How Long Should You Stand At A Standing Desk?

How long should you stand at a standing desk will weigh heavily on your personal preferences and working environment. We all know that standing desks are worth it for your health and switching between sitting and standing is beneficial. However, there are minimum and maximum guidelines that we will highlight in this article.

Key Takeaways:

  • As a general rule, aim to stand for half of the working day, or at a ratio of 1:2.
  • Personal comfort and your level of fitness and body strength are the two biggest factors in determining how long you can be standing at a sit-stand desk. Using a standing desk correctly including ensuring it is an ergonomic standing desk setup is important.
  • If you are new to standing desks then introducing short and regular 5-minute periods of standing will help with the transitioning phase.
  • Anti-fatigue mats and a good pair of comfortable shoes will help you stand for longer.

How Long Should I Stand At A Standing Desk?

Working at an adjustable-height desk doesn’t need you to stand for a specific number of hours and there certainly is no medical requirement to adhere to. Instead, the intention should be to promote and encourage mobility and better posture by alternating between sitting and standing. But as a general rule, standing for anywhere from 2 to 4 hours each day will be effective, depending on your personal preferences. It’s also not necessary to have a fixed standing schedule during the workweek and variations are common and even necessary.

Which Is Better: Sitting Or Standing?

Your personal health, the particular activity you’re performing, and your goals will all influence whether sitting or standing is better for you. Finding a balance that meets your demands and improves general well-being is crucial because both sitting and standing have advantages and disadvantages. You should aim to regularly switch positions to yield the best mental and health benefits.

Too much sitting will contribute to a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to posture issues, whilst too much standing will prove to be uncomfortable. Using a standing desk correctly should involve regular alternate sitting and standing periods with ample movement in between. The more movement there is, the better it will be for you. This can include stretching, going to make a coffee, or doing another activity.

Factors That Affect Your Standing Duration

Aiming to be in a standing position for several hours a day doesn’t come easily, especially if you have just purchased your sit-stand desk. From my own experience, there are several factors that influence how long you can stand and it’s important to be aware of them.

  • Personal comfort – This is a crucial consideration and probably the thing that is thought of the most. While some people find it easier to stand for long amounts of time naturally, others could feel discomfort or exhaustion more quickly. Be mindful of how your body is feeling and sit when you want to.
  • Fitness and endurance – Both your degree of physical fitness and endurance are important. It might be simpler for those who are physically fit and have strong endurance to stand for longer periods. But if you’re not as fit as you would like to be then you might find yourself easing into regular standing – which is perfectly fine.
  • Your desk setup – If you’re standing desk is not ergonomically set up correctly so that you can work at the ideal height, then you will feel uncomfortable and stand less. Make sure your monitor, workstation, and other accessories are set to the ideal height for your body. You can also use this desk height calculator to get the correct standing or sitting height for your electric sit-stand desk.
  • Footwear choice – Your choice of footwear at a standing can affect how long you stand. You can stand for periods of time by using anti-fatigue mats or supportive, comfortable shoes to assist in preventing foot and leg fatigue.
  • Health ailments that you may have – Your ability to stand for long periods may be impacted by pre-existing health ailments like back discomfort, leg pain, or circulation problems. To get advice on how to manage these illnesses, speak with a healthcare practitioner.
  • The transition period – Your body may require some time to adjust if you’re new to using a standing desk. Starting with shorter standing times and building them up gradually is a good way of easing into the process. Adding brief breaks for movement to your routine such as stretching, moving around, or doing brief exercises can help you stand for longer periods.
  • The surrounding environment – How comfortable your workstation and surrounding environment is can affect how long you can stand. Your standing endurance may be affected by variables including illumination, temperature, and the availability of supportive gear.
  • Mental focus – The length of time you spend standing may be influenced by your capacity for concentration and mental focus although these shouldn’t be a focus if you are just starting out. While some people like myself find that standing helps them concentrate better, others might find that they need to order to work intently.
  • Hydration and nutrition – Similar to being healthy and fit, having a healthy diet and being hydrated can have an impact on your energy levels and general comfort, which may have an impact on how long you can stand without getting tired.
  • Age – How long you can stand comfortably depends on your age. Due to decreased muscle strength and joint flexibility, older people may find it more difficult to stand for long periods, however, body ailments will also play their part.
standing desk office environment
Standing becomes easier in a collaborative working environment (image by Pixabay).

Determining The Ideal Standing Time

Depending on your physiology, the type of work you do, and the surrounding environment, the recommended standing duration at a standing desk can change. However, here are some guidelines to consider particularly when transitioning to a standing desk for the first time.

  • Minimum suggested standing time: 5 to 20 minutes per hour.
  • Reasonable standing time: 50% of your workday (~4 hours).
  • Maximum suggested standing time: No more than 80% of your workday (~6 hours).
  • Ideal standing duration: 45 minutes at a time.
  • Ideal sitting duration: Half an hour at a time.
  • Movement frequency: Alternate position, stretch, and/or walk every 30 to 45 minutes.

To maximise the mental and health benefits, experts advise positioning changes frequently. According to one study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it is best to walk around, stand up, and take breaks from sitting for at least two hours during an eight-hour workday.

According to a different study from the University of Waterloo, the ideal standing-to-sitting time ratio was suggested to be between 1:1 and 3:1. This means that for every hour you spend sitting, you should try to stand for at least an hour and ideally up to three hours.

Whilst the above will provide you with some guidance, it is important to tailor a program so that it meets your needs.

Tips To Improve Standing Longevity At A Standing Desk

Ensure your desk is at the right height

Make sure your standing desk is ergonomically configured. Your keyboard and mouse should be at a height that enables your arms to be parallel to the desktop and floor, and your monitor screen should be at eye level. Your wrist position whilst standing should rest naturally on the desktop and not tilted upwards where discomfort may arise.

Just get started

Even if you stand for 5 minutes for every hour working, it’s better than all that time spent sitting at a new standing desk. Whilst you may not think 5 minutes amounts to much, it’s the positive behavioural change that is the most important facet. Bigger steps only arise from smaller steps.

Gradually build standing time

Once you are in a routine or are following a schedule that you have created, slowly increasing the time standing up becomes much easier. A decent starting point is every two or three hours, and you can progressively raise this over several weeks. To attain a ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 standing hours, the ultimate goal is to spend 3 to 4 hours every day standing up straight at your workstation.

Don’t leave it to your memory

It can be simple to forget to switch from sitting to standing during the day due to our busy schedules and current duties. To be reminded to sit or stand simply set a timer on your computer or mobile phone. This will eventually turn into a habitual habit that will enhance your quality of life while working.

Some expensive standing desks come with timers and alarms that you can program to remind you to get up and move around.

Get comfortable using an anti-fatigue mat

It might be an extra cost after purchasing a new standing desk, but a standing desk mat is well worth the money investment. They are often an easy oversight following a good pair of shoes, however, but they help to relieve stress on your legs and improve blood flow. Anti-fatigue mats also encourage better posture and circulation while standing for long periods of time by reducing discomfort, particularly in your feet.

Keep active

Stretching is the easiest and most popular way of keeping active at a standing desk. After all, the key benefits of using a standing desk come from the movement associated with alternating between sitting and standing.

Stretching can ease pain, boost circulation, and increase flexibility, which are all advantages when switching to a standing desk. Your lower back and glutes may feel tense after spending a lot of time sitting still. The same is true for prolonged durations of sedentary standing.

Is It Recommended To Stand For Long Periods?

It is not recommended to stand at a sit-stand desk for long hours, particularly over 2 hours at a time. Long periods of standing at work can result in a variety of health issues, including stiff neck and shoulders, stiff lower back and legs, varicose veins, leg edema, and generalised muscular weariness. It is advised that pregnant women avoid standing for extended periods. However, standing is a normal human posture, thus it doesn’t specifically represent a health risk by itself.

The Risks Of Prolonged Standing

Prolonged standing can result in lower back pain, varicose veins, leg edema, decreased blood flow, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and other health problems. However, as standing is a natural human posture, standing alone does not specifically pose a health risk.

Professionals that spend most of their workday on their feet such as nurses and teachers, run the risk of developing health problems over the long term. It is advised to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day because standing for brief periods of time can be healthy for the body. If you partake in a lot of computer tasks or have a desk job, then you can use a standing desk and an ergonomic office chair to reduce the risks of prolonged standing and improve comfort and energy levels.

Alternatives To Standing At A Height-adjustable Desk

Even though they may be expensive for some, purchasing a height-adjustable standing desk can promote or encourage a reduction in sedentary behaviours. Not only can you raise it back down if your feet begin to hurt, but you can also stand up when you’re feeling restless. No matter your size, you can modify it to the optimum fit for your body type. Additionally, doing this will help you stand straighter and prevent you from slouching over a computer screen. But there are standing desk alternatives that you may want to consider.

  • Leaning chairs or sit-stand stools – Sometimes called perching stools, they provide you with the option to perch or partially sit down while working. Since you lean on the stool, you are forced to activate your core body muscles to maintain balance. When selecting the ideal stool, stability and comfort should be taken into account.
  • Options for active sitting – Active chairs that stimulate dynamic movement while seated include balance ball chairs and kneeling chairs. They make your sitting experience more interesting, exercise your core muscles, and enhance posture. Remember that there may be an adjustment period and that not everyone may be able to use these seats.
desky stool
Standing desk stools are a great alternative instead of expensive ergonomic chairs (image by Desky).


In the end, the appropriate amount of time spent standing varies from person to person and is influenced by aspects including comfort, physical condition, and the nature of the activity. It’s crucial to pay attention to your body and develop a pattern that suits you, which may involve alternating periods of sitting and standing with frequent intervals for activity.

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