Working Healthy: “Not Sitting” isn’t the Right Way to Stand

Working Healthy: “Not Sitting” isn’t the Right Way to Stand



“What the hell was that noise, John?”

“I threw my chair out the window, Bob. Sitting is bad for you, so I’m standing now.”

“Oh cool. How are you going to stand?”

“Didn’t I just tell you? My chair is gone! I’m standing now!”


The above scene appears absurd, no doubt. But our experience is that this is more or less how most people approach standing at work. And it causes all sorts of problems.

We’re here to tell you: “Not sitting” isn’t the right way to stand.

Look Before You, uh, Stand

We’re so excited when we hear from new standers. Every person who joins the newsletter or buys a standing desk is taking big steps to improve their health and productivity, and we seriously respect that. But with all the hubbub surrounding the dangers of sitting, we find that many people are diving in without really knowing why (or how to).

It’s Not About Addition by Subtraction

Most of these cases are people focused on removing the downsides of sitting. And that’s a good starting place, but there’s something much more powerful here. Standing isn’t just better because it removes negatives – it’s better because it adds positives. And the biggest of those positives are increased available movement and improved posture.

If you toss your chair and start standing, you’re avoiding the pitfalls of sitting. The myofascial effects of compressing your butt all day and keeping your hips closed up tight. But if you don’t do standing right, you’re leaving benefits on the table.

The Additive Benefits of Standing

Getting your legs out of the way means you can maintain a healthier posture for your arms and shoulders. If you don’t capitalize on this by setting your desk up properly – namely lowering and tilting your keyboard relative to your monitor – you’re leaving those benefits on the table.

Sliding that suffocating chair out of the way allows for more movement. We’ve shown a few ways to take advantage of that in the past. As we said there, the single biggest benefit to standing is that it allows for more movement. Capitalize on that opportunity (especially that calf pump), and you tap into real, serious health benefits. Benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. You’ll even increase your fat burning and lean out. Of course, if all you do is avoid your chair, you’re leaving those benefits on the table.

Let’s Start Standing the Right Way

On top of potentially missing the benefits, if you simply view standing as “not sitting”, you’re more likely to damage yourself in the transition process.

Our chair throwing John isn’t just missing optimal posture and movement – he’s also put himself in a probably painful position. He’s likely been sitting for years. Standing all day on day one is almost definitely going to put him in a world of hurt and fatigue.

Standing right is important – but it’s also important to transition to standing the right way. 

Mostly, just slow down. Spend your first two weeks standing for no more than 15 minutes/hour. Then gradually bump that time up, backing off when you feel pain or fatigue. In the grand scheme of your life, spending 6 weeks transitioning to standing the right way is a tiny time investment. 

For more info on the transition, check out The Quitting Sitting Transition Plan.

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