To sit or to stand, that is the question. With the risks of a sedentary lifestyle being well-known, office workers are turning to ergonomic workspace solutions in order to care for their physical and mental wellbeing on the job. While standing desks have become increasingly popular, there remains the question of what is the best ratio of sitting to standing at work? While standing workstations have demonstrated benefits for back pain, muscle tension, and productivity, standing in one position all day long can be just as detrimental as sitting for 8 hours. The solution? A happy balance between the two, and we’re going to tell you exactly what that balance looks like.
The Healthiest Sit to Stand Ratio
While sitting on an office chair while working has become the modern office boogeyman, standing for long periods of time in the same position comes with its own set of side effects. Standing for over 6 hours a day can lead to varicose veins, leg and hip tension, as well as back pain. A comfortable office worker is a happy and more productive office worker, so what is the ideal sit stand ratio?
A 2015 study conducted by Jack Callaghan, a Kinesiology professor at the University of Waterloo, found that the ideal ratio for sitting to standing lies between 1:1 and 1:3. This means that within any given hour, you should be standing for 30 to 45 minutes, and only sitting for 30 to 15 minutes. Preliminary research suggests that this is the ideal ratio to reap the benefits of standing without encountering the negative side effects.
How to Use a Standing Desk
Proper posture is key to getting the most out of your standing minutes. Here are a few tips to ensure your standing desk is set up correctly for you.
- Your hands, wrists, and forearms should be straight and parallel to the floor.
- Your head should be in line with your torso, with your monitor at eye level to avoid any bending or straining at the neck.
- Spine must be upright with shoulders and arms relaxed.
- Consider using a cushioned mat or wearing shoes with insoles to reduce pressure on your feet and legs.
How to Sit Ergonomically
Posture is equally important to keep in mind when you’re sitting at your desk in order to reduce pressure points and avoid straining the hips, back, or neck.
- Invest in an ergonomic chair with a high backrest and lumbar support to maintain the natural curvature of the spine.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Your monitor should be set up at eye level so that your head remains in line with your spine.
- Keep your keyboard and mouse within a comfortable reach that leaves your shoulders relaxed and arms loosely parallel to the floor.
Tips for Staying Active During the Workday
Now that you’re armed with the perfect ergonomic set up, and ideal sitting to standing ratio, you may think there’s nothing more to worry about. Wrong! While changing positions throughout the day and proper ergonomics are important, the number one way to prevent injury and chronic pain in the office remains to be movement. The best way to combat pain from office work is to move before it starts. Change positions and shift your weight frequently while you’re standing and take breaks to get up, stretch, and take a stroll when you are sitting.
Strain and injury from repeat movements is one of the most common workplace injuries. Here are a few tips to reduce your risk.
- Vary your work tasks. Take breaks from repetitive movements like keyboarding by doing other duties that require you to move around or get away from your desk.
- Take screen breaks by looking away from your monitor and focusing on an object that’s farther away to reduce eye strain.
- Take regular breaks to relax your limbs, change up your position, and stretch your muscles.
- Find opportunities to stay active. Go to your co-worker’s office rather than calling them on the phone. Choose the stairs over the elevator, and park farther away when you arrive to work in the morning. If possible, taking a walk on your lunch break is another great way to incorporate exercise into your workday.
It seems we always return to the age-old-adage of everything in moderation. Beating the drawbacks of a sedentary lifestyle is all about switching up your working position during the day and finding ways to implement movement into your routine. By negotiating a healthy 1:1 to 1:3 ratio between time spent sitting and standing, you can reduce the risks associated with inactivity to stay healthy and productive at your desk. Getting a sit-stand desk can be expensive but there are often offers available like the back to school sale which normally happens during the end of the summer. Take advantage of these offers and get your desk today.