So, let’s say that a couple of months ago you bought yourself a standing desk. It sounded like a really good idea when you got it. Perhaps you wanted it to help you stay fit, or else you wanted to improve your posture, or maybe you just got it so you could pace about while we’re working. You set it up and, at first, it seemed great, you were standing up straighter, you felt healthier, and it just looked so nice in your office.
Then, after a couple of hours, it hit you. You were slumping forwards, your back hurt, your legs felt tired, and, as much as you wanted to be concentrating on the work in front of you, you couldn’t escape the thought of just sitting down. So, you lowered it to a standard desk height, and ever since then your standing desk has just been your desk.
If this is you then don’t panic! You haven’t wasted your money. A standing desk can work for you, you just need to change the way you use it.
Tempting though it can be, there’s very little benefit in forcing yourself to stand up all day long. According to experts, the best approach to using your standing desk is to regularly change positions, burning extra calories as you do so.
Exactly how often you change position is up to you, but it’s best to swap back and forth regularly throughout the working day. The more often you switch position, the more calories you burn, but switching too often could be distracting to your workflow. Every half hour or so is considered optimum but ultimately you’ll have to find the balance that’s best for you.
Of course, not all standing desks are the same. Another factor to consider when deciding on your stand/sit ratio is how difficult your desk is to readjust. If you’re still shopping around, or if you’re considering replacing your standing desk with one more suited to your needs, then the best thing you can look for is memory settings. Switching positions without memory settings can be a real hassle and that means you’ll be more likely to spend long periods standing up or sitting down.
If you’re struggling to remember when to swap then you can keep a timer on your phone until you get into the habit.
That’s all well and good if your standing desk does have memory settings, but what if it doesn’t?
Well, even if it’s inconvenient, it’s still best to change position at least once or twice a day. If the thought of that leaves you worrying about spending four hours at a time on your feet then there are things you can do to help you get through those long hours.
The first thing to consider is your feet themselves. For the comfort of your back, it’s best to make sure you’ve got both feet flat on the ground with your weight centered. Give some thought to your footwear. A decent pair of shoes can make a big difference in how you stand. After all, support is very important for good posture and you’ll get the best support from well-balanced shoes with a small heel.
Alternatively, you could think about going without shoes altogether. A pair of comfortable socks and a mat to stand on can make for a nice surface. It’s always good to eliminate any distractions or irritations from your working environment but, as with a lot of these things, you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you.
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Ultimately, the best standing to sitting ratio is something you’re going to have to decide for yourself. There’s no perfect formula and it depends a lot on the other factors of your approach to work.
You could always take a more free-form approach to the problem. Why not start your day with standing and just sit down when you feel uncomfortable? If you start to feel lethargic, just stand back up again.
Standing desks are a great way to burn off a few extra calories throughout your workday and while it might not seem like it right now, it won’t take long for you to get used to a new routine. Just make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit back down in!