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Here's how long you should actually be standing at your standing desk

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Here's how long you should actually be standing at your standing desk

VIDEO: The health benefits of standing desks

People who have them love them and can't seem to get enough of them.


According to a 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, sitting for prolonged periods of time increases the chance of getting a chronic disease, and research shows that the one hour of daily exercise recommended by government guidelines isn't enough to counteract all the other hours of inactivity.

So sitting eight hours a day is bad; we get it. But is standing eight-plus hours a day good for you?

How many hours of each workday should the average person be standing?

While there's no study published regarding the optimal standing time, Kevin Weaver, a clinical assistant professor at New York University, says you should aim to stand for about four hours a day, sit for another four and switch every hour.

Chris Kolba, a sports medicine physical therapist at Ohio State University, says you should aim to stand for as long as you can until you get tired. 

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Photo credit: Uplift

I talked to a few physical therapists and ergonomists to find out just how much you should be standing -- if it's ok to sit down every now and then, and if standing really is for everyone.


Jon Paulsen, a certified ergonomist and CEO of UPLIFT Desk, echoes Kolba and says people should be standing until their feet get tired. At that point, you should be sitting for 30 minutes.

One thing everyone seemed to agree on is that most people should be able to stand for at least two hours during an 8-hour workday.


Is there a right way to stand?

Standing for prolonged periods of time may be better for your health, but it can cause fatigue.

Paulsen says buying anti-fatigue mats can improve foot comfort.

"Then, when your feet are tired," said Paulsen via email, "you should sit in an ergonomic chair and get into an ergonomic seated position. Work seated for 30 minutes. Then stand again."

What else can people do if having a standing desk is not an option?

Most of the professionals I talked to agreed that pretty much anything is better than sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Weaver recommends standing up every hour to go use the restroom or the copier. Kolba suggests stretching your arms, chest and legs every now and then. And if you can, "buy a box or crate to put your computer on" for a makeshift standing desk.

So in theory, office workers should ideally be standing up the entirety of the workday. As with most things in life, it's easier said than done. I talked to a few people who just joined the standing craze.

"I do it in intervals," said Ben Adam, a 28-year-old software developer. "Usually an hour or two in the morning and an hour in the afternoon."

"I do need to buy an anti-fatigue mat, as advised by my friends," said Seth Glick, a 32-year-old real estate agent. "I stand for a half hour or so, then sit, and back up."

"For my first day with my desk, I stood about while working for about a total of three hours," said Christina Vallejo, a 34-year-old education coordinator.

For the time being, standing desks don't seem to be going anywhere, and they're catching on in more places than just the workplace. An elementary school in Alexandria, Virginia, got standing desks for all of its students just last year.

How many hours can you stand while working?

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