Ups and Downs of Sitting and Standing
Alternating between sitting and standing throughout the workday has a positive impact on our physical and emotional energy and moods. It’s important to know that even small amounts of standing, stretching and walking during the day can have a positive impact – even one hour of reduced sitting time during a workday provides benefits. The goal is to break up long periods of sedentary sitting, not to eliminate sitting.
Don’t replace prolonged sitting with prolonged standing! The risks of prolonged standing are well established and it’s important that in the move to increase standing time these risks are not overlooked. Sit/stand workstations should be used to provide a way for workers to periodically vary their position throughout the day, not to simply stand to work.
How much standing is desirable?
It’s important to start off gradually and always let your comfort be your guide. Gradually work up to sitting for 30 minutes and then standing for 30 minutes. Week one might be standing only 10 minutes of each hour, with week two standing 15 minutes every hour. There are no set guidelines so the key to remember is to MOVE and change positions often with the goal of working up to 4 hours of standing per day.
How to adjust a sit/stand workstation
Proper ergonomic set up of your sit/stand workstation follows similar recommendations as a seated workstation, only without the chair when standing. Use the following guidelines and understand that these are general guidelines and that each individual, based on size, body type, and vision, will need to adjust their sit/stand workstation accordingly.
- Workstation Height: Standing workstation height involves working at your keyboard with your elbows level to or slightly below the spacebar of your keyboard. The keyboard should be relatively flat and allow for the elbows to be approximately level with the space bar.
- Keyboard and Mouse: Proper position of keyboard and mouse will allow the user to maintain a straight or “neutral position” with hands and wrists so that they are not angled significantly. Recommendations are the same whether the keyboard is on a standing table or with the tray.
- Mouse: The mouse should be positioned close to and at the same level as the keyboard. Hand and wrist position should be neutral here as well.
- Monitor: Position of the monitor position is dependent on the height and vision of the user. Adjust as follows:
- Placement: The monitor should be placed directly in front of the user. If using dual monitors, decide which is your primary monitor and place the primary directly in front of you with the secondary to the side. If you use dual monitors equally, set them in front of you with their sides touching in line with your nose and at the same height.
- Height: Typical monitor height is where the top of the monitor is approximately at eye level. This will vary based on user’s vision and/or use of corrective lenses. With bifocals, the monitor is lowered towards the desktop. If you feel your chin angling up to view your screen, the monitor is too high for your bifocals.
In addition, all cables should be able to move easily when the work surface is adjusted. Be sure you identify where the best height would be for you and mark it. That makes it quicker to adjust each time or note the number setting.
Give yourself plenty of time to adapt into a habit of sitting and standing. Habits aren’t formed overnight, and it sometimes helps to have a standing buddy to encourage one another. You may also want to try:
- Goal setting, like reducing sitting by one hour each day
- Timers that remind employees to switch positions
- Wearable devices with settings to remind you to stand
- Daily stretch breaks that employees do together