Sit-Stand Workstations

Standing desks or sit-stand workstations are rapidly gaining in popularity. While research suggests that prolonged sedentary behavior has emerged as a risk factor for various negative health outcomes, there is little agreement on the best intervention strategies to reduce sedentary behavior.

The following information outlines the EHS guidance regarding these emerging intervention strategies:

Departmental Purchases

As with chairs, desks or other office furniture, sit-stand desks are purchases made at the discretion of the department. EHS does NOT make recommendations in regards to the need for or the type of sit-stand workstations.

Medical Accommodation

Requests for a medical accommodation, including those for a sit-stand or standing desk, should be referred to the Office of Human Resources (for staff), the Office of the Dean of Faculty (for DOF employees), or the Office of Disability Services (for undergraduate and graduate students).

Standing Desks vs. Sit-Stand Desks

Some workstations are designed for the user to stand exclusively and some are designed to vary posture between sitting and standing. Research suggests that variability is key and users benefit from the ability to change postures between sitting and standing.

Types of Sit-Stand Workstations

There is a wide range of sit-stand workstations commercially available, from free-standing electrically controlled to manual setups that can be placed on an existing desk surface. Each type has benefits and limitations. Departments and users should consider the following when evaluating products:

  • Ease of use
  • Cost
  • Desk space footprint
  • Distance to monitor
  • Space for mouse or other input device

Alternative Strategies

There are several alternative strategies to reducing sedentary behavior, both at work and outside of work. All computer users should be encouraged to devote at least five minutes of every hour of computer use to a non-computer-related tasks.

Work-related strategies can include:

  • Standing while speaking on the telephone builds in a natural break throughout the day and avoids the temptation to pinch the telephone headset between your shoulder and chin
  • Print to a remote printer to force yourself to stand and retrieve documents
  • Schedule non-computer-related tasks throughout the day
  • Set a timer that reminds you to stand up and move throughout the day. Certain commercially available fitness trackers (Fitbit, Garmin, etc.) will remind you to move throughout the day
  • Use these University Health Services Desk Stretch videos to increase movement throughout the day

Strategies outside of work can include:

  • Join a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall.
  • Recruit a partner for support and encouragement.
  • Get the whole family involved — enjoy an afternoon walk or bike ride with your kids. Play with your kids — tumble in the leaves, build a snowman, splash in a puddle, or dance to favorite music.
  • Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play.
  • Walk the dog frequently
  • Clean the house or wash the car.
  • Drive less: walk, bike or take public transportation
  • Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.
  • Mow the lawn with a push mower.
  • Plant and care for a vegetable or flower garden.


Kelly States
Assistant Director

Sean Farrell
Workplace Safety Specialist