How to Transition to a Standing Desk

Imagine, for example, that you wanted to take up running. Could you simply lace up your shoes and run 3.1 nonstop miles on the first try? For most people, the answer is no. If they could, there’d be no such thing as a “couch to 5k” training plan. In other words, to do something that places unfamiliar physical demands on the body, people generally need to start small and slowly work up to their goal.


The same holds true with using a standing desk. Sure, you could buy a stand up desk, set it up, and toss your chair in a dumpster. But chances are, a few hours into your workday, you’ll be wanting to fish your chair out of the trash.


While standing at your desk is not as physically demanding as activities like running, yoga, or weightlifting, it does take some getting used to…and therefore requires an adjustment period. But trust us, once you make the transition to a standing desk, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one!


The purpose of this article is to show you how to use a standing desk properly when you’ve never used one before. The idea is to slowly work up to your ideal sit/stand ratio, so you can enjoy the maximum benefits of standing desks.


How to Properly Use a Standing Desk When You’re Just Starting Out


1. Optimize Your Ergonomics

Before you get started, it’s important to know how to set up a standing desk. Improper adjustment can lead to pain and premature fatigue. An ergonomically-sound setup, conversely, will be more comfortable and help you to stand longer. Check out our Guide to Better Posture Guide to Better Posture for setup tips.


2. Cushion Your Feet

Over time, hard floors can lead to soreness and fatigue. An anti-fatigue standing desk mat provides cushioned support that helps you stand more comfortably, and for longer. Also make a habit of wearing comfortable and supportive shoes when standing at your desk.


3. Start Slow

If you’re used to sitting in a chair all day, you’ll likely find it uncomfortable to abruptly switch to standing all the time. Instead, set a timer that reminds you to stand for just a minute or two every hour. Don’t stand for more than five minutes per hour in the first week, but make sure you stand at least once every hour so you can begin to develop good habits.


4. Gradually Ramp Up Over Time

With each passing week, increase your standing time in small increments. For example, if you stood for five minutes per hour in the first week, try seven minutes per hour on the second week. Again, the goal is to slowly build healthy habits over time.


5. Build Toward Your Ideal Sit/Stand Ratio

As we’ve outlined in previous blog articles, the end goal isn’t to stand all day, it’s to achieve an ideal balance of sitting and standing. This is because studies have shown that movement is healthy while remaining stagnant in one position is harmful. In other words, a lot of the benefit comes from your transitions between sitting and standing. For people under 40 years old, experts generally recommend roughly 30 minutes of standing per hour. For people over 40, experts recommend about 24 minutes of standing per hour. To find your ideal sit/stand ratio, also factor in your level of fitness and personal preferences. Once you’ve set your goal, keep it in mind as you slowly increase you stand time each week.


6. Transition Between Sitting and Standing as Much as You Like

And as we mentioned earlier, sit to stand transitions are good for you. You want to transition a minimum of once every hour, but if you prefer switching your position every 25, 20, or even 15 minutes, go for it!


We hope these tips and tricks make your switch to a standing desk seamless, enjoyable, and rewarding!