How To Build A Healthier PC Gaming Table For Under $300

You love your PC. It's a place you can work at, but more importantly, it's a place you can game at. The thing is, if you're using a traditional desk-and-chair setup, the more you game on the PC, the bigger the problem you're creating for yourself.

I don't want to sound like your mother here, but sitting - or, as many of you probably do, slouching - in a chair at a desk for a massive session of DOTA 2, or Skyrim, or whatever, isn't exactly the healthiest thing for you. Especially if you're doing it for hours at a time.

That's why workplaces give you breaks. It's why airlines recommend you move around every few hours. Indeed, in terms of everything from blood circulation to food digestion to calorie-burning, sitting down for extended periods of time is one of the worst things you can be doing to your body short of putting poison in it or having something hit you very hard.

But it's OK. I'm here to help. You don't need to stop your ten-hour gaming sessions to save your body. You just need to change the way you're sitting. Or, well, stop sitting altogether.

Sure, you could just get a really good chair and remember to take breaks, but good chairs are expensive, and taking breaks is for cowards (or, more seriously, something even those with the best intentions can easily forget if they're immersed in a game). So last year, I went a little further and jumped on the standing office bandwagon, partly because I was about to lose my office to a newborn child, but mostly because I was finding it detrimental to my health. Because I work 9-10 hour days, then spend most of my gaming time at the same PC afterwards, I'd get a sore back, a sore neck and pain in my hips. I wasn't overweight, per se, but let's say that despite being fairly active outside of work hours, I wasn't exactly fighting fit.

Worst of all, sitting down all day just made me feel horrible. Like I was ending my day in a thick fog, having been in the same position, in the same room, for most of my waking hours.

Having looked at various internet guides, I found most to be either too crummy for my needs (more suited to the occasional user) or prohibitively expensive.

Ignore those guides. If you feel like getting a little more active and trying this out, you can go to IKEA and get a kickass desk for under $300 Australian, meaning most of you, regardless of where you live, can easily do the same. Below you'll find the various components for the desk I put together a few months back which you can see above. It's a Frankenstein's Monster approach, I know, but it still looks pretty good!

DESK

Vika Kaj adjustable legs ($25 each) The only way you can get a standing desk this cheap is to improvise, and the only way to do that at IKEA is to get these legs, which extend enough to accommodate all but the tallest of you.

Linnmon Table ($49) Because you're just putting a piece of wood on some legs, you can opt for any tabletop, really, but I liked the Linnmon, because, despite the gloosy white finish, it was super cheap.

STORAGE

Ekby Alex ($99) Pricey for what it is, since it's really just a little box with some shelves inside, but you need somewhere to put a monitor and speakers, so you may as well put them somewhere you can also store miscellaneous crap inside as well.

Signum ($20) This standing setup doesn't have the luxury of letting you dump 17 cables and power adapters in the corner, so you need something tidier. This does the trick. Just bolt it underneath the tabletop.

Summera ($30) Basically a cradle for your PC, it lets you sling your computer under the table and keep it off the ground. Not a necessity, but it sure makes cleaning the area — and accessing your PC — a lot easier than most traditional setups.

One more thing you can't get from IKEA, but which you'll definitely need, is a mat. They'll be called different things depending on where you live, but you know those thick rubber mats security guards stand on? Yeah, you'll want one of those.

An important thing to note is that this isn't for everyone. Maybe you've got a bad ankle. Maybe you've got nowhere else to put that fancy office chair but under a desk. That's OK! Nobody is forcing you to do this. I'm just saying it's something you could totally just try.

Another thing is that if you do try this out, as my colleague Kirk Hamilton's butt will attest, there is a little adjustment period. Usually around two weeks, while your legs and back get used to all the standing. Once that's done, though, as insane as this sounds, your body really won't mind. You should be able to stand for hours at a time and be totally fine, because you will have guns, only not on your arms. On your legs.

And your body will thank you for it.


Howtu is Kotaku's guide on how to get the most out of your gaming.


Comments

    This is a good idea, except for leaving out 2 huge health tips. Standing still on a hard surface (which most people will be unless you have extremely plush carpet) can be just as bad for your health long term as sitting and slouching in front of a computer, for some people you will end up worse worse.

    1) Use a thick rubber mat to stand on, an OH&S approved one would be good, any thick rubber mat would be fine. Standing is good for the body, standing still for prolonged amounts of time especially on hard surfaces is not.

    2) Unless you have perfectly formed feet (almost nobody does any more) you basically should be wearing shoes the entire time, with good support. Nothing flattens your feet out more then standing still for hours at a time on a hard surface. The rubber will mitigate some of the need for this but not by any means all of it.

      Shoes are relatively new in the history of humans and you'll get by totally fine in bare feet. You'll even notice your back will naturally straighten over time giving you better posture and stance. I doubt anyone will stand perfectly still either. I know when I play games I tend to get very into it, ducking with my character etc. Not to mention you'll move around when you are waiting for loading times.

      The only this does wrong is the need to fit it to the wall. As someone renting, I can't go drilling holes in walls. Though it doesn't look all that complicated to mod.

        Sure shoes are new, but so are hardwood/concrete/etc floors, before shoes we walked in dirt and other soft and conforming materials, rarely hard materials, and it is because of shoes and these hard floors that humans feet have started falling and becoming misshapen.

        So as I said unless you have perfectly formed feet, enjoy your fallen arches and microfractures from the pressure.

        As for the small amounts of moving around, sure you will but not nearly enough. There is a reason anyone required to stand behind a counter for work needs a rubber flooring.

          After six years of wearing vibram five fingers and various other 'minimal styled' shoes I'm yet to receive any of these fallen arches or microfractures. Despite popular opinion our body is developed, hardened and evolved from our hunter gathering days; days that our ancestors walked over everything. Grass, sand, rocks, ash, pine... You name it; your feet have walked it.

          Now day's be it our fat burning oddly curved shoes or the massive foam padding put in runners we end up with shin splints, hairline bone fractures and knee reconstructions. Don't doubt your feet. They'll carry you through. :D

          As for the moving, I highly doubt you can stand for five hours on the spot without either sitting down or moving enough to release tension in your muscles, it's near impossible. (But easy to do sitting down.)

            "It hasn't happened to me so it means it wont happen at all to anyone! Ever!"

            Really bad logic. Really bad. He's right about the mat, he's right about protective footwear when standing in one spot for an extended period of time. Microfractures can happen, the thing is you likely won't know until later in your life when you actually bother getting youself Xrayed and see a bunch of what looks like 'scarring' up and down the bone where you've healed multiple times without knowing it.

            As for the moving, I highly doubt you can stand for five hours on the spot without either sitting down or moving enough to release tension in your muscles, it's near impossible.

            Ever worked in a kitchen before...

            Last edited 30/05/13 3:39 pm

              So if it's happened to you it will happen to everyone? Sounds like "really bad logic".

              Plenty of research show's otherwise. I ground out the cartilage that connects my legs to my hip (it essentially looks like an O ring), I've torn ligaments in the heel of my foot and I've had minor shin splints all while wearing the typical keyano runners. Six years ago after recovering from the cartilage injury a physio recommended I try barefoot shoes, and guess what? Injury free for six years!

              A mat might be helpful, but it's not a necessity and protective footwear is no better. Look at our history; look at how young nike/brooks and adidas are. You feet are a honed and finely tune machine, built to be used. Stop mashing them into the end of a shoe.

              Native barefoot populations in the Philippines and Central Africa foot shape.
              http://img.skitch.com/20090505-k3pfpa6c7exbg14dk2xa9813q9.jpg

              Typical business shoe population of the world.
              http://img.skitch.com/20090505-pccgu9n3ijyhpribgu8h4b92j2.jpg

              Just take a guess at which shape foot offers more support, and better alignment. Hint, it's the first one.

              Ever worked in a kitchen before...
              You stand on the spot next to the stove for 8 hours? You don't move to get ingredients? Plates? Cleaning? Even better, how about actually try standing on the spot for an hour. You'll find you can't.

                I used to work in a carpark, in a booth where we couldn't move for up to 10 hour shifts. Your idea of 'can't' is way different to what has to be done sometimes.

                Your ancestors may have done these things, but doing those things also allowed them to develop callouses on their feet etc to condition them to the environment. These days, we've been protected by padded styles of clothing such as shoes for a very long time now, hundreds upon hundreds of years. Our ancestors may have been hunter gatheres, but we surely are not.

                Last edited 30/05/13 4:45 pm

                  If you doubt r3v4n's argument, read 'Born To Run' by Christopher McDougall. It's a great introduction to the concept of barefoot running and clearly explains why minimalist footwear is better for the feet and body. A few hundred years of "supportive" footwear does not undo the tens of thousands of years that humans have walked and run barefoot or in minimalist footwear.

    I feel my job where I dont sit at all balances it all out.

    No good for those of us with bad ankles. A previous job had me standing up all day in the usual work hours and by the end of the week I couldn't walk at all.

    If it were a table that required you to stand, it'd be my ideal work space.

    When I built my standing desk I took the legs off of an old desk I had and bolted them on halfway down the legs of another desk I had to make it taller.

    WARNING for anyone thinking of doing this... Go to IKEA and test the sturdiness of the VIKA system before you buy in. I went to one to check out the VIKA tables and they aren't very sturdy. tbh they're wobbly as f*** haha

    So yea, great in theory, but possible let down by dodgy materials.

      Thanks for the warning! I just had a look in that IKEA product category - how are the FINNVARD Trestle legs? They're a bit more expensive, but they also go a bit higher and look much more sturdy. It looks like you could also readjust them if you really need to be sitting for a while (as long as your tabletop is big enough to fit your monitor, anyway.

      http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/70167633/#/70167633

    Lifehacker does enough of these articles every month thanks >_>
    Meh, guess this is the first time it's been on Kotaku, and it's not as straight up biased as Lifehackers 'People who sit are evil, standing is the only way to be healthy!' Thanks for at least mentioning it's not for everyone Luke.
    Just remember standing desks aren't inherently better, I feel like a broken record for how much I say this online, but moderation is always key, standing for hours and hours and hours every day can lead to equally bad health conditions. My mother (hairdresser) has had a rather horrible time of it due to her years of standing. In either case the best thing you can really do if you're trying to be health conscious is take regular breaks where you walk around for a bit. (Hint: Walking is a lot better for you than standing).

    thats a tiny desk i would just like to say

    Come on peeps!

    Its an article about what you could do if you wanted to. I like the idea of standing up, like the writer, I sit down all day at work.

    The set up is a suggestion, you don't have to follow it verbatim. Don't be a sheep, use your creativity and come up with a solution that suits you. Rather than moan about someone's decent idea. The writer suggested some items to get you started, that is all.

    What's with all the whinging all the time? I guess its easier to whinge than actually do something. And yes, i guess i am whinging right now.

    Great article, Luke, i feel a little inspired.

    Ed.

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