Should you use a standing desk all day?

Office workers around the globe spend as much as 8 hours a day sitting in their office chairs. That's not including the time spent sitting in the car for the commute to and from work which can add even more sedentary hours to the day, especially if there's traffic. 

It doesn't end there. You'll most likely want to unwind after a long day at the office. So you grab your dinner, lay back, and watch your favorite show before heading off to bed. And the cycle continues. 

These sedentary habits aren't out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, many people spend most of their waking hours without any significant movement. According to experts, sedentary behavior is "the new smoking" because they agree that the adverse side effects are similar. 

You've probably seen at least one colleague of yours working in front of an odd-looking tall desk. Well, welcome to the world of standing desks! 

Standing desks have become an innovative solution to reduce the number of hours spent sitting in front of the computer screen. They allow you to incorporate light activity during your usual work routine. 

white minimalist office setup

Besides breaking the monotony of sitting all day, standing more often comes with both physical and cognitive benefits that we'll cover that make a standing desk a worthy investment. 

How Many Hours Should You Be Standing in a Day?

So, you've purchased your first stand up desk, and you are ready to incorporate more standing time during your workday. Now the questions on how to use it arise. 

Should you be standing every hour or all day? How much should you be standing to enough to reap the health benefits? And is it possible to stand too much? 

Let's dive in and discuss the appropriate amount of hours you should be standing to offset the risks of prolonged sitting while avoiding the dangers of standing for too long. 

Is Standing for 8 Hours Bad?

A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and heart disease. All of which are associated with smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, and other bad habits. But is standing all day the answer? The short answer isno. 

While standing more often can be a relatively simple way to offset some of the risks associated with sedentary behaviour, specialists say that it is possible to stand too much. 

Most experts agree that standing for more than 5-6 hours in an 8-hour shift can negatively affect the body. Prolonged standing can cause lower back pain and swelling of the feet in some people. Others have reported varicose veins, cramped leg and foot muscles, and fatigue after long hours of standing. None of which are pleasant. 

As a rule of thumb, the body doesn't like to stay in any position for too long, and the same goes for standing. 

Try breaking up some of your standing time with light stretches and a few squats or steps in place. 

Other ways to include more movement in your day include using the elevator and taking the stairs whenever you get a chance. Walk to the copy room to make copies and walk to the front desk instead of calling. 

You could also try to suggest walking meetings in your office. They are a great way to get a bit of fresh air and get your blood circulating in the middle of the workday. 

How Often Should You Stand Up?

Specialists have found that it's best to alternate between sitting and standing to reap all the benefits of standing but none of the risks associated with being upright for too long. 

The optimal ratio most people should aim for is a sitting standing ratio of 1:1 or alternating between one hour of sitting and one hour of standing throughout the day. So, ultimately you'll be sitting for four hours and standing for four hours during your shift. 

More than six hours of standing can put you at risk of adverse symptoms like lower back pain, varicose veins, and other discomforts we've mentioned. 

While people have become more aware of the dangers of sitting for extended hours, it's best to transition into standing so often slowly. 

It would be best to gradually work your way up to a 50/50 sitting and standing day. Depending on your fitness and health status, you may want to start with a 2:1 sitting standing ratio, where you are standing for thirty minutes every hour. 

Still, it's essential to listen to your body, so if you can only stand for five to ten minutes at a time, start there and work your way up. You will get there eventually. 

To get the most out of sit-stand workstations, utilize your standing hours for phone calls and other tasks you feel comfortable doing while standing up. Save functions like writing or drawing for your sitting hours. See our extended advice on how to use a standing desk correctly here.

What Are the Benefits of Standing?

Standing utilizes more large muscle groups and therefore requires more energy than sittingresulting in more calories burned! So you could multitask and burn extra calories while doing your daily tasks. On average, you burn approximately 88 calories per hour of standing. It may not seem like much, but every bit adds up, especially for people who spend most of their time in the office.

Standing desks aren't just for office or desk job workers. People who work from home are equally prone to sedentary behaviour, if not more. Home office workers can find great benefit in adding a standing desk to their home work station.  

People who use standing desks tend to break overall sedentary behaviour, with other benefits. Standing is associated with a lower risk of obesity-related diseases like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and more. So, a standing desk could be a simple way to achieve better health. And improving your health is one of the best investments there are. 

People who work at standing desks have reported becoming more active in general—taking more steps around the office and making more movements. 

Companies and employers sometimes worry that implementing a standing desk may cause their employees to be easily distracted from their work tasks. When, in fact, the opposite is true. 

Employees who work at standing desks show increased alertness and productivity compared to those who sit for the duration of their workday. Standing at work has also been associated with creative problem-solving. So, as you see, it's a win-win for both the company and the workers. 

Standing more also may help alleviate lower back pain associated with prolonged sitting by decreasing the pressure on your vertebrae. That's also a plus because workers will need fewer sick days. Need more reasons standing desks are awesome? See our 8 benefits of standing desks!

Is Standing Too Much Unhealthy?

Factory workers, doctors, nurses, and other professionals who spend most of their day on their feet report more cases of lower back pain, varicose veins, and foot swelling. That is why it's crucial to take sitting breaks after prolonged standing. Seems like you can get too much of a good thing. 

Is It Bad To Use a Standing Desk All Day?

Is it okay to use a standing desk all day? Suppose you're using your standing desk correctly, with the proper setting, good posture, and alternating between sitting and standing at no more than a 1:1 ratio. In that case, you'll be able to use your standing desk intermittently throughout your whole work shift. 

On the other hand, if you try to push your limits and try standing for 6 hours or more, then you are probably doing yourself more harm than good. This is of course dependent on the individual as there are those who are more accustomed than others to standing for long periods of time. 

A better strategy to make the transition to standing easier is to gradually increase the number of minutes you're standing. There are simple accessories you can buy if you want to add additional comfort measures to your new sit-standing workstation. For example, you can invest in an anti-fatigue mat or a standing desk mat. 

Anti-fatigue mats add extra cushioning beneath your feet and encourage slight movement, promoting healthy circulation. This can decrease the chance of lower back pain and leg cramps. 

anti fatigue mat

It’s important to also stay hydrated, and standing requires a bit more energy than sitting, so your body could use the extra fluids, and this can prevent you from feeling dizzy. 

Remember, remaining in a standing position for more than 5-6 hours can have health risks. If you happen to be someone who finds yourself on your feet most of the day, take sitting breaks when possible, even if it's just for 5 minutes. 

People with specific health problems and pregnant women should be cautious and sit whenever they feel the need to do so. And remember, it’s important to stay hydrated. 

How to Use Your Standing Desk Correctly

Yes, a standing desk can be a great way to improve your posture, burn some extra calories, and be more alert at work, but what if you’re not maximizing its full potential? 

Suppose you're not using your standing desk correctly. In that case, this can negatively affect your posture, causing you lower back pain, and you won't reap all of the potential benefits. 

Make sure that you're using your standing desk correctly. The point of the standing desk is to improve your posture, but without the correct setup, you could be harming yourself instead. 

Many standing desks are available on the market, so you must do your research and get the best one for you. You'll want to purchase an adjustable standing desk, that way; you can customize it to your height and form. Make sure your sit-stand desk is light and user-friendly. If it’s rigid and bulky it’ll be more of a hassle to use which will increase the likelihood of you abandoning the concept altogether. 

While setting your sit-stand desk, stand up properly and maintain a straight head and neck, and set your standing desk so that your computer screen is at your eyes level. You don't want to have to look down at your monitor, as this can lead to poor posture. 

You should also tilt your display towards you at a 10-20 degree angle, but make sure it's not too close to your face. Using adjustable monitor arms is recommended.

Mounting your screen on a monitor arm will make these adjustments simple. 

monitor mounted on a standing desk

When typing on your computer, you want your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle, where your forearms are parallel to the floor. And your wrists should lay comfortably on the keyboard. 

If you experience some tension in your wrists, try accessories that provide your keyboard with a negative tilt. The angle may help alleviate wrist pain. 

As mentioned before, an anti-fatigue mat like the Desky Anti-Fatigue Rectangle Standing Mat can make standing more comfortable. The extra cushioning can alleviate lower back pain.

You also want to maintain good posture during your sitting hours. Invest in an ergonomic chair that will support your head and neck and keep you in an upright fashion while you relax. 

Adjust your chair while applying the principles described previously- monitor at eye level, elbows at a 90-degree angle, comfortable wrists, etc.

Whether you are working in an office or from home, customize your working space to make it as functional and comfortable as possible. Down to small details, like easy access to your computer mouse, file cabinet, and even your mug. You don't want to put yourself in awkward positions every time you want a sip of coffee which can break your workflow. If you need more tips, take a look at our article on the best home office setup.

If you're using a laptop, it will require more accessories and adjustments, such as a wireless mouse and keyboard. 

It's important to remember that while standing burns more calories than sitting, it does not replace physical activity, but it's better than nothing. 

As we've already learned, it's best to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the workday to avoid the potential health risk that comes with overdoing either one. It's recommended not to stand more than four hours during an eight-hour work shift. You can set a goal to stand every thirty to sixty minutes for every sitting hour. Looking for your dream standing desk? Take a look at Desky's range of office desks today!

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