How Much to Alternate Between Sitting and Standing

Posted by steve brielmaier on

and what to do while sitting or standing


This blog will deal with exactly how much time should be spent standing versus sitting when you have a sit-stand workstation. Ideally, you will begin with between 10-20 minutes per hour of standing while sitting for the remainder of the time during your first few weeks. After that, depending on what additional equipment you have, you can begin to incrementally increase the amount of time spent standing by 5-10 minutes per week until you are “standing” for the whole day. We believe, based on science, that you should not just stand still while using your stand up desk but should incorporate simple, small movements into your day along with bigger activities like stretches, exercises and using time spent doing routine activities to boost your metabolism, increase your caloric burn and generate the best results from the sit stand work lifestyle.

The Big Dilemma

Many people who read about the illness that sitting disease, as it is now being called, is causing want to jump into the sit stand work lifestyle right away. They do research on what kind of desk to get, they read about different types of desks that do all kinds of crazy things, have neat little attachments but then they find out how much it costs and figure out how they can afford to buy a desk that could get them a used car!

Hopefully, you didn’t go out and get a hydraulic desk without at least trying the sit stand work lifestyle but if you did no biggie we will still show you how to best use that amazing machine. If you haven’t yet made a decision on what desk to get I highly suggest reading our page “Why the Miracle Desk” and checking out the Miracle Desk HERE to see if it can help make the decision to start standing at work a little easier. I only say that because the Original Miracle Desk is less than $80 and lets you keep your same desk so you can test out whether working and standing is right for you.

But you are here reading about how much time to sit or stand while working, so either you already have a desk and are sore, or you are digging a bit deeper pre-purchase and figuring out what this whole standing while working thing would look like. Either way, we will go through all of the different ways you can add variety to your stand up desk work routine so that you work in the most healthy way while also optimizing to get all the benefits of standing at work.

If you have a desk and have hopped in a bit too aggressively with the standing and didn’t have proper insoles, an anti-fatigue mat, maybe monitor arms or stood all day right away then you are probably not feeling so energized, productive and healthy! That is ok because we will talk all about the tools you need and how to optimally structure your day so that you don’t get sore anymore and reap all the rewards of standing at work. I will show you the science behind it and at the end there will be links to all references on top of linking to any articles or studies I mention specifically. I only mention this so that you know before getting into this post that I didn’t just make this stuff up, some of it has come from our own staff’s personal experience but most of it is from studies or others who have gone out and tried to make the switch to standing at work and have passed on what they learned.

So let’s get to it then and break down a typical work day for your average 9-5’er and see how we can best use a sit-stand desk. Sitting or standing is not a difficult choice but there are ways to optimize how you sit and stand so that you get the most out of your work day. If you want to read some basics on posture, which is definitely a good starting point for when you switch from sitting to standing, then check out our blog post “HAVING CORRECT POSTURE WHILE USING A STAND UP DESK IS ESSENTIAL TO HELPING WITH BACK PAIN”.

To Sit or to Not Sit That is the Question

When you begin to stand at work, not only might you get some weird looks, it is hard to not want to start standing all day long. Science has shown though that alternating between sitting and standing is actually better for you than being on your feet all day. Especially considering that, most likely, you are so used to being slumped over staring at a screen all day that your core muscles and feet aren’t used to being used all day. This is why if you jump into standing all day right away that you will get very sore, feel tired and not believe all the things you read about how people are more energized, feel happier, are more productive, lose weight, aren’t getting diabetes or heart disease and don’t have back pain or neck pain any longer.  

So when beginning it is best to start slowly with how much time you spend standing. Many people will use a timer like at to track how much time they spent standing versus sitting all day or to ensure they don’t stand too long in the beginning. (For more tools, tips and accessories to optimize your standing work check out our article “Accessories, Tools and Tips You Must Have to Stand at Work”insert link once article is written and up)

There is no exact number that scientists have conclusively said is ideal for starting or even for continuing to stand while working. From first-hand accounts to scientific studies though it is abundantly clear that you need to start slow, something like 10-20 minutes a day depending on fitness level and accessories you have, and then incrementally increase the amount of time spent standing until you get to your personal ideal level. For me personally, I like to do certain things standing and others sitting and it tends to be focus based. So I stand when I need to focus and sit when I am doing something a little more routine. I tend to look less at time and more how I feel because I stand to feel better. For some people, they like to go about 50/50 on the sit to stand ratio for working while standing while others, like the owner of Miracle Desk, spend 90% of the day standing and often only sit for meetings. So after you have acclimated to standing while working and using your sit-stand desk then begin bumping up your time spent standing by 5-10 minutes a week. You can go faster if you have some or all of these things: an Anti-Fatigue Mat, are in good health, work out, have insoles, move while standing and have done your research so that your posture is correct.

A Few Tools to Use

Now everyone has a different reason for switching to a stand-up desk so maybe yours was to get healthier, lose weight, be more happy or to be more productive but there are some nifty tools you can use to gauge some of these things (like happiness doesn’t have an online calculator yet but I am sure you know if you are more happy). You should check out the calorie burning calculator that lets you know how many extra calories you are burning just by standing still at and you can use it by clicking HERE. Or if you want to see how much time you are sitting then use their sitting time calculator HERE. Use the standing clock tool mentioned above to track your actual time spent standing. Read our BLOG HERE for all kinds of tips, tools and tricks to get the most out of your stand up desk and new work while standing career.

Adding Movement to Your Day

Ideally, you will start with standing for various activities (even without having a stand-up desk you can do some of this) and begin to incorporate movement into your day. Stand while talking on the phone, while reading, while typing or while waiting for reports to run. It doesn’t matter what reason you choose to stand while working just choose something and do it consistently for about a week to get used to standing while working.

Since we are training you from the beginning it is good to note here that you should not stand still while you are standing and working. There are a lot of ways that you can begin to incorporate movement into your sit stand workday. From little things like shifting your weight between feet or better yet put one foot up on something and then alternate to pacing while talking on a corded phone or walk around if your phone is wireless. Also if you are waiting for a program to start or a report to run or for whatever reason, you have to wait for your computer to do something then you can do a stretch like the ones in the article referenced below. Some people even do squats or arm raises (for a list of great stretches that can be done at work, simple exercises or other ways to move at work read our article “Simple Stretches, Exercises and Ways to Burn More Calories”).

Just don’t stand still. Standing is great but standing and moving is what will ultimately get you the greatest  rewards. Since the focus of this blog is not movement while standing but the ideal amount of time to spend sitting versus standing I will leave it at that and hope that you go read our blog about ways to move during work but I do want to at least hear some of my story about when I started working here and began using the Miracle Desk.

My Personal Story of Standing While Working

When I started working here I had never stood for work before (at least not in front of a computer) and it took some getting used to but I was warned not to stand for too long if I hadn’t gotten insoles yet even though I had an Anti-Fatigue Mat (you can check out our Gel Anti-Fatigue Mats HERE). I have been certified as a personal trainer since I was 18 though so I knew how to stand properly, my core muscles were strong and I was used to being on my feet so I thought I would be fine. I was wrong. Standing all day and trying to type, answer calls, write, email and read a screen all while standing stock still made me my feet so sore that when I went home I couldn’t wait to get my shoes off and instead of having less back pain my back was sore not to mention how I was exhausted. As a result, I began my personal quest of research and learned all that I am now imparting to you about how to move while standing to reduce pressure on your joints and feet, to increase metabolism and to generally enjoy standing while working just a little bit more. I tend to not take others people’s advice and need to learn for myself so I did tons of research on standing while working, stand up desks and what it takes to really get the most out of using a sit-stand workstation and it has paid off big time. I am more productive, I do get things done faster, I have ADHD and so moving while working is ideal for me and on top of it I get to do exercises as part of work!  

The End 

Thanks for joining us again for another great edition of the Miracle Desk Blog I sincerely hope that we helped to answer your questions and maybe even answered some you hadn't thought of yet. Using a Stand Up Desk to switch between sitting and standing while working, whether in an office or from home or on the go, can be incredibly rewarding and the benefits are undeniable. Just read our page on "Why to Stand" and you will see all the reasons to start or keep standing while working. If you haven't gotten to check out our original Miracle Desk then click HERE and check it out. It is fun you can choose, size, color and height and don't have to sort through 100's of styles or designs just get the one that suits you perfectly. Have a great day and keep on standing for something. 


caloric burn metabolism sitting sitting vs standing standing tip tools

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