How Long Should You Stand At A Standing Desk?

Don't overdo it.


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Last updated: April 22nd, 2024

how long should you stand at a standing desk

Last updated: April 22nd, 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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.

You’ve either shelled out your hard-earned money to buy one of the best standing desks in Australia, or you’ve convinced your boss to pay for one.

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 In Australia).

1. Ease Into Standing.

how long to stand at standing desk

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.

Expert Tip.

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.

The mat encourages you to make regular small foot movements, thus increasing blood circulation.

It enabled me to stand for at least 4-6 hours per day without discomfort. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Expert Tip.

Tight on space? Consider buying a small standing desk that you can tuck into the smallest of home offices.

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).

Expert Tip.

Catch feelings of discomfort in your back early. Look into office chairs that help relieve it.

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.

This pattern creates an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle, where people spend 80% of their lives sitting or lying down.

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.

(Unless you have existing sports injuries that standing can aggravate).

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?

risks of standing at work

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.

Causes foot painImproves circulation
Makes your back feel stiffKeeps your joints moving
Aggravates pre-existing conditionsFacilitates deep breathing
Makes you feel tired.Increases energy levels
Makes your legs feel soreReduces brain fog
Aggravates your spider veinsReduces atrophy of leg muscles
Increases the need to stretchLengthens 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.


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