Can Someone Please Tell Me How Much I Should Sit and Stand During the Day?

News Flash!

Sit/Stand desks have made their debut in our work spaces and are here to stay.

That is good news because study after study tells us that sit/stand desks improve our posture and make us more productive.  They also help us burn more calories, elevate our moods, increase our energy and enjoy better health. There is even data suggesting that sit/stand desks help us lower our blood sugar levels, reduce our risk for things like heart disease and diabetes and even suggests that sitting and standing throughout the day can help us live longer!

But there’s a catch.

You have to actually sit and stand throughout the day to reap the much touted benefits.  But the question that is on everyone’s mind is how much should we sit vs. stand throughout the day.  And unfortunately the answers vary wildly.   There was an article recently posted on LinkedIn that suggested we should only stand 15% of our day and sit for the rest of the time.  Another article suggests we stand every 20 minutes while others give us a guideline of 50/50 sitting and standing or sitting for 60% of your time, i.e. standing for 20% and moving for the remaining 20.

So How Much Should I Stand and Sit During My Day?

The best answer I can give you is to see what works best for you.  I stand about 75% of my day because it feels good to me.  One of my colleagues alternates every hour.  Another alternates by task and says he functions best for some tasks while standing and others when sitting.   There are many variables along with subjective preferences and ergonomic considerations.   Let’s break these down to help give you some guidelines.

Are you experiencing pain?

This is a very important consideration.  If you are experiencing any symptoms or wrestling with a back injury, sciatica or having an issue with your legs or feet, talk to your health care provider to see what is recommended for you.

Is your set up truly ergo friendly?

Your ergo set up is fundamental to you getting the most out of your sit/stand desk.  If something is off with your chair, desk height or placement of your keyboard, mouse and monitor, it will influence how much your sit vs stand during the day.

Here are some basic tips for you help optimize your set up.

  • Chair: Make sure your chair height allows you to sit with your knees at or slightly below hip level and with your feet comfortably planted on the floor or on a foot rest   If you sit at the edge of your chair, watch your posture and sit with a neutral pelvis.  If you sit against the back of the chair, make sure your chair provides adequate lumbar support and is positioned in an upright position when doing computer work.
  • Desk Height:  Whether you are sitting or standing, your desk height needs to be set so that your computer and mouse are at or slightly below elbow height with your elbows hanging close to your sides and directly under your shoulders.  (In other words, no reaching for your keyboard and mouse!)
  • Monitor Height: It is best to set your monitor(s) up so that it is directly in front of you, depending on the size of the monitor anywhere from 18 – 30 inches away from you and placed so that your head and neck can balance comfortable over the plane of your spine.  It is best to have your monitor on a height adjustable base or a monitor arm to adjust the height when you switch from sitting to standing. (For some people, the monitor needs to be a little higher in standing mode than it is in sitting mode.)
  • Standing Mat: If you are going to stand more than 30 minutes in your work day, then invest in an anti-fatigue mat (aka a standing mat).  Having cushioning under your feet will help you endure more standing intervals during your day and help your lower back, hips, knees and feet fare better while you stand.
  • Foot Support: Using a foot rest or foot rail when you stand will help you to shift your body weight from both legs to one or the other leg.  You can mix it up and stand for a while on your feet, then put one foot up on your foot support for 15 – 20 minutes, switch and put the other leg up and then go back to both feet.

 

How long is your work day?

The duration of your sitting and standing stretches is really important.  Say, for instance, you subscribe to the guidelines of 15% standing and 85% sitting and you work a 10 hour day.  Well, that means something very different than if you work part time and are at your desk for only 4 hours.  In the 10 hour day, you will be sitting for 8.5 hours which sort of defeats the purpose of getting a sit/stand desk in the first place.

Last but not least, what’s on your agenda for the day?

If you have a day full of meetings in a conference room where you know you’ll be sitting, then you may want to make it a point to stand when you work at your desk.  Or if you have a day dedicated to work at your desktop, try organizing  your sitting and standing sessions around your projects.   You may start your day with a project that takes an hour to do and start your day standing.  Then after you take a short break, do your next project, set for no more than 60 – 90 minutes in a seated position.

The Take Away?

Experiment and see what works best for you.

Until the next time,

Vivienne

1Comment
  • Cliftonguest
    Posted at 10:37h, 22 August Reply

    Themaestro, thanks so much for the post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

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