How-to Guide: Standing at Work

Besides stuff like tribal warfare, cannibalism, and high infant mortality, it seems like most any divergence from our ancestral norms is ultimately detrimental, or at least problematic. Nutrition is an obvious one, along with sunlight, sleep, and exercise. The mainstream media is even beginning to question the superiority of modern footwear. And then there’s the seemingly simple act of sitting down in a chair. It seems harmless, but as I discussed last year and a recent NY Times piece mentioned last month, sitting for extended periods of time is strongly linked with increased mortality and metabolic syndrome, regardless of how much exercise a sitter gets.

The chair is a bit like wheat, actually: a relative novelty to which we aren’t physiologically adapted that has become a cultural staple nonetheless. For at least eight hours each day, we twist our bodies into weird Tetris blocks with poor posture and sit, for the most part unmoving, on chairs. When you stop and think about it, sitting down in a chair for extended periods of time seems a little silly. I mean, it’s not even all that comfortable (isn’t that why we distort our bodies with terrible posture – to make sitting more comfortable?). We aren’t “designed” to sit in chairs. We’re certainly meant to stand, but we sit in chairs because we designed them to fit our anatomy, and I somehow doubt that whoever came up with the chair was thinking about long-term effects on our physiology.

Acutely, sitting weakens our muscles, especially in the legs and the hips. When you sit, your glutes are totally inactive. They aren’t being used. They’re stretched out. It’s just one big static stretch, all day long, which weakens them. Strong, engaged glutes are required for effective, natural movement. Running, walking, lifting weights – if you’re doing any of this with weak, inactive glutes from excessive sitting, you’re an injury waiting to happen. Sitting also causes permanent hip flexion. It shortens your hip flexors and makes them tight. Without good hip mobility and strength, your ability to perform the compound lower body lifts, let alone just walk around and perform day-to-day motions, is going to be severely compromised.

Besides, is sitting really all that comfortable? What are we trying to avoid here, really?

Most people just don’t know any better. Sitting down is part of our culture. Try going on a first date at a nice restaurant and waving off the chair. Try being that weird guy that stands in the movie theater, or that chronically unemployed applicant who refuses to sit down for the job interview. That guy is weird because he’s rare; he doesn’t even really exist. Sitting down is about the most uncontroversial societal expectation out there. You could have massive drag-out verbal fights over tipping or saying “bless you” or holding the door open for people, but sitting down in a chair has the wind of consensus at its back.

Which is why lobbying your boss for a stand-up workstation might be tricky, perhaps trickier even than convincing management to let you nap on the job. There’s nothing particularly objectionable about standing – it probably comes off as a bit weird or wacky – but it does require structural changes to your workstation, and changes can be expensive or time-consuming. Many of the larger companies have ergonomics teams dedicated to helping employees sit and work well. Asking them for assistance might work, but whatever you do a new desk is going to be installed and feathers will be ruffled. Sure, if they’re going to ask you to work a full day at a computer, they probably owe it to you to provide a standing workstation, but it’s not a perfect world. People will see your fancy new standing workstation as an extravagance.

“Why can’t he just sit/eat normal food/wear shoes like everyone else?”

If your boss offers resistance, you have a couple options. First, bring the data. Send an email, print out copies, whatever – just create a compendium of powerful references showing the dangers of sitting for hours on end. I’ve thrown a little something together for just such an endeavor:

Australian study (PDF) reveals sedentarism/sitting at work leads to more sitting at home, and eventually obesity. You want a healthy, vibrant workforce, don’t you?

New Zealand study shows that workers who sat for long periods of time were more likely to get deep vein thrombosis.

Excessive sitting was linked to negative metabolic and cardiovascular effects in another study.

One doctor even compared sitting to smoking cigarettes in terms of negative health effects.

Here’s that NY Times piece once again.

To round everything up, healthy employees are productive employees. Healthier employees incur lower health care costs. They miss fewer workdays. They work better, harder, and smarter when they’re at work. And workers with standing workstations are more energetic and more focused (no crippling back pain to worry about). They also take fewer breaks than sitters (PDF), which, once again, leads to greater productivity.

If your boss seems amenable, and you’re feeling cocky, slip in this final link.

Still, jobs are scarce, and employees hold few real bargaining chips these days. Your boss or your department may still balk at any additional short-term costs, even in the face of all that evidence. If that’s the case, I suggest you take matters into your own hands. Build your own. Even if your company won’t spring for a standing workstation conversion, I doubt they’ll complain if you handle it yourself.

A standing workstation doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to work.

When I work from home, for example, and I feel like standing, I just put my laptop on a stack of hardcovers sitting on the counter.

If you like to work out of cafes, you’re in luck. I find that most people in coffee shops avoid the tall tables at all costs, instead opting for cushy chairs or plush sofas, so they’re generally available. Just push the tall chair aside and work standing. Tall café tables tend to be the perfect height for standing and working.

If you’re a laptop user at work, a bunch of books from the corporate library (no one reads those – c’mon) stacked up could work in a pinch.

You could spring for one of the official standing workstations in the link above, but that’s unnecessary. I’d recommend doing what this woman did and spend $20 to build your own. She essentially bought a light baker’s rack that fit on her desk, attached some no-slip shelf paper to the bottom of the laptop, and was done with it. If you have a desktop computer, you’re going to need more room, but you don’t really need a dedicated “standing workstation.” You simply need a reliable surface at the proper height.

Whatever method you choose, just make sure you’re actually comfortable working in the position. You shouldn’t be hunched over, bent at the waist, or straining with your arms to reach the workstation. You shouldn’t be leaning on the desk for support. Standing up to work is about comfort in addition to health, and you defeat the purpose if you have to strain to make it work. Before you buy anything, test out different workstation heights. Measure the one that works and keep that measurement handy when you’re shopping or building.

If I make standing to work seem like a panacea, I don’t mean to, because there are potential problems. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety caution against prolonged static standing, which can increase the chances of “sore feet, swelling of the legs, varicose veins, general muscular fatigue, lower back pain, and stiffness.” (Check your posture if that’s the case!) But the problem isn’t standing, really; it’s standing and never moving, which probably isn’t all that different from sitting and never moving (the symptoms of both are almost identical). I’m not worried about MDA readers being inactive while standing, though. You guys’ll probably be busting out random burpees and lunges in between TPS reports and video-conferences.

Anyone use a standing workstation currently? Got any tips for newbies looking to convert? Let everyone know in the comments section!

rKnight Flickr Photo (CC)
TAGS:  mobility

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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241 thoughts on “How-to Guide: Standing at Work”

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    1. Thanks, Mark! I work at home and normally sit at the computer all day. I don’t even have the excuse to go visit a colleague’s office. So as of one hour ago, I have placed my monitor, keyboard, and mouse on my largest books, and have created a stand-up work station.


    2. I have been using a file box on top of my desk for my laptop at work and it works just fine. The height seems just right for me. I also have an exercise ball to sit when I need to. I am now thinking of adding a bosu ball to stand on when I am standing at my desk. Any comments on what benefits or drawbacks that might have?

  1. I’m quite lucky I guess because my company uses, in almost all its locations, pretty state of the art desks that raise from a seated position to a standing one, together with all graduations inbetween. This was done for ergonomic reasons although its notable that I’d estimate that less than 20% of people ever use the desks in the stand position and even those who do (aside from me it sometimes seems) rarely do so for more than half an hour at a time.

    I use it standing a lot. Sometimes for entire days although this can be tiring. However I do find that it does have ergonomic risks attached. In the seated position we have had ergonomic risks drummed into us so much that we sit bolt upright, monitor at right height, keyboard in right position etc, all to minimise possiblity of discomfort. Standing, because it can be a bit tiring at times, you can have a tendency to slouch or lean on the desk at times. Its something to guard against.

    1. “Active Sitting” is like standing in that the spine is kept in the same position as standing. It is the spine that gets crunched when sitting in a normal desk/chair situation, cutting circulation, bulging disks, back pain. This is alleviated by a chair I designed called the Tilt Seat which slopes forward. Alternate standing with active sitting and you have the best of both worlds.

    1. Motorcycles! I can stand any time I want, just not for extended periods.

      Between the passenger footpegs and highway pegs, I can change position from almost lying on my belly to sitting, to standing to the Lay-Z-Boy posture. (I have a cruiser, BTW. Organ-donating “crotchrockets” won’t let you stand.)

      And after riding several hours, you feel like you’ve had a moderate workout, not like a car, where you feel like a, um, uh – like a piece of pasta! 🙂

  2. I actually started standing myself at work just last week due to another post where Mark mentioned the increased benefits and calories burned that would result.

    To create my own workstation, I’ve just used two empty boxes with a board propped across the top to provide me with a platform to use my keyboard and mouse, and the height works perfectly for typing etc. As for the monitors, I just tilted them up, so now I just look down at a slight angle (which I’ve heard is most natural) and I’m good.

    I’ve had a few people comment on it, and lend their support and also note they know others who are doing the same thing. Its for sure not common, but you are probably not going to be the first person someone knows if you do try this at work.

    1. I went out and found a closet-maid shoe shelf (called a 31″ stackable organizer) at wal-mart. I found it in the home improvement department, it has two shelves and is exactly the right height for my keyboard and mouse, and it cost $12. I have been standing at work for a week now and feel better and sleep better. If I need to sit down, the shoe shelf goes beside my desk, but I get more done standing.

  3. So what’s your best option if you really have no option to build a standing desk? Obviously, get up a lot, but anything else?

  4. Wow! I’d actually never even considered that sitting might be terrible. Where I work, we actually have tall chairs to sit on, because the workstation is high. I think I’ll switch to standing as soon as I’m done with my lunch break! Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. I just took some boxes and put my keyboard on them. I could not modify my work desk, but I could use boxes to put my keyboard and mouse at a good height.

  5. Pretty interesting post. But tbh standing for extended periods of time doesn’t sound comfortable at all. Might have something to do with my poor posture though.

    I have always wondered what would lying down most of the time do to your health? Sure your muscles don’t get activated (that’s where the breaks come in) but at least the posture should be natural and comfortable, right?

    I guess it would be very difficult to design a lying-down workstation though 🙂

    1. Actually, I have designed one. It is called an Eco Backrest and allows various positions from lounging to lying flat on your stomach like a salamander or like floating in the air. I like to stand most of the time but a little time working on the Eco Backrest in between standing helps incorporate movement into the work day and sort of incorporate part of the ‘hunter gatherer’ lifestyle into the office setting.

    2. Actually, there are solutions – not for average work environment, though.
      1. There are high end workstations with declining chairs (zero-gravity chair position), with twin adjustable monitors.
      2. Then there are custom made laying workstations for people with sitting disability (
      3. Laptop stand for use in bed (
      4. DIY PVC pipes laptop stand for programming in the bed for long hours, with Alpha-grip as keyboard, so you don’t have to keep forearms up all the time (
      5. Laying down post-operative setup for coccydynia (
      6. The cheaper solution, similar to (1), is 40″ LCD TV as monitor, desktop computer, wireless keyboard, and you may use either bed, sofa or gravity chair. Another version here (
      7. And for small spaces, in either reclining chairs or bed, limbed aluminum tubing laptop stand ( Too bad that it’s not available from US.

  6. “Besides stuff like…cannibalism…it seems like most any divergence from our ancestral norms is ultimately detrimental”

    Come on now, maybe there’s an inherent health benefit to this that’s being overlooked. Sounds pretty Primal to me.

    1. Logically, a healthy human should have all the nutrition a human needs. 🙂

  7. When I want to stand at work, I do this (the key is a wireless keyboard/mouse set):

    (1) Raise my adjustable monitors (all flat screen monitors nowadays seem to be adjustable)

    (2) Bring the box out from under my desk (nice black “leather” storage box from Winners, file-box size

    (3) Put my wireless keyboard and mouse on the box, stand up, et voila!

    One caution, though — I stood too enthusiastically for the first few weeks on concrete covering by thin industrial carpet and developed plantar fascitis. 🙁 The ideal would be a treadmill that fits under the desk so that one could walk slowly all day. With each step, the foot is able to relax, helping prevent PF (unlike with static standing, when it’s stretched in one position)

    1. The treadmill thing has been tried:
      “Get slim on the office treadmill” (from 2007)

      The article doesn’t say how many of the test subjects fell off, or whether the quality of their work suffered. Also, at the end of the article they mention in passing that “The desks cost £1,000 each.” So that might be a deterrent. 🙁

    2. There are other options for preventing foot problems while standing. I use a “Footsie Roller” which massages the feet-one foot at a time. It is basically a foot massage tool cylindrical shaped with groves. This is overall good for the whole body because the feet have pressure points. A Coke Bottle might work almost as well. Also I sometimes put round river rocks and stand on them–similar to Footsie Roller only more primitive. In winter I heat the rocks in a crock pot–crazy I know–and it heats the whole body through the feet. Hey–think of a Native American Sweat Lodge–pretty PRIMAL! I’ve been standing for several years now.

  8. Just this past January I was having a lot of back pain (due to a special/rare type of arthritis) and had recently read about standing workstations on another blog. Additionally, other coworkers recently acquired sit/stand stations that convert between the two modes with a button-push. I decided to give it a go and reconfigured my cubicle to the same effect by setting my monitor on a wall-mounted rail shelf and putting my keyboard an mouse on file boxes.

    I am standing at my desk as I write this post just under 3 months later. My boss has offered to send the ergonomics committee rep over for an evaluation for a “proper” station but I haven’t bothered. I haven’t busted out any burpees yet although I will often occasionally perform various standing balance exercises while reading. The one change I might make is cutting off a piece of an old yoga mat since my stocking feet don’t appreciate the flat hard surface (I take off my shoes while in my cubicle).

    1. I read somewhere else (Sorry I forgot the link) that while standing you need something that supports your arch. I’m not 100% sure this is needed, but I thought you might want to know.

  9. I am a nurse and I love the recent trend towards the standing workstation. Most of them adjust to sit or stand but I prefer to stand. It’s easier on my back and I’d just have to get back up in 30 seconds anyway.;)

  10. This post was a nice surprise for me, as I recently made the decision to get rid of my standard desks and build a bookshelf/desk designed for remaining upright while working. As a musician/songwriter/self-recording engineer and producer, I spend a lot of time hunched over at the computer or mixing console researching all kinds of things, typing out lyrics, uploading/editing videos, etc. No matter what I do, I experience a lot of shoulder tension, lower back aches and neck problems if I’m at the computer for too long. Since I can’t see any way around computer use itself, I got to thinking that I should create a standing workspace more akin to a laboratory than a cubicle. I’m also planning to buy some chalkboard paint and place idea bubbles around the room. Anyway, I’m just glad the concept of limiting chair use is becoming more widely considered, as I’m certain it’s one of the biggest compromisers of our structural integrity. Cheers, all!

  11. Another great article !Have you read Jane Clapp and Sarah Robichaud’s book Working on the Ball: A Simple Guide to Office Fitness?what do you think stability ball as an alternative?

  12. Do you have a link to the adjustable standing desk that you have in the image? That looks like a really nice one.

  13. I read that Vladimir Nabokov (who wrote the novels Lolita and Pale Fire) did a large portion of his writing while standing at a lectern. If it worked for one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century, it’s probably a good idea. Here’s a quote from Nabokov:
    “I generally start the day at a lovely old-fashioned lectern I have in my study. Later on, when I feel gravity nibbling at my calves, I settle down in a comfortable armchair alongside an ordinary writing desk; and finally, when gravity begins climbing up my spine, I lie down on a couch in a corner of my small study. It is a pleasant solar routine.”

  14. I hate sitting, especially at work in front of a computer! It is so uncomfortable and unnatural. I totally just snatched some file boxes off the ground, placed my keyboard and mouse on them, and raised my monitor. Awesome! Standing workstation, presto. Grok on!

  15. god, I absolutely hate sitting down at work. I’m a firefighter… everyone knows fire houses have recliners. I’m the only one who doesn’t use the recliner. There are these cheap metal frame chairs with padded cushions on the back and seat and a few office chairs that roll around. I am in school so I use my laptop a lot. I do sit, It bothers me because I have to sit. I would rather lay on the floor or a bed and do my work. I don’t sit for extended periods. I usually make myself get up and walk around or do some other activity.

  16. How true this post is! After a very long car and a week of 12 hour days sitting in a chair, I have had continual pain in my hip (groin) going on almost a year. Physical therapy helped but it still won’t go away. I make sure to stand and stretch every 30 minutes or so. The idea of standing all day sounds great.

    1. I have that same nagging hip/groin pain; for me, it’s my psoas. All the stretching and slow yin yoga in the world can’t get rid of it if I spend all day in a desk chair.

      I’m seriously considering a used treadmill for home and building a bootleg laptop shelf onto it (I work from home).

  17. Yes, I’m curious, too, about the idea of a stability ball. My brother-in-law with back problems uses one at work. Any thoughts?


    1. Sooze, I have been doing the stability ball thin for over 2 yrs now. I prefer it (for sitting). I can dance around or do crunches or whatever I want. At a different job I have one of those Gaiam chairs that is a ball on a rolling frame. That is my favourite chair ever. Because of what I do at that job, I end up standing most of my shift anyway. Back at the main job I’m rummaging in the storeroom for props to facilitate standing after reading this article 🙂

  18. Just worked this one out for myself last week too. Just popped my monitors on top of a huge stack of old papers and useless memos… and yeah, I’d probably get tired/sore from standing the whole time, but I’ve found that I’m either swaying or dancing to the music on my iPod at least 4 hours out of the day, so…. : )

  19. I think this is a timely article for me. I’m a print designer (graphic design for magazines) and I spend SOOO much time sitting down. I work from home so I am TOTALLY in control of this and have NO excuses for sitting on my bum all day!

    Thanks for this!

  20. Is there a way to loosen hip flexors? Standing actually kills my lower back. If I’m moving I’m fine but standing is torture. I do think my hips are tight though, maybe that’s the reason?

    1. There is a good stretch for hip flexors I like it, cross your let over the other so it’s ankle to thigh pointing your knee out to the side, and squat, I do this all the time. Dont push down on the knee though because you could injure yourself.
      I have never had a job where I sat down all day, I was a server and now a bank teller, so I dont know how it differs for me but standing in one place versus walking around is a big differnce I need high arch shoes and I need to stretch alot when I work.

  21. This is one of my favorite posts of yours ever. Once I started reading it, I moved my computer onto the counter where I am typing this right now!

  22. I have made a standing desk with tiling my iMac and putting the keyboard on a telescoping magician’s table. Due to a short bone in my foot I can’t stand for 12 hours a day (my muscles and bones twist and turn from the forces), I now have a telescoping masseaur’s stool: allows for great posture and legs can turn every way. I can also stretch my body on the big desk that my computer sits on… right now I’m stretching while typing this!

    To cure the ills of the body from sitting, try the Egoscue Method exercises (try the hips section in “Pain Free” by Pete Egoscue) and Somatic exercises. And MOVE. Take movement breaks. Hips will benefit from the Egoscue exercises and yoga, and moving….

  23. I purchased a stand up workstation back in January this year. It was around $230 and worth every single penny.

    I am working at my computer for 5-7 hours a day and standing up instead of sitting has been an absolute blessing.

    I sometimes choose to sit. But, standing is so much better. While reading this article I was actually sitting. Then, I decided I had enough and placed my laptop at my standup workstation. My focus soars when I stand compared to sitting.

    But, if you are going to stand for long hours be sure to take short breaks to move around! I tend to stand in one spot for way to long and my feet hurt. But, I think I have learned my lesson as I now take a short 1-5 minute break every 15 minutes or so. 🙂

    1. As a chiropractor here in Australia I think this is WONDERFUL!!!! Keep up the great work at getting the truth out there Mark!

  24. I can’t believe the timing of this. I just read an article in Macworld magazine about this last week, and was thinking “it would be nice if Mark posted something about this”.

  25. I work from home and started standing years ago when I noticed my posture getting worse from slouching at my computer all day. I elevated my keyboard on a shoestand (think closetmaid stuff) and put my monitor on a taller but similar storage cabinet. Works great and not only has it helped my posture but totally cleared up my carpal tunnel. Because I stand almost all day, I am actually not comfortable sitting for long and get serious odd looks when I stand at my daughter’s sporting events – men are always offering up their chairs to me.

  26. when you do stand and work -the ergonomics still come into play – i.e. be sure your monitor, keyboard etc are all still in the correct position for you – bend of elbows, height of wrists at keyboard, level of head to view monitor.

  27. The ergonomics team at my work actually offered to have me be the pioneer for the treadmill work station. I went with the plain old standing desk. It’s great, but I wish I didn’t chicken out and went with the treadmill.

  28. I started doing this a couple weeks ago and this is what I noticed

    1)The keyboard and mouse need to be at about elbow level or else it’s hard on the wrist

    2)Monitor needs to be in line with head

    I used old phone books to prop these things up to their proper height; you don’t have to be fancy.

    What I’ve noticed since:

    1) My posture has improved significantly

    2) My breathing is deeper

    3) I move around a lot more while I’m at the computer. I do body weight squats, lunges, or wall push ups if I begin to feel stiff.

    4) I don’t waste time on the computer because I don’t want to stand there all the time. When I was sitting I would be okay with sitting all the time.

    1. P.S.

      I think it would be nice to have a nice soft mat to stand on as well, but I haven’t tried this out yet.

      1. I’ve had good luck switching from dress shoes to Crocs when I’m standing instead of getting a mat.

  29. If you don’t mind the goofiness, all you really need are boxes, perhaps a solid tote container. At home, I’ve turned my computer desk into a stand up desk by placing the monitor on a large tote container, the keyboard on a very large box, and the mouse on top of three shoeboxes. My writing desk is simply six Avon boxes stacked in columns of two. I find this methodology to allow me to *perfectly* adjust the height of my desk; any authentic stand up desk I have seen so far has been a disappointment.

    1. I have almost that identical setup at work! Chronic hip pain is now gone!

  30. Oooh what about a sod covered treadmill work station!? Walking barefoot on a grass treadmill all day while working!? Sounds like a little slice of heaven.

  31. I’ve been using a stand-up desk at work for several months, and love it. It does take some getting used to, though. At first, it wasn’t my back or legs that hurt at the end of the day… it was my feet! Now, I have a cushioned floor mat, and will often slip off my shoes and stand in my socks.
    I’m fortunate to work for a small federal agency that has a very high worker satisfaction rate. The building staff completely accomodated my request-down to the precise height I wanted–and my co-workers are curious, but not in the least discouraging.

    1. Glenn, a few weeks ago I tried a standup workstation… and I had the same experience! My lower back didn’t hurt (it does sometimes when sitting), my legs didn’t hurt, but my heels hurt like hell after a week or so! I wear “barefoot” style shoes with minimal padding, and the floor is essentially concrete covered in thin carpet. Maybe I need a cushioned floor mat too… do you have a link to something similar to what you used?

  32. I realize we are talking about standing at work, but I have a related question to the subject of standing vs. sitting at work. I have heard that sitting on a stability ball or a ball used for pilates will help your posture and strengthen your core muscles. Would this be an option to consider if you cannot stand at work?

  33. Four herniated discs in my back lead me to develop my own sit-stand desk set-up. It didn’t cost my employer a penny. I just put my monitors up on the book shelf, which just happened to be at my eye level. I used an old monitor riser for my keyboard and mouse and borrowed a tall chair from our cafeteria so I can sit periodically when my feet get tired, which isn’t much anymore!! Necessity is the mother of all inventions, but it’s interesting to know that this was also a healthy choice! Considering I commute for 3 hours a day on a bus, I thought that this was a pretty good accommodation!

  34. I enjoy standing on my BOSU ball…you know the half ball with a solid plastic platform. This gives me cushion and works my balance all day. I can also change my foot placement and stretch my calves.

  35. What an interesting coincidence: I’ve been standing at work for about 3.5 weeks now!

    I decided that if sitting for 8 hours a day wasn’t good for me, the only alternative was to stand. Luckily, I work for an incredible company, and I didn’t even bother to ask my boss before trying it out. I just harvested a few toner boxes and built a shelf for my keyboard and mouse to sit on, then elevated my monitors on another couple of boxes. It was my “trial run.”

    It wasn’t pretty, but it gave me an idea what it would be like if I committed to it. The biggest problem was that the rest of my desk was a foot below my keyboard. I ended up having to make another shelf to place the things I was working on and looking at.

    Then, last week, one of my co-workers took it upon himself to construct three sturdy shelves about 12.5 inches tall to sit below the three points of my L-shaped desk that touched the ground. (It was a birthday present – thanks Frank!) Three of us lifted the desk onto the platforms, and now my entire desk surface is elevated. It’s freakin’ awesome! Here’s a link to a picture:

    At least two others in the company have expressed an interested in doing it themselves, one of which is also an avid MDA follower. Nobody has made fun of it. Though it comes off as a bit quirky, when people approach my desk, or stand at it like I do, they see how it could be interesting.

    I keep a tall bar stool under my desk just in case I need to rest a bit, but I probably average 5-10 minutes on it per day, if at all.

    All in all, I love it. Initially, the hardest part for me was the psychological aspect. For so many years, I’ve started my day by plopping into a chair. It was like the starting gunshot of my day. Strangely enough, that’s been the hardest thing to get used to.

    As always, Mark, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the new drive to be fit in all walks of life. Thanks for everything!

  36. I’m lucky I guess. Right now I work as a baker and I’m always bustling aroundon my feet and don’t stand in one place for very long (think iron chef).

    The downside is that I work nights and I work in the disgusting food industry which is everything but primal ; (

    1. Can you try kneeling and/or squatting at the desk?

      I’ve started alternating my sitting periods at the desk with kneeling, and kneeling hip flexor stretches, kneeling hamstring stretches and so forth.


  37. Standing in one place for long periods of time can lead to many problems as well.

    It’s not as though paleo-man spent hours (or an hour) standing in one place, at least not often.

    The key is variation.

  38. Glad to see you address this. I’m fortunate to have an adjustable workstation and rarely sit. I’ve even started standing in staff meetings and gotten the evil eye from other managers as they adjust their swivelers and at Brickbreaker on their Blackberries.

  39. Hmm…I posted a much longer thing several hours ago, but it doesn’t seem to have ever made it past the moderators.

    I’ll sum it up here: I’ve been standing at work for 3.5 weeks, and love it. This was a timely post!

  40. I guess this is one of the beneficial things about being a teacher – I’m standing and moving around all day. Since I started wearing minimalist shoes (Adidas Jawpaws… the VFF’s don’t fit and wouldn’t fly at my school anyway), I’ve noticed that I feel less tired and my hip flexors don’t hurt as much.

    For the guy looking for good hip flexor stretches, stand the back of your couch. Bring a leg up “indian-style” and then lean forward over your leg. It’s a good kind of hurt!

    1. I’m a teacher also and get to stand and move alot. But what about the kids? Mine are sitting a lot. We move from tables to “criss-cross” on the carpet a couple of times during the 2 hour reading lesson. I’ve tried letting them stand some, but they get rather unruly. Any suggestions?

      1. Me too – I’m standing and moving around but they are just sat there falling asleep. I work in a secondary school so they’ve been conditioned for at least 7 years to just sit there – I try getting them to stand up and move around a bit and you should hear the groans. Plus they can’t still still – unsurprisingly – they’re always rocking on the backs of their chairs, tipping them up. Still I can imagine what response I’d get if I suggested we installed standing height desks for them all!

        1. I would suggest squatting for kids. First off, they’re more flexible so don’t have much trouble getting there; and second, it keeps them from bobbing around so much the way they do on their feet or in chairs.

  41. I’ve found whenever I’ve had to stand for a longer period than “normal” (ie. at a concert) I’ve gone home with a sore lower back afterwards. I suppose I was essentially standing in the same spot for 3 hours (I don’t dance :), but that just makes me a bit wary of the idea of standing at my workstation all day. Having said that, I am going to give it a try because I’ve got a bit of a sore hip at the moment – as a result of yesterday’s sprinting I think 😉

  42. i hate to sit but my solution to the fact that computers are basically always low is that i sit on my legs with toes touching, i find it to be sort of like an excercise stretching wise

  43. …a few meaningless observations…and some emotional baggage…

    Donald Rumsfeld proudly worked at a standing desk and used it to justify making Guantanamo detainees stand for torturously long periods.

    On a personal note, back in the 90’s I suffered discrimination and retaliation at a public University, and part of the retaliation process was not being allowed to sit on the job until all my work was done–to the horizon. Funny how it left a bad taste for standing on the job.

    I kindly see Grok enjoying the perfect sitting rock, or log, or ledge for hours occasionally. Maybe even Mrs. Grok had him bring the right sittin’ log home. 🙂

    “Besides, is sitting really all that comfortable?”

    hell yes–parking your bucket in the right seat is one fine joy–health issues aside–where this post should be.

  44. while this would be awesome for me to have at work and prolly more beneficial for the high blood rpessure, diabetes obese people i work with, my boss would eithe fire me for bringing something like this up, or laugh in my face. he s VERY conservative and uptight.

  45. I spent the Fall 2009 semester (16 weeks) with my computer desk raised (I used bricks and pieces of wood) so that I could stand and do my homework. It was great, but I couldn’t find an anti-fatigue mat that worked well with the way my office is designed.

  46. Is sitting on the floor for long periods of time any healthier? Does it make a difference how the legs are positioned?

    1. When I took Bradley childbirth classes, I learned “tailor sitting” – essentially cross-legged, or “Indian style” (now more tactfully called “criss-cross applesauce”). They teach this position for all sitting, b/c it automatically accomplishes “put your legs up” w/o forever having to be in a recliner.

      I imagine that tailors and Native Americans got a reputation for doing this b/c it is the most comfy position I know of for long periods of time. At first, I thought of the pain in my back when I fold laundry on the floor, but realized the pain is from slumping while sitting cross-legged. It takes more effort to keep the lower & upper back from curling over, but the pain never comes. Pain is quick while slumping, which seems comfier at first.

      I’ve been tailor sitting all the time, pregnant or no, ever since then (9 years ago). My desk chair, couch, kitchen table, restaurant booths, any time I possibly can. I homeschool, and never force my children to sit in a chair, glad they do for only a little bit each day. The oldest ones (middle school) still squat & tailor sit frequently, b/c it comes naturally when you’re not forced to sit in a chair 8hrs/day.

  47. This site has cool treadmills designed to fit under existing desks (no large control panels).

    They are very popular and are on back order, but I’m saving up for one!

  48. I suspect sitting down like the Japanese do is very good for you. I train in aikido and have noticed stronger feet and better posture from sitiing in seiza.

  49. This is actually pretty common in the entertainment industry. Usually for artists because it is a more natural position for them to paint in.

    I think the body motion is also an essential part of creativity. This is why people “get up and walk around” when they are really contemplating something. That plus the change of environmental stimulus… but pacing is engaging your body in your mental process and the hormones released affect how the brain is going to function.

    I see it a lot at movie studios doing CG, and it’s not strange at many game development studios.

  50. I’d love to stand up all the time, but my feet cannot handle it. After 3 hours or so of standing/moving around, my feet just plain hurt like the dickens ): So I’m kind of glad sitting is the norm.

    When I was a cashier, standing for 8 hours at a time, it was AWFUL. My feet would hurt so much I could barely walk on them (they felt bruised). Needless to say, I stopped after awhile because I just couldn’t handle the constant pain.

    I bought some nike frees (5.0) but they don’t really seem to be helping make my feet stronger.

    Anyone have any links or advice as to help strengthen my apparently really weak feet?

    1. I use to be a cashier and also suffered pain from standing for so long. It was so bad that I kept a pair of crutches at home to help me get around the house after work. I now believe the pain was from improper alignment due to my flat feet. I realize this is against the minimalist footwear promoted hear, but I would suggest Birkenstocks (or similar), as I have found that they work quite well for myself.

    2. Try some Vibram FiveFingers (they’re shoes, despite the name that seems to indicate otherwise). I just picked-up a pair of them today (the KSO model) and LOVE them. They’ll retrain your muscles to do what they’re supposed to do while protecting the sensitive soles and toes in the process. The next best thing to being barefoot, IMHO.

  51. Great post Mark. I have had a desk that I am able to rise to various height, but never really used that function – until now. Thanks

    Here is my desk:

  52. The last few months I’ve actually been playing with different sitting styles while driving and sitting at work. I’ve pretty much determined that however you look at it, its is a double edged sword. I’ve been dealing with leg muscle imbalances (glutes weakened and TFL/IT bands super tense) and Been focusing on strengthening glutes and stretching/massaging the other but I sit way too much! I’m in great shape but I work on an ambulance where we sit a lot. We don’t have stations either. In the rig all day. I also teach medical stuff and am always on the road. I really wish there was an alternative to transportation and on the ambulance where I didn’t have to sit so much! I’m doomed! 🙁

  53. Great article. It was funny to see this because I’d not really considered it to not be the norm, but you’re right. Standing is great. I’m a stay at home mom with 2 small children so I’m on my feet all day. I do like to use the computer during the day, it’s like my little connection to conversation above the level of a 4 year old. So I like to come and go, read and post as I have time. I keep my laptop perched on top of our fireplace. It’s at just the right height and I don’t have to sit down to use it. If I sit I tend to spend more time than I maybe ought to. It is nice to put my feet up once in a while though.

  54. I am a chef and stand ALL day long and some times for 10 hours at a time and to sit down is almost a detriment because it’s hard to get back up! For those standing don’t forget rubber mats to stand on to help your legs & back!

  55. I am in my last year of law school and I’ve used a standing desk for a few years now. The first time I saw one, I had to have one. Instead of investing in an over-priced desk, or getting a more modern desk, I went to a lumber yard and got materials to build a base for the desk. It’s worked very well.

    Standing while I’m working/reading/etc. has been a great advantage. It helps me stay alert–whereas I often fall asleep reading while I’m sitting down. I think standing, in addition to all the health benefits, makes me more productive throughout the day.

    It’s interesting that many of the attorneys at the firm I work for have smaller standing desks in their offices. They will organize presentations there, read through their mail, or do some real work. It’s a nice break from sitting all day long.

  56. Good Article. I have the luxury of being rather mobile throughout the day but spend too much time sitting in front on computers.
    I’ve always wanted a laptop harness for home use… any thoughts on these?

  57. I’ve been insisting for some time that I want old-fashioned library tables- the ones that you can stand and work at- for my office. Eventually, that is. Right now my ‘office’ is in a corner at the end of my bed, where creating a standing workstation is not an option. But someday I will have my library tables, shelving, enough bookshelves…

  58. Hi! I’m a P90Xer who is new to the whole Primal idea, and just got the book during the big push last week.

    I saw the article and had to comment.

    About a year and half ago I got this wild hair, and decided I was going to try standing. I work with the internet technologies, so I’m staring at a monitor all day long. I also like to move while I think. I felt like sitting was just NOT doing me any good at all.

    So anyway, I got the Ikea desk with legs that adjust, setup all my gear and away I went. The first few weeks went by and I would notice that by the end of the day my knees would feel a little tight and swelled. While, hiking up the steps in the parking garage, I could really feel it. But slowly over time, each day became easier and easier.

    Now, it’s like completely second nature. I mean my legs feel no different at the end of the day compared to the beginning. I usually just blow up the several flights of stairs like its nothing.

    I really think standing while working has made me feel stronger, and more stable, and I really can’t see myself sitting ever again.

    Like I said, I like to move while think and such, so I actually plan on putting a large square desk in the center of the room, and staking a couple of monitors and such there so I can actually move around the desk and work from all sides… weird huh???

    Anyway, looking forward to learning more about Primal.


  59. I have standing most of my workday for the better part of a year. I have a bar stool, but find myself using it less and less. Lately, when I do sit, which is probably less than 20 minutes all day long, (not counting lunch, which I usually do sit for,)it feels like a relief, but a minute or two later my energy is such that I want to get up and be on my feet.

    (One of the postures that gives me “stifness-relief” is to put one foot up on my desk while I’m standing. I do that often.)

    I am getting more and more and more used to it over time.

    Any thoughts from fellow standers regarding anti-fatigue mats ? Right now, I stand on a hard floor.

    I would love to try a 1-2 mph tread, but don’t know if I’m ready to go that much deeper into the “Oh, he’s THAT guy,” profile I already have at work 🙂

  60. I get that sitting for extended periods is not that natural or healthy, but is standing in the same location either?
    I can not imagine early humans standing for long periods of time (the way you would stand in front a desk). Probably they were slowly moving here and there, and spend a lot of their time “sitting” on the ground, cross-legged, or in a squat.

    I don’t think standing in front of a desk for 8 hours is natural either.

  61. StrongWomanJanet says:
    An architect-height desk works fine for me; I got mine at IKEA a few years ago. It’s glass and chrome and was very reasonably priced. I also have a mini-trampoline in my home-office so that I can bounce once in awhile to get the blood flowing. Works well to let off steam after aggravating phone calls and project snafus too.
    Posted 2 days ago. ( permalink )

  62. My job doesn’t allow anything other than a chair, I’ve had a sitting job for the past 6 years. What can I do to help out with the stretched out glutes and shortened hip flexors? I can’t even sit on my husband facing him on the couch (stradling him), my hips can’t take it even 30 seconds and then my hips hurt for days afterwards. I’m assuming this is the tight hip flexor problem? How can I fix this? Love your posts Mark!!

  63. I have flat-feet, not the shoe-induced variety, the genetic type that does not improve with any amount of exercise or shoe choice. In fact I am barefoot about 95% of the time anyways. Standing in one place becomes extremely uncomfortable after just a few minutes. When I was young, I would always die in church because my parents made me stand during the song portion. I always wondered why I couldn’t handle standing like everyone else. Anyone else have naturally flat-feet and had anything work for them?

    1. See my reply to Hannah above- I have found that Birkenstocks work quite well, allowing me to stand for long periods of time without pain.

  64. I want to know if my legs feel tired or sore after trying this for a while, will they eventually get stronger and stop feeling this way? You always hear about grocery store checkers complaining about being on their feet all day. I’m asking if this is because of bad posture and not enough regular muscular health?

  65. Do you really need a treadmill? Can’t you just walk in place? Or, they have those old-school treadmills without a motor that take up less space.

  66. So I am all for being healthy and becoming more mobile and healthy. However, I recently went to a concert and got a spot on the floor where we stood for 4 hours. By the end of the concert my bad knee was KILLING ME (inflamation + loss of cartilage from strenuous activity for years and years). So the thought of standing up for 8 hours straight sounds like a nightmare. Is there a compromise? Would any kind of compromise even be as effective?

  67. I’ve tried using a “standard” kneeling chair like you linked to as well as a large exercise ball, but didn’t stick with them very long. Last May I bought a Kneelsit ( kneeling chair (both seat and knee pad are free to rock) and after about two months of adjusting I now use it all day. I think it is superior to a standard office chair where your legs are at 90 degree angles.

    That being said, I’ve been wanting a sit/stand adjustable desk for a couple years and I’m finally going to buy one (probably with a treadmill).

  68. Mark I have to applaud you for this post. I am a physical therapist who frequently has to educate the how to and help people work through the cumulative problems that have all but crippled them due to the prolonged sitting they do throuugh out the day. And, it’s not just the sitting at work, its the 1 hour commute both ways. It’s the sitting at the lunch counter, or the sitting at the dinner table. Then off to the sofa for a little TV before they hop into bed and prop their legs up on pillows because its hurts to lye supine with legs extended.
    I appreciated the fact that you have referenced the fact that it is a cultural subconscious norm that we have adopted. When I point out this fact to my patients it comes as a revelation to them, a sort of “Ahaa!” moment. I have found that once this revelation takes place it is much easier to have people buy into the stretching programs that I teach them.
    I also appreciate the fact that you have given your readers, and hence the world, a blueprint to follow to try to change their work space. I will definitely point people to this page.
    Good post!

  69. I got a custom built stand up desk a few months ago. I just did a write up on it along with a few other ergo hacks.

    I like standing, but variation is key. You need to move around or you’ll get stiff and sore. Having a stool to sit down once in a while helps.

  70. Mark, I would also like to suggest to many who may be implementing this particular strategy that, maybe in addition to a soft mat under both feet, that people also use a small box or stool to alternately rest a foot on. This takes the strain off the low back that would come with a static standing posture over a period of time.

  71. I am a flag person for road construction. I just started a few weeks ago, and normally drive a truck. I do four 10 hour shifts standing all of that time on asphalt. I can attest to the pain that you can experience from static standing. I am going to go buy an anti fatigue mat today and see if this will help at all. I am not allowed to sit at all and the only breaks I get are to use the restroom. Not so sure I am cut out for this type of work! Lol!

    1. Have you tried Mark’s Primal Fitness Exercises?
      I love the sprinting exercise. It makes me feel energized and, call me crazy, actually a lot younger.

    2. The mat should help, but the key is moving. Don’t just stand their statically. Walk around as much as you can.

      I have a standing desk and absolutely love it, but it took me awhile to get it right. I put a box under my desk about six inches in height, and I regularly put one or the other leg on it, like it’s a bar rail.

  72. Fine post, Mark.

    I’ve been playing with this idea for years, until I finally readjusted my old IKEA desk (no longer sold by IKEA) so the work platform stands 4′ (I’m 6’5″).

    Now I just need to find a stool on which the seat is at least 36-38″ high, ideally adjustable and with a foot rest. Any suggestions?


  73. Any suggestions for “anti-fatigue” mats, to be used in an professional office setting ? TIA

  74. Hi Mark
    I have been lurking for a long time in this forum (got your book in February) and have been a devout Grok follower since, with great results. I implemented my “standing workstation” at work placing some old laptop/monitors stands in my desk and now I stand at least half of my office day. And when I seat I use a simple task chair (like those they sell at Sam’s club for less than $20.
    For those interested in a better posture check this site

  75. Hey all. I’m new to the lifestyle and the website. I clicked on this link in the hopes of finding ways to combat/cope with standing at work not embrace it! So here is mystory..I’m a CNA (certified nursing assistant) and student nurse. Both my current job and future career involve A LOT of standing and walking. At the end of the day, the soles and heels of my feel throb very badly. I can only imagine what they would feel like if I were to be doing this bare foot or in those five finger shoes which I have been considering purchasing. So if I am to belive I should embrace this near constant standing, how can I go about avoiding the pains that come along with it? Any tips? Thanks all.

  76. I work from home and stand at the kitchen counter with the lap to propped up instead of sitting because my hips have become too tight over time. Plus I feel more energized when standing.

  77. I moved offices at work. I found a standing “desk”/computer stand with keyboard/mouse tray.
    Today is Day 1 of standing. OMG!!! My feet don’t really hurt (leather soled shoes with little to no cushion) but my quads are KILLING me!! How long will they hurt???

    1. Keep at it: I started doing like 1/2 hour intervals and in a little time was more comfortable standing than sitting. And now I added the stability ball (after using it like two weeks at home) and I am doing great. So now I pass half the time in the ball and half standing.

  78. Previously I stood for the majority of my work day and was fairly active.

    However, that all changed with a new position. I spend lots of time sitting in my car now.

    While I do like being “out of the office” I have noticed that my legs are not as strong now. (I can feel the relative weakness when I squat or kneel).

    Sitting transfers the work of supporting the body’s weight from the lower extremities to the lower back and pelvis. This, in turn, cannot help but weaken the glutes and leg muscles.

    These big leg muscles aren’t worked. Calories aren’t burned. And, our midsections spread

    Is it any wonder why back pain and obesity are so prevalent in our “advanced” society?

  79. I started standing at work (data entry) two months ago and haven’t turned back since. People that have never noticed me before are suddenly asking me if I “really stand ALL day?!” and “WHY?!” Some days I’ve had two or three people question me about why I stand.

    It’s been a real conversation starter!

  80. Using a height adjustable stool with a height adjustable desk is best. This way you can rest your weight in your seat but keep your spine and hips aligned properly, as if you are standing. Certain ergonomic stools allow for so much movement, that it can be better in the long run for you than standing all day. This is because you aren’t tiring and possibly then compromising your posture or stance. The best one I’ve found is Move Stool – designed in 1987 by a Norwegian company. Of course, nothing stops the user from sitting on the stool at too low of a height for themeselves, creating the ghastly right angle position that a normal chair would. So, education also needs to follow after these products.

  81. I have found the ProStretch to be a valuable addition to standing all day at work.

    Right now I wear lace-ups to the office. As soon as I get some minimalist slip-on shoes, I am going to get some sort of foot rolling massager, like this, as well:

    Keeps things interesting and “moving,” even while standing “still.” (i.e., shifitg, “dynamic posture.”

  82. Mark,

    I’ve recently begun standing at work. I place my computer on top of a box sitting on my table. The platform ends up being at waist level (putting my arms at about a 125 degree angle)

    Since I’ve begun, my upper back muscles are super sore at the end of the day. Is this because the platform is too low / too high, and should I adjust? Or is this just fatigue since I’m new to the standing thing?


  83. Chris, Yeah I would suggest moving the desktop higher up. I have mine right at nipple level, and i have found this is a perfect elevation to work/type from. It’s also very comfortable to lean on to change my stance to give my feet/legs/or back a little rest.

  84. I like to work by just putting my laptop on top of a 41″ IKEA bookshelf. I stole the idea from a picture I saw of Ernest Hemingway years ago, writing with his typewriter on a stack of books on top of a bookshelf.

    I can’t find that picture, but he’s a picture of his setup:

    You’ve inspired me to make a more permanent solution. More desk space would be helpful.


  85. I use a standing desk for all my work, and am typing this at the standing desk right now!

    I’ve been using it for a few years, and only sit down occasionally when I’m on the phone. I bought it from a firm in Ohio that seems to be the only commercial outfit that sells nice-looking standing desks, and it was custom-made to my height and dimensions and kind of expensive, I’ll admit, but worth every penny.

    I would encourage people who are thinking of this to spend the money if they possibly can afford it. It improves the quality of my work life enormously. I viewed the purchase like any other premium product (think grass-fed beef and organic vegetables). That’s why I wanted a standing desk that was pleasing to look at, sturdy, and functional. But that’s just me.

    The one thing that helps make working at a standing desk even more comfortable is a foot rail so you can put up one foot while you work. I spend all day at the standing desk, and either one foot or the other is on the rail most of the time.

  86. An adjustable laptop table will help you to be more ergonomic in many other ways also. For example this table has been designed in a way that it can also accommodate other important accessories that go a long with using a laptop. These devices include the optical mouse and other related devices. Other laptop adjustable tables are fitted with a cup holder for people who love taking coffee as they work.

  87. I work in a lab, and we are about to move into a newly renovated space, and when we do I am going to set my computer up at one of the bench height workstations so I can stand, not at the desk height area intended! And in case I need to sit during the day, there are lab stools. I am hoping that it works out well!

  88. Hello Primal Folks:-)

    I’ve been standing (at work,) for months now, maybe a year. It is now a “dialed in,” behavior. I find I am just MUCH more used to standing generally. At home, even if I am sitting with my family at dinner,for example, the urge to at least take, “stand-up,” breaks, springs upon me. My tendency to stand MUCH more (outside of work,) has increased greatly.

    I would LOVE to try a treadmill desk at work, but I don’t see that happening in the very near future for a variety of reasons.

    This sounds SO (!!!) simple, but I am offering it for “PB” consideration anyway. I have simply started to incorporate “rocking,” in a standing position. ( i.e., feet about a very short step apart, one in front of the other, and I simply come up on my rear foot’s toes and then, the rear foot comes down on the heel as the forward foot’s toes comes up, with light weight on the forward heel. Repeat, repeat, repeat 🙂 Of course, a simple variation is both feet shoulder width, and doing the same sort of movement, side to side. (Reminiscent of a parent holding an infant.)

    I am wondering how this compares with a treadmill at the workable pace of 1 m.p.h. in terms of “mileage” and N.E.A.T. benefits.

    I like it for the PB fitness base, i.e. lots of slow movement, etc.

    “(G)Rocking” in standing position, (supermarket, post office, motor vehicles department, lines, etc., ) is most definitely a life-hack I’ll be enjoying for the foreseeable future.

    Again, SO simple, but I’d not really considered it until recently. (I do take sitting breaks at work with a stool and conventional height chair. Even though I stand 90-95% of the day, it occasionally bothers my back. I believe the rocking and shuffling are going to really, really help with that.

    Your thoughts will be appreciated.

    Standing by 🙂

    1. I agree, rocking is a very good idea.

      Try also:
      – standing on one foot for periods of time
      – getting a 8-12″ stool and stepping up and down from it occasionally

  89. I purchased a cheap coffee table ($30) at Target, put it on top of my desk. Perfect height, lots of room for computer, writing space, files.

  90. Okay, so I’m pretty late to the conversation, but it’s taken a while for me to realize the horrible health problems that come with sitting all day.

    I took a new job four years ago that required me to be attached to a computer all day. So I sat on my butt all day every day. It’s what everyone does – like Mark says, it’s what’s expected. Simply horrible. Four years of sitting.

    So, no surprise, I put on 20 pounds and am a lot more tired than I used to be. I finally got so fed up with sitting I bought a treadmill desk (

    Yes, I bought it myself. Asking the powers that be would have been pointless for the reasons this article stated above.

    But I’m glad I made the investment. I walk for hours on my treaddesk while working. It’s actually quite easy to adjust to walking while typing and reading (I’m on it right now). I only have the speed set at 1.5-2 mph though. Any faster than that and my productivity suffers.

    It was a great investment. I’m all for standing as opposed to sitting, but the human body was meant to WALK. And walk a lot. It feels good to be doing what our bodies were designed to do.

    I still have my regular sitting desk for consultations and such. Otherwise people would think I’m REALLY weird. 🙂

    Best regards,


  91. I honestly find stuff like this downright insulting. Many of us actually WORK for a living, and never have the luxury of sitting down at work. Sommeone had to build your cushy office building you know. This is what I hate about men’s health magazine and others like it. We don’t all work in air conditioned offices Mark.

    1. Why so bitter? A majority of people DO sit in air condition offices all day. Have you ever tried sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen? Obviously not difficult, but god do you feel awful when the day is done. I did for a year, now I’m back doing framing. Some days are absolutely brutal, but I know I have it way better than they do. Hey we may have built that office for them, but they sit in that office and do our paperwork. Think we got the better part of that trade

      1. Majority? I’d like to see the numbers, frankly. With all those who not only work in trades/maintenance added to those in manufacturing etc, I bet there’s a lot more people than you think that don’t sit in cushy chairs all day. I’m just tired of every single article I read focusing on drivel like “how to woo the office hottie” etc etc.
        Mark isn’t the one to blame for this obviously, but let’s try to understand that upper middle class white folks who work in offices don’t make up the entire reading population.

  92. I home-built a walking desk a few years ago, and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

    Used treadmills are a dime a dozen, and building a desktop using some red oak plywood (with some solid wood for edging and the vertical supports connected to the treadmill’s arms) wasn’t too difficult.

    …and I don’t notice any difficulty typing when the speed is around 2 mph.

    …and it makes a good standing desk if I don’t feel like walking.

  93. I built an extender for my desk in one evening with a table saw, some 1/4 inch plywood and 1 X 4’s that I cut down to 3/4″ by 3/4″. All boards and glue, no nails. It works like a dream. I’m not that talented in the workworking field, so someone with a skill saw could probably do the same.

    Be bold. Tell your boss you won’t sit for it!

  94. I’ve started to do this again at work after having done it for a month-long period about a year ago. The benefits are awesome, despite the weird looks I get!

  95. I’ve been standing at work for over 6 month now. I simply do not even miss the chair. I get so much more done as I move freely from the computing position over to the product area and straight to shipping table (same room) without missing a beat. Chair? Who needs one? I have one I never use now.

  96. I just uploaded some new photos of my stand up/sit down modular desk. I show various positions of me using it and I think you get a good idea of the possibilities, such as propping one leg up on a chair or stool, etc. When sitting, it is best to use Active Sitting which is a cross between standing and sitting–an I show the matching Tilt Seat Eco Chair for that.

  97. I use to work in shipping at library hq and it was perfect; I had a standing workstation with a stool to sit if I chose to or got tired. I had to pack boxes with books to ship out, so there was a lot of movement at a slow pace and somewhat heavy lifting. Now they moved me to processing and I sit for 6-8hrs with very little movement and no lifting, it sucks.

  98. I’ve suffered from sciatic nerve pain in my left leg since completing a tour of duty in Afghanistan 2 years ago, and had noticed that prolong sitting aggrivated the condition. I happened on the NYT piece Mark mentions, and decided to experiment with the idea. I put my monitors on an existing eye-level bookshelf in my cube and used reams of paper to elevate my keyboard and trackball. Once I figured out comfortable dimensions I found an inexpensive “laptop desk” that matched them and simply placed it on my desk. I’ve been standing at my workstation for 2 months now, no longer suffer from nerve pain, and seem to be sleeping better too.

  99. I’ve started doing this with my laptop – placing it on a box on top of the kitchen counter – as, initially, a frequent break from all the hours I spend sitting down in front of my desktop PC every day.

    One problem with a laptop though, is that with the keyboard at elbow height, you’ll need to look down at the screen, and I can’t help but feel that the slight forwards bend of my neck is far from optimal?

    1. an easy solution to improving your standing position while using your laptop is to connect an external monitor and keyboard.. you can actually set up a dual monitor with this arrangement. Riser blocks can optimize the monitor position while maintaining a good standing hand height at the keyboard

  100. Been living and working the standing lifestyle for 2 years. Designed my own low cost adjustable modular solution with a goal of take control and provide an answer to getting out of the chair

  101. I use a desktop version of a standing desk which allows me to stand all day long or to sit down when I need to. Its a great solution! I think more and more people are realizing that sitting for long periods is truly bad for your health. The Stand’nSit is a new product available at

  102. This is totally gaining ground and I know a few people who’ve taken this on. Not at the office however, but for those working at home.

    All I need to do is prop up my Ikea desk and “hang” it on the next shelf up. I knew there was a reason that I never tightened the bolts on that thing 😉

  103. Been doing the standing thing for about 9 months now. Today I added a “balance pad.” Like these:
    (Google Airex balance pad or Aeromat balance pad, etc.)
    Nice 🙂
    Of course, YMMV, but enjoy !

  104. I love this post, I’m an IT person and usually sit from 8 – 11 hrs daily. I’m recently experiencing pain in my lower back and my chiropractor told me that I should sit for lesser amount of time. This blog really helps me prove my point to my manager to get me a standing workstation.

    Many Thanks,

  105. Thanks for the article.
    As an Industrial Hygienist, I spend a lot of time on ergonomic issues and most of them anatomical ‘seat’related’ problems. About a month ago, I converted a lab bench into a standing work station and put an anti-fatigue mat on the floor where I stand, the extra little cushion is perfect for standing at the PC and typing for periods of time. Wearing form fitting shoes is also important with good arch support.

  106. I have been using standup workstations since 1982 for all the reason you have laid out. Sitting is just to “new” for humans.

    I have only good physical results.

    Very interestingly, and for an extrovert like me, very much fun, has been the need to gracefully help co-workers in knowing how to physically interact with someone who is not “across the desk”.

  107. I am a contractor and cannot push for a change in my desk from my employer, since my employer does not provide the furnishings. Further, my place of work *requires* all cubicles to have cabinets over the whole desk area – there is no vertical space to stack books! I tried to get building services to remove the cabinets and they said that was prohibited. I need to stand – I can’t tolerate well the constant sitting and I end up in pain. But who in management cares – labor protections (and common sense) are nearly dead in this country.

  108. Bruce,

    I hate to hear that! Your company needs a good law suit or something. Get some good ammo at, I have some of their printouts hanging in my cubicle. Also, check us out at We need to unite standing people!

    Cave Dad

  109. Thanks for the article! This really helped get me started in standing at work – which I’ve been doing for 3 months now (apart from meetings, where I’ll stick with convention).

    I found a Rubbermaid hanging file folder tub (lidded) sitting around and it’s about the perfect height for my laptop and super-stable too! Also, it’s really unobtrustive.

    At home, I was able to find a lectern for $20 at a barn sale and it’s great for angling my laptop screen so it’s even better for my neck.

    1. I’m sorry, but this is a dumb article. It’s point is that a standing desk can be bad if you do it wrong. That’s not a reason not to do it. That’s a reason to do it right!

      For example. you have to get the height of the desk right for your height, and then it’s important that you raise the height of your monitor to the correct level of your eyes, so you are not prone to leaning over to look at it. As many other posts have stated, the key is an external keyboard or an external monitor. I use an inexpensive logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, and then put my laptop on top of a box on my desk so that it is at the right height.

      As far as standing for long periods of time, the key is moving, which need be no more than putting one or the other leg on something now and then. I use a box for this purpose. Then, walk around a little bit regularly, which is much more easily done when you’re already standing, rather than sitting.

      By the way, I also didn’t much care of the cheap political shot the author took at the beginning, but I guess that’s Time.

  110. Hi there, just wanted to mention (if nonone has already) that ‘prolonged’ standing at work without sitting at all – is linked to abortion, birth defects, arthritis, strokes and heart circulation problems ( so its good to have a seat at work so you can stand for a while and sit for a while, best is to adjust your position regularly.

  111. Here is my criteria for what makes furniture body friendly, people friendly and back friendly:

    1) Uses four primary positions which put the body in alignment (or neutral): standing, active sitting, lounging, and lying down.

    2) Numerous built-in opportunities for stretching and movement.

    3) Inexpensive and widely available. There are some really great chairs for ‘active sitting’ on the market which are appropriate from some circumstances. However, most people can’t afford them, so they do little to promote the movement.

    4) Adaptable to the modern home, office and conventional lifestyle. Even the office cubice? Why not? Radical yes, but you have to start somewhere.

    5) Minimalist (firm surfaces, planar, small, modular, multipurpose)

    6) Simple elegance. Built for function and beauty not for status.

    7) Makes use of existing circumstances and structures as much as possible. (e.g. Doesn’t add a whole piece where only a part is needed.)

    8) Friendly to the planet and the people who made the furniture. (Get away from the ‘Made in China, sold at a big box store’ model).

    1. I don’t see in any way how this product meets this criteria:

      “3) Inexpensive and widely available. There are some really great chairs for ‘active sitting’ on the market which are appropriate from some circumstances. However, most people can’t afford them, so they do little to promote the movement.”

    2. I have to agree–unfortunately not too affordable, but it sure does look nice. 🙂

  112. I bought a few simple props to build my standing workstation at work:

    -an Ikea shelf for my desk to put my monitor at eye level (20$)
    -a plastic storage bin that raises my keyboard to standing height ($5)
    -a sterilite desk organizer with drawers that puts my mouse at standing height ($15)

    It’s a very comfortable setup that I’ve been using for 2 years, and it totally got rid of my back pain.

    So cheap that I didn’t even bother to request funding from my company.

  113. I went through this same issue (wanting a standing desk) and had a lot of resistance from a boss at a previous employer. I find that showing the research is most important. There is a ton of data out there showing how back pain is the #2 cause for sick leave aside from the common cold. Australian ergonomist and seating specialist, Jenny Pynt, Phd has been studying these same effects of what standing all day can do to you. I’ve found through personal experience and research that simply standing instead of sitting is not exactly the key to comfort:

  114. I had a standing workstation for several months last year because of a back injury and my physical therapist recommended it. When I got to feeling better was around the same time that we moved our department to a new building and I didn’t ask to have the new space raised. I’m wishing now that I had. I still might because I’m starting to experience the numbness down my leg again and it only seems to be relieved by standing up and moving around.

  115. On day 2 of standing desk. I use a small box to put one foot up on, when I get tired of standing in a static position. It seems to help.

  116. Christine,
    The just stand website is excellent! We at StandingoodHealth remain committed to delivering a solution to the problem of a sedintery lifestyle and also use our sit and FB page to help make current articles and information available.
    Hope you have made the commitment to StandinGoodHealth

  117. I read the article on the dangers of sitting about an hour ago and immediately decided to try out standing. One unexpected side effect is dancing, constant dancing, I can’t stop myself.

    1. I have the same problem. My co-workers already think I’m crazy, what with my odd footwear and strange eating habits. Now I’m standing up all day dancing around while they sensibly sit on their butts.

  118. Okay after years of teaching and thus standing up all day, I took a good job that requires me to sit for 8 plus hours. To cope with the sitting I have gotten, a ball chair, have added a portable stepper, and now am looking for a way to lift my keyboard temporarily on and off during the day so I can add standing to counteract the effects of long periods of sitting. I looked at those foldable bed trays and am going to give one of those a shot.

  119. I don’t have an option to stand at work, and what makes it worse, is I’m working 12 hours shifts behind a computer, 5 days per week. Luckily it’s only until late spring. My solution is to just drink too much water! I paced off the distance to the washroom at 65 yards, and there’s a long way around I can take also. There is also a washroom 1 floor down. I’m not being overly excessive with the water, but enough to make sure I get off my butt at least once per hour, if not more..

  120. Love to STAND….great article informing people of the benefits of standing. We have a desk option for you to look at and consider.
    As you stated “A standing workstation doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to work” and most importantly – work to improve your health!

  121. I just started standing yesterday…so far, I love it. I have my keyboard and mouse up on a staples box…My work surface is adjustable, however…I plan to adjust it next week.

  122. Hey Mark,

    Great post and awesome idea!

    I’ve just started doing the same thing after hearing about it in Eben Pagans Wake Up Productive training.

    I was just wondering, where did you buy your particular desk, as I like the look of it?


  123. At home I use a large chest of drawers as my standing desk. It is the tiniest bit too short, but by putting a large book under the keyboard, it’s perfect, plus I have all that extra storage.

  124. At this website you can see how to convert your existing workstation to standing configuration. You can lift your desk or put modular units on top of your cubicle.

  125. You can actually modify your existing workstation to standing configuration, without having to bring in something new. You can lift your desk up, or put modular units on top of your fixed cubicle.

  126. Putting a timer on, then rising when it dings works great. Having a rebounder close by to jump on energizes me while stimulating the lymphatic system. Sipping water between these intervals works well too.

  127. What works for me is a standing height desk and a high saddle stool. My desk surface is at 43″ (I’m 5′ 10″) and my stool sets at 32″ high.

    Perfect combo. A saddle stabilizes your spine and activates your abs so you don’t need a back. I stand when I want, sit comfortably when I want, and anything in between with a high desk and stool. I’m constantly shifting and I don’t need to think to do it, it just happens.

  128. I created a standing desk at my workplace last week and love it. My feet have been sore (particularly my heels), but it may be because I am used to wearing heels and at my standing desk I am usually barefoot. I just bought an ergonomic mat, which should help.
    The best part is my neck and shoulder pain have virtually disappeared! I have better range of motion in my neck than I have in ages.
    I rarely stand still. I find I do plies, lunges, leg raises, etc. while I work.
    I love no longer feeling like a shmushed marshmallow with my shoulders bent forward and my neck cocked out.

  129. I just converted to stand up mode at work a couple of days ago as part of my introduction to the PB. Of course, it does not help that I am fighting years of poor desk posture.
    It is taking some getting used to.
    I also realize that this issue is only part of the problem after working on all of the mobility drills.

    The Lance Armstrong Foundation has some great links on proper neck posture that compliment this article.

    I can’t believe how interrelated all of these joints are.

    So I am going to get the joint working and then onto the exercise program.

  130. I made my own stand-up desk modification using parts from IKEA. It cost me about $25 and I LOVE it!! It just takes a “LACK” table, two “VIKTOR” brackets and a shelf of your choice. I went with “EKBY LAIVA” because I have a small keyboard.
    Just google “IKEA stand up desk” and you can see how to do it on a bunch of different blogs.

  131. I have a variable height desk at work, one you can tune via a couple of buttons. I mostly use it at a high setting so I can stand. Been doing that for years.

  132. I have been the “stand-up teacher” at my school for about 9 months. Due to degenerative disc disease and an extruded disc that had me in the hospital for two days last winter, I don’t sit much. My neurosurgeon wrote me a prescrition for the stand up station and I have since created my own, monitor and keyboards on boxes…perfect fit! Looks pretty trashy, but it works. You just have to find the perfect boxes. Now, they have ordered the “Cadillac model” which has seperate surfaces for the monitor and keyboard. It also has room for an open file, duh, the first one only had space for my laptop. The standing,walking,squatting(lowest file drawer access) has strengthened my, legs, core and back and I swear I am more alert these days.

  133. People keep suggesting that I get a thick floor mat/pad like cashiers and people in warehouses have when they stand in one place. Is that needed? Is it even a good idea?

    Background: I have put together a standing desk at work. I am at reception so it had to look at least a little bit presentable. Office mates have been very inquisitive and receptive. (I am not the first one at this office to have a standing desk.) I have had a pretty good transition so far. My lower back is talking but after 3 days I am mostly adjusted and happy with the setup.

  134. Mark,
    Thanks for the post! These are very good reasons for standing up at work, but what about taking a break? Studies show that if you stand TOO much you are more likely to develop varicose veins, leg cramps, and even (gross) hemmeroids. You need to move between sitting and standing, which can be hard at work. Personally, I use an adjustable height desk from NextDesk in the office and (so excited about this!) soon will use their new, smaller version, the “Solo” at home. Check it out:
    I think these products, or adjustable height desks in general, are good for balancing standing and sitting. Of course these days I stand a lot more than sit, but I do take short “sitting breaks” when my legs start to fatigue.
    Thanks again for the post. Hope this is helpful!

    1. I’ve been standing at work, with periodic sitting “breaks”, for a bit over 2 years. While I think it is great, I hear what Natalie is saying and for me, a Tread Desk would be the next step in “evolution.” Standing beasts sitting and walking beats standing. I have some work-culture inhibitions though, so I’m not sure when/if that’ll happen.

  135. I can’t see the pictures on the $20 DIY setup blog post.

    Could you explain what was done? What to buy?

  136. Hey Mark,
    Thanks for the post! Lucky for me, I didn’t have to introduce the idea of a standing desk to my boss, because that’s actually how I got introduced to the idea! I started working at a new job about 5 months ago, and lo and behold, there was an adjustable height desk already there, waiting for me.
    It was the first I’d thought of using something like this, and after just about a week I was in love. I even made a little makeshift one for my home when I’m working there.
    But now I’m looking at buying a smaller version of what I use at work for my house. See, I use a NextDesk adjustable height desk and they’ve just released a new, smaller version for smaller spaces. It is pretty cool.
    If you’d like to check it out for yourself, their site is
    Let me know what you think, and thanks again for the post.

  137. I rigged up a temporary workstation yesterday. So far, so good! But, I have a question: I keep locking my knees. Will that become less of a habit as my legs get stronger? Right now it is a bit of a distraction!

  138. I have been having serious issues with my legs lately and this may just be the problem. I sit for at least 7 hours a day at work, I noticed throughout the day when I need to get up and move around my legs hurt so bad I have to stand still for a minute before they even work properly. I feel like I need to go to the doctor and make sure there isn’t a more serious issue. I would love to be able to stand with the option to sit while at work all day. When I worked at a hotel I stood all day and the only issue I had was achy feet but I chaulk that up to standing on carpeted (Cement underneath) floors. Wish me luck with my doctors visit. LOL

    1. I’ve been there, done that, and have seen it all, Unfortunately our jobs are what they are, but I have been very fortunate to have had jobs where I got to sit often, but also got to move around. I have a back problem, and I can not stand for more than 15 minutes, but as long as I got to sit and walk during my job, I never had pain or discomfort, and that worked for me, I lost one of those jobs recently because of my health issue, i worked in a comfy job,for 7 years, and then we were running out of work, especially in my department, and the only work they had were the dreaded ones where i would have to stand up all day long, and these were more stressful jobs than mine was, so finally they let me go because I told them on several occasions that i can not work standing up, Good Luck with the doctor’s visit

  139. Hello All You Up-Standing Folks:

    I have some toys/props at my feet. Wobble board, Pro-Stretch calf stretcher, wooden yoga-block. I’m adding one to the mix. 2 large size furniture sliders. Sort a “poor man’s treadmill desk.” Yeah, I could just shuffle, rock to & fro’ or alternate foot lifting, but this slide seems like a fun thing to try. Just sharing in case it might help one of you. All the best, Eddie

  140. For those who are encountering difficulties implementing standing configuration at work, we supply products that directly address the concerns of the decision maker, usually the facilities manager. You can raise your entire desk to standing height so the style doesn’t change, its inexpensive enough to roll out to anyone else who requests it, you keep the entire surface available, your drawers system stays unchanged…….no need to store the original desk somewhere. You can try out standing, and easily return to your original configuration if you choose.
    For cubicles, there are modular surfaces that sit on top and add 80% more available desk space.

  141. I’m late to the party, but I just converted my work station to a stand up version. Only cost $28. A friend of mine has been working standing up for years and swears it is much better for her back and her overall fitness.

  142. I’ve been using a standing desk at work (made from IKEA “Lack” tables and shelves) for several months now. My only complaint is my sore feet. I have an anti-fatigue mat, and most days I wear my Inov8 running flats. I’ve experimented with other types of shoes or just in socks, and still the sides of my feet hurt, like pulled tendons. I do fidget, walk down the halls to the bathroom and breakroom, and so on, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve had a full day shift at Denny’s. :-/

    1. No person during or after work should feel any discomfort at all ! Standing more frequently may be good for some, but definitely not good for everyone. the best is when you work in a job where you get to sit down most of the time but also get to
      walk around a bit too, remember walking now and then is healthier than standing.

  143. After trial and error I found that the best way to measure for height is to stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms at your side. Then bend your forearm up to a 90 degree angle and have someone mearsure from the bottom of your elbow to the floor. You ideally want to have the surface of the desk be within 1 3 inches lower than that height. The best I found was 1 1/2 inches. That way my wrists aren’t bent at a uncomfortable angle either way (up or down). I built my own solid wood stand up desk using and Ikea wood kitchen counter-top, 2×4’s and carriage bolts. Made it with wings so it sort of looks like a flat faced stealth bomber from the top. That way I move from side to side a bit to reach tings and so forth.