We know you can’t stand at a sitting desk, but can you sit at a standing desk?
Standing all day may sound like the ultimate calorie burner, but staying on your feet all day isn’t something to aspire to.
Ergonomics is all about balance. You need to be putting on (or taking off) the right amount of pressure on different body parts to make a sitting or standing position sustainable. Sitting puts more pressure on your hips, whereas standing puts pressure on your legs and feet.
A standing desk that you couldn’t sit down at is not very practical, which is why most standing desks can be lowered and sat at like a traditional office desk.
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Is It Bad to Use a Standing Desk All Day?
The short answer to this question is yes. You should not be standing all day long, regardless of whether you are working in a factory or answering HR emails. This means that the desk shouldn’t be fully extended.
In fact, it’s recommended that you take breaks between standing/sitting. Some people like to set a timer and spend half of every hour standing up, then the other half seated in an ergonomic office chair.
Other individuals prefer listening to their body and make a habit of changing positions frequently when their hips, legs, or feet become fatigued.
This isn’t to say that standing desks aren’t practical. It’s just that you need to be able to move it up and down to be able to use it throughout the entire day.
Benefits of Standing
There are a lot of positives to spending a good chunk of your day on your feet, so don’t think that getting a standing desk isn’t beneficial.
To start, it burns more calories!
Sitting all day can encourage weight gain, which may lead to other health complications down the line. Standing burns an extra eight calories an hour compared to sitting.
This isn’t a ton (and you shouldn’t base whether you’re going to have a cookie on how long you spent standing) but it proves that standing is a more active position.
Standing also takes a lot of pressure off of your hips and lower back. Some doctors will prescribe a standing desk to patients who are prone to lower back pain and need to spend more of their work day on their feet.
It’s also a good idea to spend time standing if you’re suffering with sciatica or don’t get to enjoy a lot of physical movement regularly.
How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?
The amount of time you can spend standing at a standing desk depends on how long you’ve been using it.
Individuals who are new to the standing desk life need to be careful not to over-exert themselves the first few weeks. Your age, muscle mass, and standing tolerance will all determine how your body reacts to spending more time on its feet.
If you’re brand new to using a standing desk, you should aim to be standing for only 30 to 60 minutes a day. Once this feels comfortable, you can slowly increase that time.
It’s unlikely that you will ever feel comfortable on your feet for an entire workday, which is completely normal.
Ideally, you should be standing one hour for every one to two hours you spend sitting. Some people like to alternate between 30 minutes sitting and 30 minutes standing to evenly distribute standing time in their day.
Remember, the key is balance. Staying in any position for too long can be detrimental to your spine, hips, and mental health.
Taking a short walk in between sitting/standing positions is a great way to ensure you’re giving your body the care it needs while still being productive and proactive at work.
Can You Sit at a Standing Desk?
Yes! You can absolutely sit at a standing desk!
For the most part, all standing desks can be lowered or raised easily. Some of them are automated and others require the users to manually shift the desk into your desired position.
If a standing desk cannot be lowered to the height of a traditional desk, it is not worth investing in. Experts encourage people to alternate between sitting and standing during the day, so you’ll want it to be as easy as possible to transition from one position to another.
To make the most out of your time seated, you should invest in an ergonomic office chair.
Standard office chairs are fine for short-term use, but they don’t give you the lumbar support and comfort a chair designed to be used for longer periods can.
There are several great ergonomic office chair brands out there (Steelcase, Herman Miller, Knoll, etc.) If you do your research, you can even find a secondhand one in great condition for a fraction of its original retail price.
Alternatively, putting a small cushion in the small of your back can provide you with short-term support to keep your posture correct and your spine aligned.
When sitting, keep your feet grounded into the floor and hold your head and shoulders up. Do not cross your legs, as this can put unwanted pressure on your hips and lower back.
Sitting at a standing desk isn’t just possible, it’s recommended. Spending all day standing may sound like a great idea, but you would just be pushing your body to unnecessary lengths for no good reason.
We suggest opting for an automatic standing desk that can move up and down at the touch of a button. Make sure to keep an eye on the time so that you can alternate between sitting and standing throughout your day.
Furthermore, when standing, you may want to wear thick-soled shoes or stand on a softer surface.
What’s your experience with standing desks been like? Do you like bringing them lower to sit in, or do you try to stay on your feet all day?
Let us know in the comments below!
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.