How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?

A height-adjustable standing desk

Table of Contents

In today’s sedentary lifestyle, where many of us spend hours sitting at a desk, finding a way to combat and prevent the negative effects of this lifestyle has become increasingly important. This is where standing desks come into play. Standing desks, most of them known as sit-stand desks, allow individuals to alternate between standing and sitting positions throughout the day, offering numerous health benefits.

Several studies have found that standing for portions of the day not only helps improve comfort and energy levels, but also reduces the risk of certain health issues associated with sitting for long periods of time. In fact, sitting for eight hours a day has been linked to increased risks of obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. 

To counteract these risks, individuals can opt for standing desks that accommodate both standing and sitting positions. This allows you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.

This guide will answer the question “How long should you stand at a standing desk?”. It’s important to know the right answer to this question, as an improper sit-stand routine could be detrimental instead of beneficial to your health and comfort.

Key Takeaways

  • Many recommend implementing a sit-stand ratio of 1:1 to 1:3. This translates to 15-30 minutes of sitting and 30-45 minutes of standing within an hour. Another popular recommendation is the 20-8-2 rule (20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes of standing, 2 minutes of walking and stretching). If you don’t know which of these recommendations to choose, try to work your way up to the 1:1 sit-stand ratio, as it offers a balanced approach.
  • It’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. Taking a movement break of around 5-10 minutes every hour is also important to keep your body healthy.

Duration Recommendations from Experts

Alternating between sitting and standing at a desk

You have likely already often heard or read that a good balance between sitting and standing throughout the day is key for reaping the benefits of a standing desk and avoiding potential health risks associated with prolonged periods of either position. So, what ratio is ideal?

Many experts recommend a sit-stand ratio from 1:1 to 1:3, meaning 30 minutes of sitting followed by 30 minutes of standing to 15 minutes of sitting followed by 45 minutes of standing. This recommendation is based on research by a professor at the University of Waterloo

Another common recommendation is the 20-8-2 rule, which suggests that within every half hour you should sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes, and walk around and do stretches for 2 minutes. This rule is recommended by a professor at Cornell University.

If you don’t know which of those recommendations to follow, just set the 1:1 sit-stand ratio as your goal. This ratio offers a balanced approach.

It’s important to find the right balance that works for you and listen to your body. What ratio you prefer depends on individual factors such as age, physical fitness, personal comfort levels, and any specific health concerns or ergonomic requirements.

If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the ratios within the recommended range, even if you have already tried to get used to it, get in touch with a healthcare professional to receive personalized advice. 

Additional Considerations for Your Standing Desk Routine

Person standing at a correctly adjusted standing desk

Ergonomic Guidelines

To use a standing desk properly and maintain good posture, follow these ergonomic guidelines:

  1. Adjust the desk height: Set the desk at elbow height to ensure your arms are at a 90-100-degree angle when typing.
  2. Position the monitor: Place the computer screen at eye level to prevent neck strain. Use a monitor stand if necessary.
  3. Use a supportive chair: Have a comfortable chair nearby for breaks from standing. Choose one with good lumbar support.
  4. Stand up straight: Maintain proper posture by aligning your head, shoulders, and hips while maintaining the spine’s natural S-shape curve.
  5. Keep wrists straight: Avoid bent wrists while typing by using an ergonomic keyboard or wrist rest.
  6. Wear comfortable shoes: Opt for supportive footwear that cushions your feet and helps reduce leg fatigue.
  7. Use an anti-fatigue mat: This helps reduce strain on your legs and feet during prolonged standing.

Enough Movement and Exercises

To get the most out of your standing desk, it’s also important that you ensure enough physical activity throughout the day. 

Incorporating a break into your sit-stand routine is essential for maintaining physical health and mental alertness. Ideally, this break should be around 5 to 10 minutes and taken every hour. During these breaks, engaging in light exercises such as stretching or yoga can be particularly beneficial. These activities help to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation. A short walk, whether indoors or outdoors, also aids in keeping your body healthy and provides a mental refresh. Ideally, you should do both.

How you schedule that break ultimately depends on your personal comfort and needs as well as your work demands. This is what most people do:

  1. Incorporating the break between the sitting and standing interval.
  2. Taking an even amount of time off the standing and sitting interval to take a break.
  3. Splitting the break time into smaller intervals. For instance, on days packed with ongoing tasks, these shorter breaks are ideal for quick exercises or brief walks, providing a moment of physical activity without significantly disrupting your workflow.

Gradually Increase Standing Time

To avoid health issues, it’s important to start with a short period of standing and gradually increase the amount of time you spend standing. It’s important that you let your body take some time to get used to your standing desk. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Start with standing for just 10 minutes an hour.
  2. Increase the amount of time you stand each day by a few minutes.
  3. Aim for a goal of standing for about half of your workday.
  4. Listen to your body and take breaks when needed.

Listen to Your Body and Adjust Accordingly

Adjusting and listening to your body is essential when using a standing desk. Pay attention to how your body feels throughout the day, especially in your back and neck. 

Don’t hesitate to sit down if your body needs a break from standing. By making such adjustments, you can ensure that your body stays comfortable and healthy while using a standing desk.

Remember, everyone is different, so there isn’t one specific time limit for how long you should stand at a standing desk. It’s important to listen to your own body and adjust accordingly based on how it feels throughout the day.

Avoiding Risks of Standing For Too Long

Person having leg pain

Among several health issues that come from standing too long, this is the most common one:

Strain on Legs and Feet

Prolonged standing can put a strain on your legs and feet. When you stand for long periods without relief, blood can pool in your legs and feet, causing discomfort and pain. This pooling of blood may lead to chronic health issues over time.

Excessive standing and repetitive motion also increase the risk of foot/leg pain and sprains. It’s important to find a balance between sitting and standing throughout the workday to reduce the strain on your legs and feet.

So remember to take regular breaks, alternate between sitting and standing, wear comfortable shoes, use an anti-fatigue mat if necessary, and listen to your body’s signals for when it needs rest or movement.

Benefits of Using a Standing Desk

A sit-stand desk with additional accessories

Using a standing desk can improve your health and comfort in many ways. Here are some of the main benefits:

Improved Posture and Back Health

Using a standing desk can make your back feel better. If your desk has the right height and you position yourself correctly, it helps to maintain a neutral posture, reduce strain on your back and neck, and promote better blood circulation. A study showed that the use of a sit-stand desk for just four weeks could result in a 54% reduction in neck and upper back pain.

The right way to use it is important for good results with your spine health.

Increased Energy and Productivity

Standing desks boost your energy. You move more when you stand. This helps improve blood flow. Better blood flow means a better distribution of oxygen in your body. More oxygen gives you more energy.

With added energy, you do work better and faster. Your mind stays alert for longer periods which boosts productivity at work. Standing desk benefits include getting tasks done quicker and with less effort too!

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Standing desks help to cut down the time you sit. Sitting for hours can lead to several chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Using a standing desk adds more movement to your day which helps fight off these diseases as well.

Moving helps the body stay more healthy. It boosts blood flow and burns calories. Therefore, using a standing desk can lower obesity risk too.


If you’re starting with a sit-stand desk, begin with short standing periods and slowly increase them to find what works best for you. Use the recommendations mentioned above as an orientation. It’s important to listen to your body and find a comfortable sit-stand balance. Don’t forget to also incorporate short movement breaks into your routine.  


1. Can using your standing desk cause lower back pain?

Standing for too long periods at your desk could lead to back issues. It can also strain leg muscles and tendons, causing discomfort.

2. What are the benefits of using a height adjustable standing desk correctly?

With the right height, a sit-stand or height-adjustable office chair can help to reap many health benefits like preventing poor posture and reducing pressure on the lower back and legs.

3. Does continuous sitting have risks?

Yes! Sitting too much during your work day can lead to musculoskeletal problems and other health issues. Studies found that people who live sedentary lives have an increased risk of dying early.

4. Will standing burn more calories than sitting or not?

Yes! Standing burns more calories than sitting over long hours; it’s why many prefer to stand at work, but remember not to stand for too long!

5.What’s an anti-fatigue mat used for?

Anti-fatigue mats are designed to alleviate fatigue and discomfort associated with standing on hard floor surfaces for extended periods.

6.What are the benefits of standing?

The benefits of standing while working include improved posture, increased calorie burn, reduced risk of certain health problems, and enhanced blood circulation.

7.Can standing for long periods cause any health problems?

Standing for extended periods may contribute to varicose veins, leg discomfort, and lower back pain. It is important to find a balance between sitting and standing to avoid overexertion.

8.Are there any anti-fatigue solutions available for standing?

To combat fatigue from prolonged standing or sitting, you can consider using an anti-fatigue mat or combining both anti-fatigue mat and comfortable shoes to enjoy maximum comfort.

9.What are the general benefits of using standing desks?

Properly using a standing desk can improve blood circulation, boost energy levels, enhance focus and productivity, and alleviate back pain and other posture-related issues.

10.How long can I stand before it becomes detrimental to my health?

Standing for long periods of time can lead to negative effects on your health. Some experts suggest alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes to 1 hour to avoid potential problems.

11.Are jobs that require standing all day bad for your health?

Jobs that require standing all day, such as bank tellers or workers on a production line, may increase the risk of foot pain, leg discomfort, varicose veins, and other musculoskeletal issues. Taking regular breaks and using supportive footwear can help reduce these risks.