A standing desk is the best way to promote better health during long work weeks; however, knowing the best way to use one is essential. Whether you work in a corporate environment or from home, an adjustable desk is the best option to allow you to sit and stand throughout the day, optimising productivity and comfort.
Not convinced? Researchers have linked extended periods of sitting with poor health outcomes, including:
- Increased blood pressure.
- High blood sugar.
- Excess body fat and dangerous visceral fat.
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Whilst a standing desk can mitigate these, without the proper support and ergonomics, it has the potential to cause aches and pains.
You’ll be relieved to know it all comes down to the height of your desk. Read on to find out how to determine the correct standing desk height, how often you should stand, plus other tips to get the most out of your work environment.
Ensure Ideal Standing Desk Height In 3 Easy Steps.
All bodies are unique and require different working environments to thrive.
You should begin by measuring your height to determine the proper height of your standing desk:
- Stand up straight with your head parallel to the ceiling and your shoulders pulled back
- Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, keeping your arms at your side.
- Measure from the floor to your elbows (or have a friend/colleague assist you). This measurement should match the height of your standing desk.
If you stand and sit throughout the day, note the height of your standing option or pre-programme this into the desk (many options show the desk’s height in centimetres on display).
How Often Should I Stand?
Experts agree that the best way to support your health at work is to combine sitting and standing at regular intervals throughout the day. Every hour, we recommend the following:
- 20 minutes standing.
- 35 minutes sitting.
- 5 minutes of walking/stretching.
Standing is an excellent option to boost energy throughout the day (say goodbye to those pesky afternoon coffees). 9 out of 10 Take A Stand study participants reported more energy when using their standing desks!
The other benefits of standing desks are irrefutable, including:
- Increased blood flow: Sitting can result in poor circulation and varicose veins. Standing for periods promotes blood flow to the heart and brain.
- Strengthened muscles: Proper posture can strengthen muscles such as the quads, glutes, and core.
- Back pain alleviated: The spine’s flexion is less supported when sitting, placing additional stress on the lumbar region (lower back). Standing alleviates this.
- Heightened focus: This study confirmed that the thickness of your temporal lobe (responsible for forming memories) directly correlates to how often you stand!
- Additional calories burnt: Standing can burn up to 2,000 extra calories every week, potentially putting you in a calorie deficit if weight loss is a goal.
Like anything, it’s best in moderation. Standing all day can contribute to additional stress on the body, so be sure to mix things up.
(Related: Best Corner Desks For Your Home Office).
5 Factors That Affect Your Standing Desk Height.
Asking, “how high should my standing desk be?” may be the first question when you set up your workspace. Whilst you may find relief from simply adjusting to the correct height, other vital factors are at play.
Your workstation should support your working style, regardless of where you work. Consider the below changes to optimise your output and well-being.
1. Your Shoes.
Two critical questions to ask are:
- What type of shoe do you choose to wear whilst working? This can have a significant impact on your comfort and posture whilst standing.
- What is the surface of the floor you stand on? Tiles and concrete significantly impact joints more than carpets or floorboards.
Many also prefer to work barefoot. The purpose of a shoe is to offer stability and support, so keep in mind that without this, the stabilising muscles in the feet and legs must overcompensate (what to do if your feet hurt?).
However, working barefoot can enhance posture and balance plus improve muscle tone. But be mindful of the length of time you do this for.
If you wear heels or boots in the office, measure your desk whilst wearing them to ensure your desk height reflects your correct height while standing.
2. Your Posture.
If you use a standing desk to support your back pain, posture is imperative. An awareness of your body throughout the day (whether sitting or standing) can make all the difference in preventing chronic pain plus retaining mobility.
When standing, run through this checklist regularly:
- Straight back: Be sure not to slouch.
- Head up: See our notes on monitor angles below to prevent ‘tech-neck.’
- Shoulders relaxed: With the correct desk height, your elbows should be supported on the desk, reducing the need to lean or slouch.
- Core engaged: Prevent excessive lumbar curve by locking in your abdominal muscles.
- Weight balanced: To prevent additional stress on one hip or leg, be sure your weight is distributed evenly through both feet, flat on the floor.
You should also incorporate standing desk exercises daily to retain mobility and strength.
3. Monitor Height And Angle.
Having your monitor at an incorrect angle can cause headaches and shoulder or neck pain. A good monitor arm costs about $150 and will allow you to place your monitor in an optimal position. It will:
- Be high enough to focus on the upper third of the screen.
- Allow you to see over the monitor.
- Be slanted back at a 10-20 degree angle.
- Position your monitor approximately 50 centimetres away from your head. Any closer or further away can cause eye strain.
If you work from home and cannot access an adjustable monitor arm, consider stacking slim books on top of one another to make fine adjustments to monitor height.
4. Standing Mats.
Standing all day on a hard surface like tiles or concrete can lead to pain, aches, and terrible posture. Consider a comfort mat to support you whilst standing. Options are:
- Traditional/anti-fatigue: These office standing mats are for people wearing shoes and provide additional cushioning. Research shows that standing desk mats can reduce fatigue by up to 50%!
- Ergonomic: These options are thicker to support no shoes or minimalist footwear.
- Acupressure: If you want to increase blood flow and massage your feet whilst working, look no further!
5. Keyboard Angle.
Placing your keyboard at the correct angle will help prevent wrist aches or chronic conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury.
- Ensure your keyboard is directly in front of your monitor.
- Place the keyboard at arm’s distance from your body.
- Tilt your keyboard back 10 degrees to keep your wrists in line.
- Choose a gel mouse pad to support your wrist.
- You won’t remain standing 100% of the time. Adjust your office chair height when you sit down, to ensure your wrists remain straight.
Frequently Asked Questions.
Choosing a standing desk can be overwhelming, with so many great options on the market. Before you dive in, we are happy to answer some common questions.
Will A Standing Desk Improve Posture?
Using a standing desk with the proper ergonomics can improve posture. However, setting one at the wrong height could worsen posture and pain.
Taking a holistic view of your health and well-being in the workplace is essential; sitting and standing are only one element of the equation. Read more tips here.
What Are The Cons Of A Standing Desk?
Standing desks have many pros, but there are a few cons to consider.
- Pain: Standing all day can place additional pressure on your knees, hips and feet.
- Fitness: Standing doesn’t replace exercise. You will need to find other ways to incorporate movement into your day. We suggest walking on a lunch break.
- Practicality: Standing desks are a great way to break up your day but aren’t suitable for all tasks. Consider admin-heavy work whilst sitting and calls/meetings whilst standing.
Doing any form of work without a break can lead to pain and discomfort, but don’t let the above recommendations deter you. Incorporating proper standing desk ergonomics will allow you to stand throughout the day and feel your best.
So, What’s The Ideal Standing Desk Height?
If you’re using a height-adjustable standing desk, you’ve taken a significant step towards better health and well-being. Ensuring your desk height and other factors are correct is crucial to avoid any issues.
All bodies are unique, so your standing desk height will be specific to you. Undertake a quick measurement of your size and avoid using a standing desk height chart for the most accurate information.
Optimising your workspace, whether in the office or at home, can change your working life. Who would say no to improved health and well-being, heightened focus, increased productivity, and a pain-free work day? Not us.