Is standing at work better for you than sitting?

So far this month I’ve been banging on about how bad it is for your body to sit in a poor posture and given you tips on how to move regularly and achieve ‘good posture’ while you sit…

But is there an even better alternative?

What about standing? Is that any better for you?

Standing inherently stimulates more muscle activity and therefore improves your metabolism and burns more energy. Standing has also been proven to improve concentration, productivity and mental health- YAY!

However, standing also puts more load on the circulatory system (think varicose veins), isn’t quite as efficient for performing fine motor tasks (like typing fast), plus standing still at a a desk is very tiring.

So what’s the answer?


… Introducing the ‘Sit to Stand’ desk!

(If you don’t have a stand-capable desk, yet, don’t worry… there’s advice later in the blog for you!)

Lots of people now have what we call ‘Stand-capable’ desks… where there’s an option to sit or to stand. Do you?

These sit-stand desks allow you to change position from sitting to standing throughout the day, which is ideal!

Like with sitting, it’s the change up from one position to another that’s important.

So, you might start your day sitting, then after doing your 2 minutes of movement every half hour for an hour or two, you are feeling a bit ‘antsy’ or uncomfortable sitting and decide to raise your desk and stand for the rest of the morning til your break.

But beware, everyone has a different tolerance for standing… that is, the amount of time it’s comfortable for you to stand before you start to feel tired and need to shift your weight around.

So, you will need to listen to your body for cues as to when it’s time to sit again. Initially that may be only after 10 or fifteen minutes!

Find out how you can try a free ‘Workstation workout’ program.

What are the cues to look for?

Whenever you notice you’re starting to stand with your weight more on one leg than the other, sinking into one hip, or locking your knees back straight, you need to think about whether it’s time to sit down again.

Doing little mini-lunges to shift your weight forwards and backwards, one side then the other, is effective, as is doing some mini squats and calf raises.

This might kick your standing posture muscles back into action so you can stand properly again for a bit longer.

Plan to sit down though as soon as you need to.

You will find that your endurance for standing gradually improves, though you always want to be in the habit of changing up your posture often

If you don’t yet have a stand-capable desk, don’t fret. Try to find ways that you can incorporate more standing- or even better, moving/walking- into your day.

Perhaps you get into the habit of standing, and even walking, to take phone calls. Some people organise ‘standing meetings’ around a communal raised bench or a standing desk to nut things out with your team. If you’ve got to commit something to memory it’s great to stand or walk, as that facilitates your memory retention. It often said, but worth repeating, to walk to talk to team members rather than internal email, walk to the printer or rubbish bin, or for any little errand you can think of to get you up out of your chair!

Back to sit-stand desks…

Now there are quite a few stand-capable desks on the market, but not all are created equal! Some are quite expensive for what you get, or don’t allow for much space around your keyboard for documents, or aren’t so easy to put up/down, or trap electrical cords

Follow the link to my ‘Shop’ page for my favourite sit-stand desk that ticks all the boxes for my clients!

If your workplace isn’t overly keen to provide sit-stand desks, then you can ask your doctor of physiotherapist to write you a quick note stating how you’d benefit from the provision of a sit-stand desk.

Otherwise, treat yourself yourself to one for Christmas- it will pay off!

The steps to making your sit-stand desk a success are

  • Listen to your body for cues to stand or sit
  • Make the effort to change up from sitting to standing as often as you need to
  • Be active in your standing, move for two minutes every half hour