Standing desks have become increasingly popular thanks to varied reports that suggest that sitting for prolonged periods of time every day may actually be unhealthy for you. While convertible desks and adapters have made it easy to switch from sitting to standing workstations, the actual guidelines of how long and how often you’re supposed to stand at your desk remain unknown. Take a look at some of the benefits of standing at your desk and how often you should stand to get the most health benefits out of a standing workstation.
The Problem with Sitting
Various studies suggest that sitting for more than eight hours per day is linked to various health risks, including:
- Increased blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Decreased physical energy
Most of these studies involved subjects who also did not perform any regular exercise. Analysis suggests that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per day was enough to counteract these issues, but the point stands that extended periods of staying sedentary are not generally good for your ongoing health. Prolonged sedentary time has been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Benefits of Standing Desks
Are Standing Desks Good For You? Standing desks allow you to change things up and avoid sitting during your entire workday while presenting plenty of benefits along the way.
Reduced Risk of Weight Gain
Any amount of weight gain usually comes down to calories, which you can control through your diet, exercise, or some combination of the two. Standing burns more calories than sitting, which may help to keep your weight under control. Granted, exercise is still the best way to burn calories, but standing can help. While the exact caloric usage can vary based on your own metabolism, standing will burn about 8 more calories per hour than sitting, which adds up over the workweek.
Improved Blood Sugar Regulation
Increased blood sugar levels can pose some health problems, especially if you have insulin resistance or a predisposition to diabetes. However, studies found that standing following lunch reduced spikes in blood sugar by 43 percent. Granted, standing for over three straight hours is not recommended or necessarily feasible for many. In a separate study, subjects alternated between sitting and standing every 30 minutes, resulting in a reduction in mean blood sugar by 11.1 percent.
Improved Mood and Energy
Using a standing desk may also benefit your mood and energy levels. A seven-week trial found that having a standing desk at work reduced stress and fatigue while increasing energy and vigor throughout the workday. Returning to sitting reverted moods to their original levels. Broader research also links sedentary lifestyles with an increased risk of depression and anxiety, though the exact mechanisms involved still require further study.
If you find your motivation and productivity slipping while you’re sitting at your desk, you may want to try standing. Standing up may improve your work activity. Research from the British Medical Journal found that 43 percent of workers who opted for a standing desk at work reported improved work performance, while 52 percent of those using standing desks felt more engaged in their work.
How Often Should I Stand Up at My Desk?
Despite the growth and popularity of standing desks, there aren’t any specific guidelines for how long or how often you should be standing up at your desk. Experts do agree that it’s better to alternate between standing and sitting instead of standing all day.
How Long Should You Stand At Your Standing Desk? While experts initially recommended standing up for about 15 minutes every hour, research suggests standing at least 30 minutes every hour. Optimal stand-sit ratios vary between 1:1 and 3:1. At its highest, that equates to about 45 minutes of standing for every hour of sitting. Finding your specific sweet spot can take some trial and error.
If you do think sit-stand workstations are the right solution for you, make sure you take all aspects of your workstation into consideration. Use a standing desk converter to make the process easier. Consider a standing desk mat to ease the pressure on your lower body to promote proper posture, and use monitor mounts to adjust your computer to avoid discomfort.