Frequently Asked Questions for Standing Workstations

In the vast landscape of popular music, there is a long, humorous, and sometimes confusing history of misunderstood lyrics. Elton John (“Hold me closer Tony Danza…”) and Jimi Hendrix (“Excuse me, while I kiss this guy…”) are just a few of the most well-known examples of this phenomenon, known as ‘mondegreen.’ But while there are many more instances of this, there was no confusing the lyrics in R.E.M’s classic ‘Stand,’ when they sang, “Stand in the place where you work…” although the link to corporate wellness is somewhat less clear.

So while we don’t know the band’s exact thoughts on standing desks and flexible workstations, we do know that it’s generally accepted that standing at work is better than sitting all day. With that in mind, there are three general questions that are frequently asked when it comes to standing:

  • What kind of workstation should I get?
  • How long should I stand during the day?
  • If I can’t stand, what are some exercises or movements I can do to offset the effects of sitting for most of the day?

Less frequently asked, but still relevant now that you have all of these songs stuck in your head, is where to get headphones long enough to reach your ears while you stand and work. Perhaps that will be the subject of another blog post.

But for answers to those first three questions, it’s a good thing you clicked on this post, because you’re in luck. Along with some recent articles, we’re going to attempt to answer those questions for you. If you’re sitting down to read this, you may want to stand up. And if you’re standing already, you’re one step ahead of the game.

What Kind of Standing Workstation Should I Get?

There is a wide variety, from the homemade to the high end. The Well Blog at the New York Times recently took an in-depth look at many varieties of standing desks and flexible workstations, including some that monitor your movements, track calories, and offer reminders that you should stand during the day. The writer tested numerous types of standing desks, and included an important statistic for anyone considering one: about 70 percent of people who buy a sit-stand desk don’t move it out of the ‘sit’ position once the novelty wears off, so be sure to make a commitment to standing during the day. According to the writer, that’s the beauty of the desks that offer the friendly reminder to stand throughout the day – it automatically encourages the user do it.

How Long Should I Stand During the Day?photo1(8)

Prolonged sitting isn’t healthy, for a variety of reasons, so many people have chosen to stand throughout the workday. But being on your feet for the whole day can seem like a daunting task, leading to the question of the optimal amount of time to stand each day. And the answer is….at least two hours, ideally working your way up to four, according to Outside Magazine’s Fitness Coach and recent research from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. And, as the article says, the two to four hours don’t have to be done all at the same time – one suggestion is to break up continuous sitting with a few minutes of standing and moving every hour or so. Grab some water, take a quick stroll outside, or walk to a coworker’s desk to chat about the latest episode of ‘The Bachelorette’ (a personal favorite of mine).

I Can’t Stand to Sit, but I also Can’t Stand at Work – How Do I Offset the Effects of Sitting?

As mentioned above, movement breaks are a great way to counteract the effects of sitting – they can help with circulation and mobility and also relieve tightness that comes from staying seated. And if you don’t have a desk that reminds you to stand, there are, of course, apps for that. A recent article from Runner’s World details different apps to choose from, as well as a variety of moves to do in and around your office to break up long stretches of sitting, particularly in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon timeframes.

So there you have it – get yourself a flexible workstation and work your way up to two to four hours of standing each day. If you can’t get a standing desk, there are plenty of exercises you can do during movement breaks throughout the day. And when all else fails, try to work in some happy hour sweatworking with your colleagues.


Have any interesting or innovative steps (pun intended) you or your company takes to stay active at work? Drop us a line on the Active RVA Facebook page and let us know!