How Long Does It Take to Get Used to a Standing Desk?

Person standing at a sit-stand desk

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The use of standing desks has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the growing awareness of the health risks associated with prolonged sitting. Studies show that sitting for long periods can lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and even premature death.

Standing desks allow you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, reducing your sedentary time. However, standing for long periods can also lead to discomfort and fatigue if you’re not used to it. So how long does it take to get accustomed to using a standing desk?

Key Takeaways

  • It can take 2-4 weeks for your body to get used to a standing desk. The end goal is to alternate sitting and standing, not standing all day.
  • Start by standing for 5-10 minutes per hour, and gradually increase your hourly standing time by around 1-2 minutes every day until you reach a standing time of 30 minutes every hour. 
  • Pay attention to body signals like fatigue or discomfort, and take sitting breaks as needed. Avoid prolonged static standing.

How Long It Takes to Get Used to a Standing Desk

A man working at a standing desk

Transitioning to a standing desk is a significant change for those accustomed to sitting for long periods. The time it takes to get used to a standing desk can vary based on individual factors such as physical condition, the nature of the work, and personal preferences. 

Starting Small

Many experts, including us, recommend beginning with standing intervals of 5-10 minutes every hour as this helps your body adjust to the new posture without causing undue stress or discomfort. This method allows the muscles and joints to adapt slowly, reducing the risk of back pain or leg fatigue that can come from standing for too long without a proper build-up.

We tried these intervals out when we were beginners ourselves and we felt comfortable with them. It still felt a bit odd and slightly uncomfortable to suddenly stand instead of sit but we didn’t suffer from any major discomfort. 

The Adjustment Process (Gradually Increasing Standing Time) – Our Experience 

There are not many recommendations on how exactly to increase your standing time. We recommend you increase your hourly standing time by approximately 1 to 2 minutes every day so that your body takes 2-4 weeks to get used to the recommended 1:1 sit-stand ratio. This at least got us through our adjustment process without making us suffer from any significant discomfort. 

A gradual increase in standing time is essential for a comfortable transition. This incremental approach helps individuals find a balance that suits their body’s needs and limits. Over time, this can lead to increased tolerance for standing and a more natural integration of the standing desk into the daily routine. Remember to always listen to your body rather than sticking to any recommendations. Just use them as an orientation.

The End Goal

The ultimate goal for standing desk users is to reach a healthy balance between sitting and standing. Many experts state that the ideal sit-stand ratio is to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes. (1:1 sit-stand ratio)

This frequency helps to maximize the health benefits associated with standing desks, such as improved posture and increased energy levels, while minimizing the risks of muscle fatigue or strain. It’s important to note that the end goal may differ for each individual, and finding the right balance is a personal journey.

How Do You Know If You Are Already Used to Your Standing Desk?

It takes time and consistency to fully adapt to using a standing desk. Paying attention to your body’s signals, evaluating your progress, and adjusting your routine can help you determine when you’ve adjusted.

Paying attention to your body’s signals

Listen to your body to gauge how you’re adjusting to standing. Signs you may need more time to adapt include:

  • Fatigue or soreness during or after standing
  • Discomfort that prevents you from focusing
  • Persistent foot, leg, or back pain

Evaluating Your Progress

It can be helpful to track metrics like energy levels, productivity, and time spent sitting vs. standing. Notice improvements that indicate you’ve got used to a more upright workstyle:

  • You have reached a healthy sit-stand ratio, like the 1:1 ratio
  • Increased focus and concentration while standing
  • Feeling energized after standing sessions
  • Better posture and less slouching

Accessories that can help you make standing more comfortable

Certain accessories can enhance comfort while using your standing desk, especially during the adjustment process:

Anti-Fatigue Mats

Anti-fatigue mats provide cushioning for your feet and encourage subtle movement. This can boost circulation to relieve leg fatigue and varicose veins from standing. 

Comfortable Shoes

Supportive shoes are essential for standing comfort. Choose shoes with cushioning, arch support, and roomy toe boxes. Bring a spare pair suitable for standing if your regular office shoes lack support. Some top-rated brands include Brooks, Hoka, Asics, and Birkenstock.

Step Stools

A step stool lets you alternate between standing with one foot elevated to reduce pressure. This enhances circulation and allows you to shift position for greater comfort. 


Adjusting to a standing desk can take some time and consistency, but becomes easier with the right approach. Most people are able to transition within 2-4 weeks by starting with short standing intervals and gradually building up time on their feet. Paying attention to your body’s signals, tracking your progress, and using accessories for comfort and movement can help smooth the process.

The ultimate goal is to alternate sitting and standing, not stand statically all day. With the proper set-up and routine, a standing desk can be an adaptable and healthy upgrade to your workspace.


1. How can I alternate between sitting and standing effectively?

To effectively alternate between sitting and standing, aim to follow the 1:1 sit-stand ratio, which translates to 30 minutes of standing every hour. Use a timer to remind yourself to switch positions regularly to avoid discomfort and fatigue. Always remember to react to your body’s symptomps and to consult a healthcare professional if you feel unsure about anything. These are the most important things when finding out how long you should stand at a standing desk.

2. What should I do to maintain good posture while using a standing desk?

When using a standing desk, ensure your back is in a neutral position, meaning neither slouched nor overly arched. At the same time, make sure your neck and shoulders are also in a natural position, your screen is in your normal line of sight, your elbows are at a 90-100-degree angle, and your wrists are straight. Consider using an anti-fatigue mat to reduce strain on your feet and legs.

3. How can I prevent lower back pain when transitioning to a standing desk?

To prevent lower back pain when transitioning to a standing desk, make sure your desk height is adjusted correctly and that you’re not standing for prolonged periods.