Research by BeUpstanding, an Australian research initiative, clearly shows that Australian employees need to sit less and move more. According to their study, 75% of a typical workday is spent sitting, which leads to lifestyle risks I’ll reveal shortly. But is the reverse also true? Can you stand at a standing desk for too long?
Let’s assume you’re fully on board with the benefits of standing at work.
What is the optimal balance of sitting and standing at work? Is standing for more than 6 hours per day dangerous? Let’s find out.
(Related: Best Under-Desk Treadmills For 2023).
1. Ease Into Standing.
Don’t be intimidated by a standing desk. Start by creating standing/sitting intervals.
If you are new to using a standing desk, start slow. Ease into standing with intervals that look like this:
- 20 minutes standing.
- 60 minutes sitting.
Increase the amount of time you spend standing over the course of 1 month, so your standing interval matches your sitting interval:
- 60 minutes standing.
- 60 minutes sitting.
By day 30, aim to be standing for 1 hour, sitting for 1 hour, then repeating.
Most people forget to change positions. Buy a simple countdown timer on Amazon to help you remember. Some desks, like NorthDay Everdesk, have programmable controllers that remind you to sit or stand, or move the desk for you.
2. Buy An Anti-Fatigue Mat.
The anti-fatigue mat lives under your desk when you’re not using it.
I used to get sore feet from standing at my desk for longer than 30 minutes. Reluctantly, I purchased a standing anti-fatigue mat from UpDown Desk – and it was a game-changer.
It enabled me to stand for at least 4-6 hours per day without discomfort. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
3. Don’t Slouch.
If you use a laptop, use a monitor riser and external keyboard to keep the screen at eye level and prevent slouching.
Your spine should be straight, with your eyes roughly aligned with the top of your monitor.
If you find yourself leaning forward and slouching, elevate your monitor to your eye level (a monitor riser or an adjustable monitor arm can help).
What’s Wrong With Sitting All Day?
Most Australians are “knowledge workers”, which means they spend 6-10 hours per day working on a computer. When they come home from work, they typically unwind by watching TV or Netflix.
They also commute by sitting in their car (or on public transport) for an hour.
Then they go to bed.
How Many Hours Should You Stand a Day?
This depends on how active you are outside of work.
If you’re a triathlete and a powerlifter with a rich history of running marathons and squatting 200 kg RM1s, your body will probably not get upset if you start standing all day.
But if you’re a senior person who walks to the shops twice a week for 30 minutes, you’ll need to be a lot more gentle with yourself.
Can You Stand At A Standing Desk For Too Long?
Probably. For example, this study found that mental alertness decreases after two hours of standing. I don’t find this to be the case, but everyone is different.
Listen to your body and create a standing/sitting interval that works best for you.
What Are The Risks And Benefits Of Standing?
There’s also no firm scientific evidence to suggest that you will experience problems from standing at a standing desk, but common sense suggests that you should not stand for 10+ hours every day.
|RISKS OF STANDING||BENEFITS OF STANDING|
|Causes foot pain||Improves circulation|
|Makes your back feel stiff||Keeps your joints moving|
|Aggravates pre-existing conditions||Facilitates deep breathing|
|Makes you feel tired.||Increases energy levels|
|Makes your legs feel sore||Reduces brain fog|
|Aggravates your spider veins||Reduces atrophy of leg muscles|
|Increases the need to stretch||Lengthens hip flexor muscles|
How long should you stand at work? The best answer is – “as long as you comfortably can”. Comfort and common sense are key when deciding how long to stand.
The more rapidly you ramp up your standing hours, the likelier you are to develop uncomfortable side effects.