How Long Should You Really Stand At Your Desk?

We all know that standing desks are all the rage, they increase productivity, alertness, and overall benefit your health in the long term. They are capable of changing your lifestyle in a moment, with changes that can be felt even after a day of using one in the office. But some questions have come up since this craze has been circling the wellness community. We’re here to walk you through everything you need to know when it comes to figuring out just how long to stand at your desk.

We’ll also make sure that you know some of the most frequently asked questions so you’ll be able to use your standing desk or potential standing desk to maximize the benefits you’re able to receive.

Why work while standing at your desk?

Let’s go over why we should be standing in the first place. There are a lot of great benefits for standing while working. At the same time, there are a lot of problems that can happen to an individual for sitting too long which can develop a sedentary lifestyle. This often happens and can be detrimental to one’s health where researchers have said that sitting is the new smoking.

Studies have proven a lot of benefits from standing, some include:

What happens if you’re not feeling well?

If you’re feeling physically weak, do not push your body to stand for long periods of time when you’re not up for it. All this will do is make you feel worse or even light-headed, which will affect your work and your health. Whether you’re at home or at the office and not feeling well, try to get fresh air and walk a bit when you can, but standing for long periods of time won’t help you when your health isn’t at its best. Take it slow and listen to what your body has to say.

You don’t need to stand all the time

To find the right balance, take breaks! For every 30 minutes, take a two-minute break, a part of a program, the 20-8-2 rule, created by Alan Hedge from Cornell University, who recommends taking two minutes of stretching or mobility in your daily work habits. There’s, of course, no concrete program, but we suggest you try this system or something similar in hopes of finding what works best for you in your personal situation.

If you need to take breaks and sit, listen to what your body is telling you and do so! If you’re finding that you’re feeling distracted while standing, take a short break to regather your flow and continue with your sitting and standing rotation. Everyone is different, everyone reacts to things differently, so finding what works best for you is key to successfully benefiting from your standing desk. See below for a more detailed explanation of the 20-8-2 rule of balance.

Understanding that any daily activity is better than nothing

Remember that any activity is better than nothing. When you sit at your computer for 10 hours a day and go home to do the same thing but on your couch, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Remember that the more you move and stay active, by integrating flexing exercises and workouts at your office desk that keep you focused and energized, you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle that fits what you need. Start slow if you have to, but just keep moving!

Check out some daily exercises you can do.

What you need to know about working while standing up

Standing for too long and sitting for too long can cause strain in many different ways on your body. According to Nextdesk, a study they conducted in 2016 discovered that the best way to balance your standing and sitting ration with your standing desk should be sitting for twenty minutes, standing for eight, and moving around for two. These 30-minute cycles will be enough to keep your body active but not overly straining which will end up just making you tired.

So, how long should I stand at my desk?

By keeping your body active every thirty minutes in a cycle that helps you keep your focus and productivity levels up, you’ll allow your metabolism levels to rise and your body will not feel as stiff over time, as opposed to how you feel when sitting throughout the day. The 20-8-2 rule is a perfect place to start if you’re unsure of how often should you stand up from your desk.

The added bonus of the metabolism boost will help you avoid weight gain which can happen naturally from sitting all day. The stiff feeling we deal with from sitting will no longer linger even as you walk to lunch, you’ll be perfectly balanced and you’ll be able to adjust accordingly to how your body feels.

20-8-2 rule for sit to standing


Here are some frequently asked questions if you’re just starting to convert from a sit-to-stand work environment.

Will A Standing Desk Help Me Work Better?

Yes! Many have preached about the joys of standing at their standing desk, saying that it actually helps them stay focused and alert while they are working. They’re less likely to put off certain tasks that require them to get up and file something or go make copies, everything is simply more accessible and easy to work into your workflow without a break in concentration. If you decide that this is the best route, take a look at our sit-to-stand desk converters that we compiled and reviewed.

Is It Okay To Alternate Between Sitting and Standing?

Yes, of course! You should alternate between sitting and standing. Like we already mentioned, everyone is very different, if you can stand longer than 8 minutes without sitting down and you feel great, listen to yourself and do what you think is best and what feels the most natural to you.

Will My Feet Hurt?

Probably, yes – but only at first. You need to ask yourself if you’re standing too long throughout the day, because it’s usually best to alternate between standing and sitting and making small changes as you progress when using a standing desk for the first time. You can also purchase a simple anti-fatigue mat, which is a specially designed mat that will help you and your feet not feel sore over time.

Our final thoughts

While many throw around what is healthy and what isn’t, keeping your body in motion is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your health and your work lifestyle. A standing desk might take some time to get use to, but the benefits are unlike any other you’ll experience in other working environments. The drive and focus you will feel coming back into your daily life will show you right away just how essential this change is.

Take these tips and apply them to your new standing desk environment, you’ll be more productive and health-driven from this point forward.

Desk Advisor’s recommended readings:

Sources and References:


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Desk Advisor

Desk Advisor

Our team covers many categories to help you hustle better, from ergonomics to productivity, and technology. We are willing to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards the healthy workspace. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture but also how we deliver information to our readers. Ergonomic and productivity research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you work better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better hustle.

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