Useful tips to stand up throughout your work day

Published by Jason Narog on

Man sitting at desk with laptop and cell phone

How often should you stand up from your desk?

You should stand up from your desk as often as your boss or supervisor will allow you to. If you have an office job where you can only take breaks if someone comes and covers for you, then you are more limited than someone who can stand up and walk around whenever they want. I’ve read a variety of suggestions from others and the best answer I’ve seen is walk around for 5 minutes for every 25 minutes you spent sitting.

Now that may be easier said than done. Hour long office meetings don’t allow you to do this. Neither do tight deadlines where you’re rushing as quickly as you can to finish the project.

If you have a standing desk then you can shift from sitting to standing whenever you want. But shifting from sitting to standing isn’t going to be the be all cure all solution for you. The Harvard Health Blog wrote an article entitled The truth behind standing desks which references another study that found standing at your desk only burns an extra 8 calories an hour over sitting. They also point out that back, leg or foot pain can occur from suddenly switching from a sitting to standing desk.

So what do I think you should do? What do I do at my office job?

I drink a lot of water. I previously had a bottle similar to the Swig Savvy water bottle before misplacing it during a long work day. Now I have a wave water bottle. So here’s the trick. Get a smaller water bottle, like the 17oz wave. The smaller the bottle the more often you’ll run out of water. The more often you run out of water the more often you have to get up to go refill it. Now you’re not just sitting or not just standing during your day. You’re getting up and walking around. The distance you travel will be different based on how far away that filling station is, but regardless there are bonuses to this system.

Bonuses include

  • Taking your eyes off that computer screen for a minute, letting them focus on something that isn’t so bright
  • Giving your brain something more stimulating to look at besides your desk or cubicle (regardless of how drab your office environment is, the change of scenery is good for the brain)
  • If you were working on a problem your subconscious brain is now solving it for you, meaning you won’t be banging your head on your desk looking for an answer when you get back
  • You might run into an interesting coworker to chat with for a minute or two, leaving you standing for a longer period of time
  • You’re hydrating your body (and not with soda), so your body is happy with you

The added benefit to this system? The more water you drink the more often you have to get up to use the bathroom. That means even less sitting and even more getting up and walking around.

Pro tip. Don’t take your bottle with you when you get up to use the rest room, that way you have an excuse to get up after another 25 minutes at your desk to refill that water bottle again. This is how you can easily get some extra steps in.

What is the monitoring device used to count steps and passively track activity?

Most people are referring to the Fitbit when talking about a step counter, but there are a variety of devices available on the market today. I bought a knockoff version by Pard that keeps track of my heart rate and steps. I’ve used it a few times while running to keep track of my heart rate. Any pedometer will technically do, and can go for as little as $10.

If you just want to track steps as a daily game to get yourself moving throughout the day, you can go with a $10 pedometer. If you want to track a lot more information, or think you’ll want to in the near future, than a Fitbit may be more up your alley.

Here’s to less time sitting and more time walking during your work day.