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How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?

How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?

How long should you stand at a standing desk? The answer may surprise you. Getting a good ratio of sitting to standing time is paramount to getting the most out of your standing desk. And today, that's exactly what we're going to help you figure out.

When I'm performing an ergonomic assessment or providing some ergonomic advice to a client, I often get asked "how long should I stand at my standing desk?". Another common question is from employers enquiring how to ensure that their employees safely progress to their standing desks.

There is no question that there are many benefits of stand up desks to be had. But, can too much of a good thing be detrimental? In some cases, standing too long can have negative effects - which is the last thing you want after investing in standing desks. By the end of this article, though, you'll have a better understanding of how long you should stand at your standing desk.

Let's get right into the topic at hand - how long should you stand at a standing desk?

How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?

Standing desks are good for you - but only if you know how to stand at a standing desk correctly!

It is important to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation to this question. After all, you don't want to try and stand too long and end up compromising on workplace efficiency - just for the sake of meeting some sort of "standing time recommendation".

You will need to take into consideration any pre-existing musculoskeletal problems that you have. Also, whilst it may seem like basic advice, make sure you listen to your body. If your body is telling you that you've sat or stood for too long, then listen to it and switch positions. If you're ever in doubt or experience any discomfort or pain, please feel free to consult with us at The Ergonomic Physio, as ergonomics and workplace injury prevention is what we do.

We'll provide you with some key principles to consider when trying to determine how long you should stand at your standing desk daily. First - there is no need to spend the entire day standing just because you've invested in a stand up desk!

There is no need to stand all day

​There is no need to try and stand all day when you get a standing desk. In fact, we recommend against this. Instead, use your standing desk to break up the monotony of sitting by periodically standing throughout the day.

Sitting is probably the easiest activity that we can do. And yet, it is wreaking havoc with our health. However, it isn't the activity of sitting per se that is the problem. The problem is the excessive time that we spend sitting. Periodically switching from sitting to standing is sufficient to halt the accumulation of stresses associated with prolonged sitting.

Learn your sitting and standing "thresholds"

You should avoid sitting or standing to your "threshold". Your threshold is the length of time that you can sit or stand comfortably before you feel that you need to change position. "Need" is the operative word here, and means that you have developed a sensation of fatigue or discomfort, which is prompting you to change position. For example, say that you can comfortably stand for 30 minutes, but by 35 minutes you feel that you now need to sit down (for whatever reason). Your threshold for standing would be 35 minutes.

Once you know your threshold, never allow yourself to sit or stand for this length of time. Our recommendation is to cut your threshold by 25% and only ever sit or stand for 75% of your threshold time.

Using the same example as above (i.e. a standing threshold of 35 minutes), this would equal about 26 minutes of standing before switching back to sitting (75% of 35 minutes). This might seem complex but we promise you that it's easy to implement and it is a very effective way to ensure you regularly switch positions.

Take the Time to Adjust to Standing Throughout the Day - No Need to Rush!

There is no need to rush your transition. If you've been sitting at a desk for many years, it's likely that your postural muscles have lost a bit of conditioning. These are the muscles that are responsible for keeping you upright. This is normal - as the saying goes, if you don't use it, you lose it. It will take a little while for these muscles to kick into gear again and you cannot rush this process.

The good news is that by adding a standing desk into your life now, you are proactively preventing muscular deconditioning from occurring as you get older. Moreover, the calories burned at standing desks can exceed 134 calories every hour! With that said, you’re probably ready to discover the answer to the question you came here with…how long should you stand at a standing desk to unlock the full benefit they have to offer? We’ll offer specific recommendations down below…

So - How Long Should I Stand at My Standing Desk? An Easy, Feasible Progression Schedule:

We know you came here looking for a definitive answer to the question - how long should I stand at my standing desk daily? And while it's true that there is no one size fits all answer to this question, here's a simple 6-week progression you can follow. Do keep in mind that if you have any pre-existing conditions or experience pain or discomfort at any time, you should seek professional advice.

  • Week 1 - stand for 5 minutes every 30 minutes
  • Week 2 - stand for 5 minutes every 25 minutes
  • Week 3 - stand for 5 minutes every 20 minutes
  • Week 4 - stand for 10 minutes every 30 minutes
  • Week 5 - stand for 10 minutes every 20 minutes
  • Week 6 - stand for 15 minutes every 30 minutes

After this, just focus on avoiding prolonged positions by switching between sitting and standing regularly throughout the day. There isn't really any need to stand for more than 50% of your working day. However, this doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't do it if it works for your body. Over time, you'll gain a better understanding of how long you should stand at your standing desk to get the most out of it.

"If you're unsure how much you should be standing, remember this - some standing is better than none, and less sitting is better than more”

- Jordan Lees, Founder of The Ergonomic Physio & UpDown Desk

How Long Should I Stand at My Standing Desk? Wrapping Things Up

We hope this resource has provided you with clarity on the question you came here with - how long should I stand at my standing desk? Using an ergonomic standing desk correctly is essential to get the most out of your investment. Too much sitting creates health risks and problems you want to avoid - but, the same can be said of spending too much time standing on your feet.

Over the eight hours or so you spend at your sit stand desk, you should shoot for a ratio of 1:1 for sitting to standing. However, your leg muscles and core muscles may not be able to handle this at first - so don't rush into things. Do what works best for your body. Alternate standing and sitting when your body tells you it's time. You don't want to compromise workplace efficiency just for the sake of standing more.

If you want more help getting the most out of sit stand desks, consider investing in an anti-fatigue mat - this will make the transition far easier. You can also learn more about setting up an ergonomic workstation in our blog. Our quick start guide to setting up a standing desk with the proper heights is a great resource, too.

And, if you've decided to invest in your health and productivity with a new standing desk in Australia, look no further than UpDownDesk: the #1 choice for ergonomic office desksstanding computer desks, and sit stand gaming desks. We even have sit stand corner desks if you want to maximize your office space. Head over to our site and see all we have to offer!

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