Can a Standing Desk Lower Blood Pressure?

People standing at standing desks

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, and many don’t even know they have it. Lifestyle factors like prolonged sitting are known to increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.

To combat the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, many people choose to buy standing desks. By allowing you to easily alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, a standing desk offers a practical way to reduce sedentary time and improve your health. But can a standing desk also lower blood pressure? 

The short answer is: Yes, a standing desk can lower blood pressure. A study published on PubMed shows a 4% decrease in systolic blood pressure after standing for a total of 2,5 hours during an 8-hour workday, compared to sitting. Let’s take a closer look in this article.

The Effect of Standing Desks on Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Measurement

Emerging research suggests that using a standing desk may have a positive impact on blood pressure levels. A study on PubMed shows the effect of using a standing desk on blood pressure. The participants were nine overweight or obese adults. The study showed that standing for a total of 2,5 hours during an 8-hour workday reduced systolic blood pressure by 4% among the participants, compared to sitting. (from 137 mmHg to 132 mmHg)

Increased Movement and Circulation

One of the key ways that standing desks may lower blood pressure is by promoting increased physical activity and better circulation. When you stand, your leg muscles are more active, helping to pump blood back to the heart more efficiently. This improved blood flow can not only lower blood pressure but also reduce the risk of blood pooling and clotting that can occur with prolonged sitting.  

Reduced Stress Levels

Another potential mechanism by which standing desks could lower blood pressure is by reducing stress. Prolonged sitting has been linked to increased levels of anxiety and depression, which can contribute to high blood pressure through the effects of stress hormones like cortisol.

In contrast, using a standing desk has been associated with improved mood and energy levels. In a 7-week study, participants who used standing desks reported better mood states than those who remained seated the entire workday. Reducing psychological stress is an important lifestyle factor for managing blood pressure.

Stabilization of Blood Sugar Levels

Standing after meals has been shown to significantly reduce post-meal blood sugar spikes compared to sitting. This is important because persistently elevated blood glucose can contribute to high blood pressure and increase cardiovascular disease risk over time.

If you want to take a closer look at the effects of high blood sugar levels on blood pressure, check out this article

By using a standing desk, particularly after lunch, office workers may be able to better stabilize their blood sugar levels throughout the day. In a study, spending 185 minutes at a standing desk was shown to significantly lower blood sugar spikes by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time. 

Higher Energy Expenditure

While the calorie-burning benefits of standing desks are often overstated, they do lead to a small increase in energy expenditure compared to sitting. Standing burns roughly 8 more calories per hour than sitting. Over the course of a workday, this could add up to 50-100 extra calories burned.

Although modest, this increase in calorie burn may help with weight maintenance and counteract some of the metabolic harms of prolonged sitting. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for blood pressure control, as excess body fat is a major risk factor for hypertension.

Why Sitting Increases the Risk of High Blood Pressure

Person sitting on an ergonomic chair

Prolonged sitting has emerged as a significant risk factor for developing high blood pressure, even for people who exercise regularly. Understanding how sitting for long periods can raise blood pressure is important for developing effective strategies to counteract these negative effects.

Impact of Prolonged Sitting on Blood Pressure

When you sit for extended periods, your leg muscles are inactive, leading to reduced blood flow. Over time, this can cause blood to pool in the legs and create a higher pressure load on the blood vessels and heart, leading to higher blood pressure. 

Additionally, the reduced blood flow and shear stress caused by prolonged sitting leads to a drop in the availability of a key blood vessel dilator called nitric oxide. With less nitric oxide available, blood vessels are more prone to constrict, raising blood pressure. Uninterrupted sitting also increases sympathetic nervous system activity, further contributing to blood vessel constriction and acute blood pressure elevation.


The evidence suggests that standing desks could be a practical way to help lower blood pressure, especially for those with sedentary desk jobs. By allowing you to alternate between sitting and standing, sit-stand desks can improve blood flow and boost cardiovascular health.

Of course, using a standing desk should be combined with other healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management for the greatest positive impact on blood pressure. Also, don’t forget that it is essential to find a good balance between sitting and standing. Use the recommended 1:1 sit-stand ratio (which translates to alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes) as an orientation.


1. Can standing desks really help lower blood pressure?

Yes, studies have shown that alternating between sitting and standing positions using a sit-stand desk can significantly lower diastolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure compared to sitting all day. Regular use of a standing desk may be a practical way to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart attacks and other serious health problems associated with prolonged sitting.

2. How long should I stand at my desk to see benefits for blood pressure?

Aim to stand for at least a few hours spread throughout the workday, alternating with periods of sitting. Start with shorter standing intervals of 5-10 minutes per hour and gradually increase as your body adjusts. Many experts say that the goal should be to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes.

3. Can a standing desk help with other health risks besides high blood pressure?

Yes, there are many other health benefits of a standing desk. In addition to potentially lowering blood pressure, using a standing desk may help reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease that are associated with prolonged sitting. Standing desks are also known for alleviating back, neck, and shoulder pain, boosting mood and energy levels, and increasing productivity.

4. Do I need an expensive electric sit-stand desk to get the benefits?

No, while electric sit-stand desks offer easy height adjustability, more affordable options like standing desk converters that sit on top of a regular desk can also allow you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. The key is to have a setup that makes it convenient to switch positions and encourages more standing time overall.

5. Can I stand all day instead of using a sit-stand desk?

No, prolonged standing all day is not recommended and increases the risk of health problems like back pain and circulatory issues. The goal should be to alternate between sitting and standing positions, aiming to reduce overall sedentary time. Experts advise taking walking breaks and stretching regularly in addition to using a standing desk. 

6. What else can I do to reduce the risks of prolonged sitting?

In addition to using a standing desk, take frequent walking breaks, stay hydrated, wear supportive shoes, and use an anti-fatigue mat when standing. Combine the use of a standing desk with other healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques for the greatest benefits to blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.

7. Are there any people who should not use a standing desk?

People with certain health conditions like balance or joint issues should consult with their doctor before using a standing desk. Pregnant women and those with circulatory problems or chronic pain may need to limit standing time or make modifications to their workstations. Paying attention to any discomfort and proper ergonomic setup is important for everyone when transitioning to a sit-stand desk. Please don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare professional if you feel unsure about anything regarding the use of a standing desk.