When is Standing Too Much?


The new craze in standing at your desk has many asking if standing is for them, and how long should they stand for? Does everyone need a standing desk?

Companies adopting the standing want to create an active workspace which is more collaborative and productive. This type of work environment is very attractive to a new generation who actively hedge against the burdens of disease later on in life.

To clarify, there is a difference between voluntary standing at your desk culture and occupational standing jobs. The former is clearly voluntary, and the employee can sit down when stressed. The latter makes it mandatory to stand at your desk for the duration of your work.

A study by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that workers who stand for long periods of time were at a higher risk of heart disease compared to their seated counterparts. This means that even standing should be done in moderation at work.

For you to benefit from the standing at your desk culture, avoid common mistakes like pushing yourself to stand for long. You don’t have to stand all day to stay healthy. Start with 15 to 20 minutes a day and build up to two hours a day then four hours. They are called sit/stand desks for a reason, because you can adjust them to accommodate you when you are seated or standing.

To make it more bearable, you can play some music or interact more with your colleagues.

Also, make sure the desk is the right height. Too short and you’ll ruin your posture and too high you will feel it in your neck and arms. The correct position for your elbow should not be more than 90 degrees and your eye line directly opposite your computer screen or just below.

On top of that, you want to pay attention to your posture to eliminate the chances of lower back pain. The right posture creates an S-curve to your spine. Using a standing mat gives you more comfort on the balls of your feet and reduces fatigue to the legs.

Experts recommend standing for 30 minutes per hour in order to get the type of health benefits you are looking for. This approach gives you half an hour of rest and half an hour standing to strike the best balance.

Some people believe that you don’t need a sit/stand desk to stand regularly. They believe that water and coffee breaks, bathroom breaks, and moving from one department to another to interact with a colleague provide plenty of standing opportunities to promote good health.

However, with the presence of phones and emails, we rarely have to get off our chairs at work to go and ask a colleague a question in person. Besides, how many bathroom breaks do you take? According to the Society for Human Resources Management, you can use the standing desk to promote an active workforce without relying on snacks and bathroom breaks to fill the gaps.

Recently a study came out from The British Journal of Sports Medicine with the title of “Associations of occupational standing with musculoskeletal symptoms: a systematic review with meta-analysis.”

The key takeaways from this study and our experience are as follows:

  • You don’t NEED to have a stand-up option; you just need to move regularly.

  • Standing too much can cause low back pain and leg pain.

  • Body is designed to sit and stand throughout the day. There are many ways to get your standing throughout the day without the need for a sit-to-stand option.

  • Sit-to-stand options can be useful and make the ability to stand more readily available. If you do have this option, here is what you need to look out to ensure proper utilization.

  • Start out with 15-20 mins of standing within the hour and gradually build to 4-6 hours per day after 30 days.

  • Start off slowly- taking breaks.

  • Listen to your body.

  • Flat surface = flat shoes (no heels!)

  • Weight distribution right below hips and arms at a right angle looking straight ahead and slightly down.

  • Don’t do continuous 8 hours of standing.

There are plenty of health benefits associated with standing like improved blood circulation and improved blood pressure that have contributed to the standing at work initiatives being adopted by many companies worldwide.

Sitting for long hours can result in health issues because of decreased respiratory function and weight gain. Sit-stand desks are offering a solution so employees can get the best of both worlds.

Obesity is a leading health problem, and sedentary jobs contribute to the problem. One of the ways that companies are helping their employees stay healthy is by offering sit-stand desks to promote more standing as their staff work.

Standing at your desk is a culture that takes some getting used to but overall, it’s adaptable with tremendous benefits. Some wellness experts claim that standing at work increases concentration resulting in more productive employees. Also, more workers are attracted to healthy offices, so they are likely to want to work for a company with the stand at your desk culture.

Keep healthy!