How to Use a Standing Desk: 5 Essential Habits

A man working at a standing desk

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In today’s modern workplace, many people are opting to use standing desks as a way to combat the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods. However, simply getting a standing desk is not enough to reap the full benefits of this ergonomic solution. It is important to learn how to use a standing desk correctly and effectively in order to maximize its benefits.

Using a height-adjustable desk allows for the flexibility of sitting and standing, which has been proven to be beneficial for both physical health and productivity. 

With the right knowledge and techniques, using a standing desk can be a positive addition to your workspace, helping you to stay healthy and productive throughout the day. 

Key Takeaways

  • Making a habit of switching between sitting and standing helps in achieving and maintaining good health and comfort at your standing desk.
  • Maintaining a natural and relaxed position at your standing desk is crucial.
  • Using an anti – fatigue mat underneath your feet and wearing comfortable shoes helps reduce strain on the back and lower body.
  • Taking short breaks every hour to do light exercises and walk around can improve productivity and contribute to a healthier body.
  • An ergonomic chair during sitting periods prevents slouching and reduces strain on your back, neck, and shoulders.

Switch Between Sitting and Standing

Developing a routine to switch between sitting and standing is crucial for making the most out of your standing desk. This routine balances the strain on your body and maximizes productivity in three ways:

  • Experts recommend practicing the 1:1 ratio: Following this ratio, you should alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes.
  • Avoid sitting or standing too much: This balance helps avoid health problems related to prolonged sitting or constant standing. Use the 1:1 ratio as an orientation while trying to find out for yourself how long you should stand at your standing desk. Remember to always listen to your body and contact a healthcare professional if you feel unsure about your approach.
  • Gradually increase your standing time: For newcomers, start by standing for short periods and increase your standing time as you get used to it. It is recommended to start with 5-10 minutes of standing every hour. 
  • Use a timer application: Setting up reminders on your phone or computer can help you stick to your planned sit-stand schedule.

Ergonomic Positioning and Proper Adjustments

How to sit and stand at a height-adjustable desk

Proper ergonomic positioning at your standing desk is vital to prevent discomfort and enhance productivity. Begin by setting your desk height to allow your forearms to rest parallel to the ground, with your elbows at a 90-100 degree angle. This stance helps maintain a straight, neutral spine and reduces the load on your back.

Place your keyboard and mouse close enough so you can use them while keeping your elbows by your side, creating a ‘neutral’ position that prevents you from reaching too far and straining your shoulders. Ensure that your forearms are supported by the desk surface or armrests, as this support can decrease stress on the shoulders and prevent the arms from getting fatigued.

The optimal distance for positioning your monitor is typically within the range of 50 to 70 cm (20 to 28 inches), depending on your vision and the size of your screen. Also, adjust the monitor height to position the screen in your natural line of sight. This adjustment allows your eyes to naturally gaze at the center of the screen without the need to move your head or eyes up or down, preventing unnecessary eye and neck strain.

Use an Anti-Fatigue Mat and Wear Comfortable Shoes

An anti-fatigue mat for standing desks

Investing in an anti-fatigue mat for your standing desk provides several benefits:

  • Increases comfort: An anti-fatigue mat, as the name suggests, combats fatigue. The cushioning decreases discomfort when you’re standing for extended periods of time at your standing desk. The mat also reduces strain on your back and lower body and improves posture and balance through its cushioning effect and resilience.

  • Promotes blood flow: Regular usage can help enhance circulation in your legs, preventing health problems associated with prolonged standing. This improved circulation also helps in reducing the risk of swelling and varicose veins.

How comfortable shoes help you:

  • Reduces leg and foot discomfort: Shoes that fit correctly and provide good support will reduce strain on your feet and legs. While an anti-fatigue mat offers surface-level cushioning, supportive shoes provide targeted support to your feet’s unique contours, significantly reducing discomfort and strain.
  • Keeps you going for longer: Comfortable shoes let you stand more frequently during long hours of work without hurting your feet. They complement the anti-fatigue mat by offering continuous comfort and support, even when you step off the mat.
  • Improves posture: Wearing good shoes results in better posture, cutting down on back pain and other associated issues. Supportive footwear enhances the posture benefits provided by an anti-fatigue mat, leading to more significant posture improvements and reduced back pain.

Take Breaks for Walking and Exercises

A person doing squats

Routinely incorporate movements and breaks into your standing desk routine to enhance your overall health and productivity. There are many simple and effective standing desk exercises you can do in your breaks. Many of them can even be done during work.

  • Set an alarm every hour to prompt you to take a break. 5-10 minutes every hour are recommended.
  • Rather than just sitting during a break, engage in light exercises or stretches.
  • A quick walk around the office or room can help maintain energy levels and ward off fatigue.
  • Try simple desk exercises such as shoulder rolls or stretching out your neck and shoulders.
  • Consider introducing eye exercises into your breaks as well, such as closing your eyes momentarily or looking away from the screen.
  • Yoga poses are a good option too, for they can be done right next to your stand-up desk without requiring additional equipment.
  • Exercising while standing at a standing desk, such as squats or calf raises, is another way of staying active even when working long hours.


If you want to exercise during work, you can consider using a balance board with your standing desk or even making a treadmill desk out of it.

Recommendation: Use an Ergonomic Chair during Sitting Periods

An ergonomic chair

An ergonomic chair can be a very beneficial component of your sit-stand routine. These chairs, equipped with adjustable features, are tailored to fit your body’s unique needs, enhancing posture and reducing the risk of back pain and other musculoskeletal problems.

It should be very obvious that every good standing desk routine will involve periods of sitting as alternating between sitting and standing is important. It’s during these times that an ergonomic chair can truly make a difference in health and comfort. 

Proper use of an ergonomic chair helps reduce strain on the back, neck, and shoulders by offering adjustable features that support the natural curve of the spine and encourage correct sitting posture. Consequently, this well-aligned sitting position not only minimizes physical discomfort but also enhances productivity by reducing fatigue, allowing for sustained focus and efficiency during long hours at workstations.


Embracing the tips above can truly optimize your standing desk experience. It’s all about balancing sitting and standingmaintaining good posture, and taking care of your body. A few tweaks here and there can lead to significant improvements in comfort, health, and productivity.

Additionally, it’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments as necessary. If you start to feel any discomfort or pain, take a break and re-evaluate your setup. Always start small and work your way up. It’s also important to incorporate regular movement throughout the day, whether it’s a quick walk, some light stretching, or even some brief exercises.

Remember, the goal of a standing desk is to promote better overall health and well-being, so don’t be afraid to make changes and find what works best for you at the moment. If you are unsure whether your approach is the right one for you, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. With these tips in mind, you can make the most out of your standing desk and enjoy its many benefits.


1. What is the proper way to sit at a sit-stand desk?

The right way to sit at a sit-stand desk involves adjusting the height so that your knees are at 90 degrees, keeping your back and neck straight, and not hunching over.

2. How does a sit-stand desk work?

A sit-stand desk is a desk that can be adjusted to allow the user to both sit and stand while working, promoting more activity and preventing the risks associated with staying in one position for too long.

3. Why is a standing desk mat important?

A standing desk mat provides cushioning and support for your feet while standing, helping to reduce and prevent fatigue and discomfort.

4. What are the risks of sitting all day?

Sitting all day can lead to increased health risks such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal problems.

5. How do I determine the correct height for a standing desk?

To find the correct height for a standing desk, stand upright and adjust the desk height so that your elbows are at a 90-100-degree angle when typing. This position should allow you to comfortably use your keyboard and mouse while maintaining good posture.

6. What is the proper way to stand at a standing desk?

Knowing how to correctly stand at a standing desk requires attention to body alignment and workspace setup for optimal health benefits. Adjust the desk so your forearms are parallel to the floor with elbows at a 90-100-degree angle, ensuring the monitor is at eye level to prevent neck strain. Your feet should be flat and hip-width apart for stability. Maintain a straight back and keep your shoulders in a relaxed position, while keeping your head in a neutral position to align your ears over your shoulders.

7. How should you cable manage a standing desk?

Cable managing your standing desk can have a positive impact on your productivity and offer more convenience and safety, especially if your setup is full of unorganized cables. You can use cable clips, trays and sleeves to keep your cables organized and tidy.