There are many benefits to standing at work. Studies show that by reducing sitting time, you can improve your overall physical and mental health. That’s why so many people are opting to work at an adjustable office standing desk. That way, they can alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day and reap the health benefits that come with it. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
If you’re considering getting a standing desk for yourself, you might be wondering what the correct standing to sitting ration is. Just how many hours a day should you spend standing while at work?
Don’t stand too much
Using a standing desk is great for you but you can’t stand for eight hours straight. You’d get extremely tired. Your legs would get sore. You’d probably give up on standing at work altogether pretty soon.
Moreover, it wouldn’t be good for your health – it could actually end up being detrimental. Studies have shown that too much standing could have a negative effect on your leg muscles and cause problems such as lower back pain, and even varicose veins.
This is why it’s so important that you alternate between sitting and standing. It’s all about the right balance. After all, you know how it goes: you can have too much of a good thing.
The perfect ratio
For the longest time, health experts have been telling people to alternate between standing and sitting at a 1:3 ratio. This meant that the recommended time you were supposed to spend standing was 15 minutes every hour. However, this is not accurate.
Professor Jack Callaghan from the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo conducted his own research on this topic. He found out that the perfect standing to sitting ratio is actually between 1:1 and 3:1. So if you work for 8 hours a day, you could be spending 4-6 hours on your feet.
That said, you shouldn’t try to stand for 4 hours straight, and then sit for the next 4 hours. That wouldn’t be healthy. Callaghan’s research shows that many will develop lower back pain after standing for two consecutive hours.
This is why you should opt for hour-long segments. Divide the hour according to the ratios provided. Simply put, you could stand for 30 minutes and then spend the next half an hour sitting. Anything up to 45 minutes of standing and 15 minutes of sitting goes. According to Callaghan, using these ratios is the best way to get all those great health benefits.
Find out what works for you
So, which ratio should you go for? Should you do 1:1, or 3:1? How about 2:1? Which one is the best option?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this, unfortunately. Every person is different. The perfect ratio is a range because you need to find out what works for you. Factors such as age, body type, job function, and overall health all play a part in how long you should stand for.
If you’re someone who is very used to their sedentary lifestyle, you might find it difficult to stand for longer than half an hour at first. Your feet and legs might hurt at first. That’s ok. No matter who you are, it’s probably a good idea to start slow at first. Try the 1:1 ratio and see how you feel.
Does it feel right? Or do you think you could bear standing for a bit longer? Maybe you can do a whole week using the 1:1 ratio, and then try 2:1 next week. Or maybe you’ll just want to dive straight in and give 3:1 a go. It’s all up to you.
Experiment with this for a bit. Have fun discovering what your body does and does not like. You’ll figure out what works best for you eventually.
It’s important to remember that we’re all different, and it isn’t a competition. Using a standing desk can improve your well-being. Don’t get caught up in trying to maximize the benefits at all costs. Standing for too long could be just as harmful as sitting for too long. If you can’t do 45 minutes, do 30. Or 40. It doesn’t matter, as long as you feel that it’s right for you. Balance is everything.
Make sure that you have a good standing or office desk. Getting a good desk is crucial. If you are short on budget, you can always create your own DIY corner desk.