Standing at work: it is quite common that sitting for too long is not healthy. But many office jobs still don’t offer the possibility to stand during work. At this point a change in mindset is required in order to make full use of the benefits and avoid problems involving sitting for too long.

What are problems involving sitting at work?

Sedentary behaviour at the workplace often results in common secondary diseases. Most common are musculoskeletal disorders. Employees suffer from back, as well as neck and shoulder pain.

It may cause tensions and inflammation of the muscles. Frequently, it leads to intervertebral disc problems. It is created by a long-term sitting posture and the relating lack of movement. The strain is only one-sided. Furthermore, there are many more diseases common in the workplace that can be led back to a overstrain.

Damages at arms, fingers, or hands are possible. Some further typical illnesses are the carpal tunnel syndrome, having problems with the eyes, headache, a loss of concentration, as well as mental problems and cardiovascular diseases.

Sitting for a long time also has a negative effect on the digestive system. The gastrointestinal tract slows down, and the metabolism is affected negatively. This, at the same time, has a negative effect on the immune system. The plasma lipid concentrations increase as well as the risk of thrombosis.

Studies have even shown that people who tend to sit long, die earlier. Anyone who sits for less than three hours a day can increase their life expectancy by two years.

This is the result of the study of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.

Studies from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey also revealed that the death rate of men increases by 20% if they sit for minimum six hours a day. For women the rate even rises by 40%.

Here it is important to take effective countermeasures. Germans sit 7 and a half hours a day on average. In one’s working lifetime a German office employee actually sits for 80.000 hours on average.

Additional is the time spending sitting while being not at work. For adults there are 11,5 hours daily on average. According to recommendations, you should change your sitting position every 10-15 minutes. Besides that, most effective is standing at work.

Standing at work: advantages

A standing desk has a lot of advantages.

A standing desk has a lot of advantages.

Standing while working involves many advantages. Principally, it is bad for the human body staying in certain postures over a long period of time monotonously. The human body is not constructed for sitting long. The whole body movement is aligned to movement.

Anyone who sits for a long period of time, strains his back, neck, and shoulders extremely. Sitting that long also effects the circulation in a negative way due to the blood slumping down. This can cause swelling and problems with the discs.

One solution for that is standing at work. Therefore, the back and neck get relieved, so do the legs. Anyone who doesn’t stand on one fixed spot but rather moves at the same time, boosts its circulation too. The muscles used for expiration get activated. This hereinafter increases the ability to concentrate as well as strengthens the mental skills.

Standing at work influences breathing too. Because while standing you are able to take deeper breaths which in turn leads to an optimized breathing. The body is stretched and not bend, so there is enough room for the air breathed. The improved supply with oxygen is good for the mental health inter alia. Efficient thinking will be improved, and difficulties overcome much easier.

Standing at work – appropriate or not? 2

Office desk with a control panel to adjust the height – perfect for standing while working

All in all, standing at work means a more lively and natural posture. It may give the working life a fresh impetus. On top of that, you will burn more calories. Muscles will be built up and activated newly. Working in a standing position as well prevents increasing weight. Someone who stands, burns circa 40 kcal more per hour as someone who is sitting.

If adding this up over the course of a whole day at work or even a week, this means burning clearly much more calories. Thanks to the improved circulation, you will be in a good mood too.

If working among colleagues standing too, the communication will be encouraged. Anyone who stands at work, may also feel a change in their voice. The posture ensures acting more self-confident and exuding competence. Conversations will benefit from a new dynamic.

Legs will be relieved due to being not bend permanently. All in all, the free space to move is greater, so working becomes more active. By standing at work, the creativity gets boosted. One reason for that among others is the increased circulation.

For someone who is already standing, it might be easier to move further on. People are less restricted and therefore strolling around might ensure an injection of creativity.

Summary – advantages of standing at work

Here we have summarised the advantages of working in a standing position:

  • Relieve of the back and neck
  • Relief of the legs
  • Boosting the circulation
  • Strengthening concentration and mental skills
  • Improved and deep breathing
  • Burning more calories while standing (circa 40 kcal per hour)
  • Improved supply of blood
  • Acting more self-confident due to an upright posture
  • Standing at work also boosts creativity

Which kind of tools make standing at work easier?

Höhenverstellbare Schreibtische

Two height-adjustable office desks – one of them is moved out to the height of standing.

In order to put standing at work into practice correctly, certain tools are needed. Most important here is to make use of a height-adjustable desk which you can adjust to the appropriate height while working.

Adjustable desks as well provide the opportunity to vary between standing and sitting at work. There are quite a lot of variations of office desks. Another option frequently used are standing desks.


There are also top sections with which you can extend a classic office desk. Additionally, you should consider having a soft ground and suitable footwear.

What are the common mistakes made when switching to working in a standing position?

Of course, standing at work requires some time to get used to too. Therefore, you should take it slow and don’t stand the whole day at work right away. It is important standing in a relaxed posture and don’t getting tensed too bad.

Your shoulders should not be pulled up. Besides that, it is important to adjust the desk to the appropriate height. It is reached when forearms are laying relaxed on the tabletop. If it is adjusted too high, tensions in the neck and shoulders may occur.

But if the tabletop is adjusted too low, one quickly falls into a hunched posture. The back should always be straight and stretched out. Wearing the right shoes is also essential. They should be comfortable and have a low heel. A protective floor mat or carpet can also provide relief. Because a floor that is too hard has a negative effect on standing for long periods of time.

In addition, you should not stand too stiffly, but always keep moving a bit. It is also important to take regular breaks. They allow the body to relax properly. As soon as standing for a long time becomes very strenuous, you should change back to a sitting position.

Also, care should be taken for people who are overweight. Here, one should discuss the exact modalities of standing with a doctor. In this case, standing for long periods of time can put a lot of strain on the knees.

How does standing at work affect motivation and productivity?

Work while standing can have a very positive effect on productivity and motivation. Deeper and more intense breathing increases one’ s focus. The circulation is stimulated, and the greater range of movement supports productive work. People who move are also more motivated.

Sitting for long periods can make you lazy and sluggish. When standing, more muscles are actively involved. Therefore, the brain is stimulated to coordinate the muscles. A slight stress level is created which can have a positive effect on productivity.

What are disadvantages of standing at work?

It is important to carry out the standing activity correctly. Otherwise, discomfort can occur. Problems with muscles and joints, feelings of fatigue as well as circulatory problems, varicose veins or back pain are possible. The sense of well-being can be affected if practised incorrectly.

You may experience a feeling of burning in the hips or back. The feet can also start to hurt. Studies also revealed that heart disease can develop from standing for long periods of time. Incorrect footwear or an incorrect desk height can further promote possible negative symptoms.

Therefore, the change to work while standing should be made as slowly and gradually as possible.


The post "Standing at work – appropriate or not?" written by:

Sophie Voigtländer

Expertin für Bürogestaltung und Ergonomie

Sophie joined deskonia at the beginning of 2021. Since then, she is mainly responsible for translating all kinds of texts into English.

She studied International Communication and Translation.

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