order to stand up more often.

And a couple of Superior natives are happy to help.

Longtime friends Luke Leafgren and Paul Peterson, along with Paul's wife Lindsay, have teamed together to create the StandStand – a portable, relatively cheap stand for laptops that allow the user to stand while using it rather than sit, Northland's NewsCenter reports.

And their hometown could see jobs from it.

The trio launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money, with a target of $15,000. It opened Aug. 25, and one month in had already reached $27,000. Funding continues through Oct. 20.

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Leafgren, who now lives on the East Coast, came up with the idea after reading about the dangers of sitting, he says on the Kickstarter campaign – a common story in health news in recent months.

"I started getting nervous because my work and hobbies have me sitting at the computer for many hours every day," he writes. "I thought about investing a lot of money in a standing desk ... But standing desks stay in one place, and I like to use my laptop at home, the office, the library, the dining hall, the cafe, everywhere."

Standing desks or laptop lifters often run at least a few hundred dollars.

And that's how the $50 StandStand came about.

It's essentially three wood panels – two stand horizontal, and criss-cross. The third locks in on top, creating the spot to rest a laptop. Users can take it apart and put it together at will. When apart, all three boards stack together flush.

"It weighs less than two pounds, it folds up to the same size of a MacBook, it folds up in to your backpack, you can open it ... wherever you are and use it at any time," Peterson told FOX 21.

Each panel of a StandStand measures three-eights inches thick. But according to the KickStarter campaign, it can hold at least 900 pounds while set up. There's even a video demonstrating it.

Peterson (seen at left in the shop) is in charge of the production. He now owns and operates Rob's Custom Cabinetry in Superior, which was originally his father Rob Peterson's shop. He recommended wood types to use – the Baltic birch model is $50, the bamboo model $90 – and helped finalize the design, to make it as structurally resilient and reliable as possible.

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The company plans to buy faster cutting machine with the money, to produce StandStands at a faster rate than if they were all made by hand. But Leafgren says either way, they'll all be made near home, Northland's NewsCenter says.

"[The] condition is that it's made in the Twin Ports – possibly create jobs here, in the Twin Ports, as his way of giving back," he told the station.

Sitting unhealthy, but dangers may be exaggerated

While standing is, in general, better than sitting, reports that "sitting is the new smoking" may be overstated.

The New York Times reported many popular anti-sitting studies were “associational, meaning that they found a link between sitting and illness, but could not prove whether or how sitting actually causes ill health.”

This piece from WBUR in Boston, called “‘Sitting Is The New Smoking’? Well, No, But Got Your Attention,” waded into the sitting-related health claims in an effort to try and determine whether “the health data really show that sitting is tantamount to smoking, the ultimate unhealthy behavior?”

The station spoke with Yale University’s Dr. David Katz, who says the “sitting is the new smoking” message is often overblown despite evidence that too much time spent sitting is not healthy.

He points out that lack of physical activity alone is not enough to explain the rise in chronic health problems in the United States. Among the other important factors to consider, he says, are diet, sleep, stress and mental health.

The Mayo Clinic advises people help their boy “by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.”

“The impact of movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound. For starters, you’ll burn more calories. This might lead to weight loss and increased energy,” researcher and anti-sitting evangelist Dr. James Levine (note: he is the inventor of the treadmill desk) writes on the Mayo website.

Here are some tips from Mayo on ways to sit less:

  • Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
  • If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
  • Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.

Mayo also has a slideshow of eight stretches to do at your desk. The Cleveland Clinic has advice, too, on how to accomplish these four goals: set up a health workspace, do desk exercises, get up throughout the day and do short cardio exercises during the day.

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