How To Use A Stand-Up Desk: 12 Steps

by Adam Trouncer - 1 year ago

You may find the question silly: how to use a stand-up desk? After all, isn’t it self-evident? But there are actually a few tips and tricks to using a stand-up desk to its full advantage.

The motivation: an increased risk of breast and colon cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic back and neck pain – these are just some of the frightening risks associated with sedentary jobs or “desk jobs”, occupied by millions of Americans.

Of course, this is not new information. However, a new study led by Dr. Timothy Church has revealed alarming updated statistics that show just how much of an impact these desk jobs are having on the obesity epidemic in the U.S.

“In 1960, 1 out of 2 Americans had a job that was essentially exercise,” he told “That’s plummeted. Now, conservatively, it’s less than 20%.”

As the problem worsens, more and more companies across the country are beginning to tune into a possible solution: the stand-up desk.

In fact, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management, stand-up desks are now the fastest growing employee benefit in U.S. workplaces, with 44 percent of companies now either providing or subsidizing the use of standing desks. In 2013, this figure was a mere 13 percent.

In 2017, reported that a stand-up desk can help burn an additional 170 calories per day, or 1000 per week, whittling down our waistlines and working towards reversing the obesity problem.

But that’s not all: stand-up desks are also said to boost mood and energy, reduce back pain, and even help you live longer.

What does the company get out of this investment in employee wellbeing? Well, happier, healthier employees are good for business in more ways than one: they contribute to a better company culture; productivity is improved; and customers notice the positive difference in service levels too.

If you’ve acquired a standing desk or are wondering how to use a stand-up desk, the following tips will help you. That way, you can maximize its benefits!

Standup @itsalexpeterson desk computer


Prepare Your Stand-Up Desk Correctly

How many times have you returned home after a long day of work, complaining of a sore neck or tight shoulders? A stand-up desk could be the answer to your repeat posture problems – provided you set it up correctly.

Adjust the height of the desk so your forearms are parallel to the floor and wrists are relaxed at all times, whether you are typing or using the mouse. Your monitor should also be positioned directly in front of you at eye level, and approximately arms’ length away.

We also recommend an adjustable monitor arm, so you can continually reposition your screen, depending on whether you’re sitting, standing, or (accidentally) slouching!

Practice Perfect Posture

Speaking of slouching, a standing desk can be a great way to finally correct your less-than-perfect posture, but it’s crucial to get into the habit of good form from the very beginning.

If you’ve set your desk up as above, most of the hard work is done for you, but there are still a few key points to keep in mind. Be sure to stand with your feet hip-width apart and facing straight towards the desk, so you are transferring your weight evenly.

Alternatively, you can stand in a “tandem stance” with one foot in front of the other, so you can transfer your weight between the front and back foot. Always keep your shoulders back and down and look straight ahead to maintain the natural curvature of your back, too.

Standup @getcubefit footrest


Use A laptop? Raise It…

If you’re like many professionals, preferring to use a laptop over a desktop, your screen might be below eye level, even when your stand-up desk is extended to its maximum height.

Do yourself a favor and raise your laptop to eye level. Use a Yellow Pages or a copy of War and Peace if necessary but don’t end up looking down at your screen. Otherwise, you may experience the same posture problems as when you were sitting all the time.

Use A Gel Or Anti-Fatigue Mat

While standing desks are praised for their health advantages, the obvious fact that you’re standing all day long means more pressure on your hips, knees and ankles than your standard seated desk.

To combat this, simply put a gel or anti-fatigue mat where you’ll be standing. Your joints will thank you!

Try Arm Supports

If you have problems with your arms and wrists, consider using arm supports. Some people especially suffer due to the repetitive action of operating the mouse.

Arm supports are soft pads that attach to a stand-up desk, designed to reduce pressure on the wrists and potentially relieve the repetitive strain on them. They may also help to relieve neck and shoulder problems.

Wear Supportive Shoes

For hospitality, retail, medical or other staff that are on their feet all day, the right shoes are a must. To really take care of your joints and avoid sore soles at the end of the day, you’ll also need the right shoes if you’re standing to work. Take it up a notch by pairing your gel mat with comfortable shoes that feature arch and ankle support.

Standup @urban massage stretch


Do Simple Exercises Throughout The Day

It might sound silly, but incorporating a simple exercise routine into your day can refresh your body and mind, reset your posture, support your joints and improve blood flow.

Choose a few points across your day – mid-morning, lunch and afternoon perhaps – and do as many air squats or lunges as you can, followed by wrist and ankle rolls for circulation, and a neck and back stretch.

Use A Footstall

You should naturally change your standing position regularly at your stand-up desk. However, if you find yourself standing in one position for too long, this may exert undue pressure on your hips, ankles, and knees.

A footstall is a ‘prop’ that may help to adjust your standing position throughout the day. This doesn’t have to be an expensive ergonomic item; just use a cardboard box if you don’t have a footstall – really anything that you can use to shift your weight from one leg to another from time to time.

Ideally, you will be moving a lot while standing (much of this will be subconscious).


Alternate Between Sitting And Standing

You’re probably wondering, “But won’t I get tired standing in the same spot all day long?” Well, you’re right! A standing desk is not intended to be used for prolonged periods of time (just like a sedentary desk).

While prolonged sitting causes physical stress on the same areas repeatedly, a standing desk allows for physical stress to occupy different areas of the body, sharing the load – but it’s even better if you can alternate the two.

Aim to sit or stand for two hours, and then switch it up.

Slowly Build Up Your Standing Time

It’s important to note that if you’re completely new to a standing desk, you shouldn’t attempt to go from zero to hero overnight.

Start slow, standing for 20 minutes at a time, and add more time as you get more comfortable with it.

While you might be keen to start reaping the benefits of a stand-up desk, you also don’t want to shock or strain your body by going too hard, too fast.

Take Regular Breaks

Even when you’re used to your new desk, remember to take breaks and walk away from your desk every 30 or 40 minutes: it will do your posture and your mind good to refocus on something else for a few minutes.

If you find yourself forgetting to break, why not install a reminder app on your computer so that it pings you throughout the day. Or, for those of you who love technology, try a wearable wristband that monitors the amount of steps you take.  This will motivate you to walk away from your desk more frequently.

Take Care With Your Coffee!

There’s no escaping the fact that stand-up desks can create a problem if you have a tendency to be a little clumsy!

You know the score: early morning, a little bleary-eyed, and a cup of hot coffee. This is a potentially disastrous combination!

Stand-up desks mean a long way for coffee to fall – and some are designed with a smaller surface area than standard desks – so take extra care with your hot brews!

Remember: Standing Doesn’t Replace Exercise

Stand-up desks have many benefits – no question! But… and there is a but… they are not the same as a workout.

Being less sedentary should have multiple pluses for your general long-term health but you still need to increase your heart rate regularly for at least 20 minutes at a time to reap the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Regular aerobic exercise has significant benefits for the heart, blood pressure, weight-loss, diabetes, and aging, as well as many positive mental benefits, including reduction in anxiety, depression, and stress.

So, if you manage to get yourself into a standing position more, be sure to pat yourself on the back. But don’t expect to suddenly become fitter!

For that, you’ll need to incorporate a brisk walk, run, or trip to the gym four or five times a week: or simply do whatever form of exercise you prefer to raise your heart rate. The daily health benefits of standing and exercising aerobically are a winning combination.

Do you use a standing desk at work? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below with your top tip for getting the most out of it, or share your experiences on the #GreensTeam Facebook community!