Did you know that the average person spends about six and half an hour a day sitting? That's almost half of our waking hours! And, according to some experts, that's too much. Sitting for long periods has been linked with all chronic health problems, including back pain, heart disease, etc.
So what can we do about it? One solution is to switch to a standing desk. Standing desks have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more people realize the health benefits of standing instead of sitting.
But using a standing desk incorrectly can actually do more harm than good.
Here are 9 tips to help you use your standing desk correctly and get the most out of it:
1. Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
As with anything, moderation is key. Don't stand for the entire day just because you think it's better for you. In fact, standing for a long duration can also be bad for your health. It's essential to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the entire working hours.
But how do you know when to switch? A good rule of thumb is to stand for about 5-15 minutes every hour you sit. So if you sit for 6 hours, stand for 2 hours.
You can set a timer to remind you when to switch, or some standing desks have built-in timers to remind you. These timers are especially helpful in the beginning until you get used to the new routine. Once it becomes a habit, you won't even need the reminder.
2. Invest in a Good Pair of Shoe
Although, standing for 15 minutes per hour is not that easy initially. Because your feet, legs, and back will start to hurt if you are not used to it. So you will need a good pair of shoes to make it more comfortable.
Without proper footwear, you may experience foot pain, shin splints, and other problems. You'll get bored of standing quickly if you're in pain, so it's important to invest in a good pair of shoes that provide support and cushioning.
There are a few things to look for in a good pair of shoes for standing desks:
- Good arch support
- Cushioning in the heel and forefoot
- A comfortable fit
- Breathable materials
A pair of sneakers or running shoes is usually a good choice, as long as they have the above features. You can also find shoes specifically designed for standing desks, but they're not necessary.
3. Adjust Your Desk and Screen to Your Elbows' Height
Have you ever noticed that your elbows are usually at a 90-degree angle when you're sitting at a desk? That's because it's the most ergonomic position for your arms and wrists. When you're standing, your elbows should also be at a 90-degree angle, keeping your neck and shoulders in a neutral position.
To do this, you may need to adjust the height of your desk and screen. The top of your computer screen should be at eye level, and your keyboard should be at elbow height. You may need a laptop stand or monitor stand to achieve this.
Similarly, your desk should be at elbow height. You'll have to hunch over to reach the keyboard if it's too low, which can cause neck and shoulder pain. You'll have to raise your arms uncomfortably to type if it's too high.
The best way to find the right height is to adjust your desk and screen until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
4. Remember to Take Breaks
Letting your body adjust to standing for long periods is essential, and so is break. No matter how comfortable you become with standing, taking breaks is still important.
Why? Because even standing for long periods of time can be bad for your health if you do it too often. It's essential to have a balance between sitting and standing.
So, take a few minutes every hour to sit down and give your feet a break. Use that time to stretch your legs and back to keep them from getting too stiff.
Pro Advice: You may not take a break just to complete your task at once, but breaks are important to keep your mind and body both active. It'll eventually affect the quality of work you are doing because taking a break relaxes you, and when you come back, you are full of energy to work with a better focus.
5. Change Your Keyboard and Mouse Position
Remember that you'll need to keep changing your sitting and standing position to maintain good posture. That includes your keyboard and mouse position.
When you're sitting, your keyboard should be at elbow height in front of you, and your mouse should be close enough to reach without stretching your arm.
You may need to lower your keyboard to maintain that 90-degree angle on your elbows when standing. And you may need to move your mouse closer to you, so you don't have to reach for it.
Though it may seem like a small change, it can make a big difference in your comfort level when standing.
6. Use Arm Supports
If you find that your shoulders and neck are tired from standing, you may want to invest in a set of arms supports. These can help take some weight off your shoulders and neck by supporting your arms.
There are a few different arm supports, so find one that's comfortable for you and fits your desk.
7. Put Something Soft Beneath Your Feet - Purchase an Anti-fatigue Mat
Since you are on a hard surface when you're standing, it's important to have something soft beneath your feet. Anti-fatigue standing desk mats can help reduce the strain on your feet, legs, and back.
It'll make standing for extended periods more comfortable and can help reduce the risk of pain or injury.
8. Move While Using a Standing Desk
Just because you're standing doesn't mean you have to be stationary. In fact, it's actually better for you to move around while using a standing desk.
Walking around for a few minutes every hour can help improve your circulation and reduce the risk of pain or injury.
If you have the space, you can even add a treadmill or elliptical to your standing desk setup. This way, you can get some cardio in while you work.
Fun Fact: While walking or doing gentle exercise, we tend to think better and more productively.
9. Learn How to Stand Correctly
It may seem simple standing, but there's a right and wrong way to do it. With poor posture, you can actually do more harm than good.
To stand correctly, follow the tips below:
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles.
- Keep your shoulders down and back.
- Position your eyes approximately 20-28 inches away from the monitor screen.
- Keep your head level, eyes looking straight ahead.
- Stand up tall, but don't arch your back.
- Have your knees at 90 degrees.
Is it good to use a standing desk all day?
Standing all day without a break is one of the worst things you can do for your back and overall health. Those who stand while they work often have more back pain and are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. The best way to combat this is by moving around frequently and listening to your body to find the right ratio for you.
How long does it take to get used to a standing desk?
It typically takes two weeks to get used to a standing desk, but it varies from person to person. Start by slowly adding standing time to your day, and eventually, you'll be able to stand for without discomfort.
Is a standing desk healthier than a sitting?
According to researchers, standing instead of sitting burns 0.15 more calories per minute. For a 143-pound person, this would add up to 54 extra calories burnt in a day just from standing for six hours instead of sitting. Furthermore, the muscle activity used when standing is linked with reduced stroke risks and heart attacks.
How to maintain proper posture while standing?
Keep your neck upright and your shoulders loose. When you switch postures, use a small footrest to keep one foot raised or a standing desk mat, also known as an anti-fatigue mat, to avoid tiredness in your feet.
The bottom line:
The bottom line is that a decent height adjustable standing desk would be a wonderful thing for your health, but if you don't have the correct technique to utilize an electric standing desk, it won't help much.
If you don't have a good sit-stand desk, it'll even be more harmful to your posture and health. Some standing desks in the market are reasonably priced, so it's worth considering getting one if you spend a lot of time sitting down. If you want to be extra safe, get a height-adjustable desk so that you can find the perfect height for you.
A standing desk from Eureka Ergonomics might be a good option, as they have electric options that are very easy to use and come with a memory function so that you can save your favorite heights. Learn more about this glass-standing desk here before making a final decision.