Australian Study of Standing Fatigue

More than half of Australians get tired of standing up for less than one hour, according to new research by Matshop.

A survey of 788 Australian men and women aged 18 and over revealed 52.2% got tired of standing up for “about one hour” or less at home or work. Of these respondents, about half were tired after 30 minutes or less.

Just one quarter (24.5%) could last for more than four hours before feeling fatigued and 23.2% could stand for “about two hours”.

Occupational Therapy Australia National Manager for Professional Practice and Development Anita Volkert was not that surprised by the findings. 

"It’s not necessarily surprising, as the international literature in the area shows us that while interspersing sitting with regular standing at a traditional computer based sedentary workstation, or a school desk, or while on the couch watching TV, may have beneficial effects (Torbeyns et al, 2014), static standing (standing in one position for a long time) can also have some negative effects, causing discomfort, fatigue and overall strain (Halim & Omar, 2015)," she said. 
"So, we do know that standing causes fatigue, and that prolonged standing can actually be detrimental to health (Messing et al, 2005)."


Generation X can stand up for the longest

Out of all the different age-groups within the survey, respondents closest to Generation X could stand up for the longest period.

Nearly one in three respondents aged 35-54 could stand for more than four hours while just one in five Generation Y respondents could stand this long, which was about the same for respondents who were over 55 years-old.

Generation X respondents were also the least likely to be tired after just one hour - 43.1%.

Anita said more research should be conducted to find out why some generations tire more easily. 

"Torbeyns et al’s (2014) systematic review of the international literature on standing workstations does point out that we actually know very little about different age groups’ standing and fatigue tolerance, and that may put us at risk as a society of jumping to conclusions, such as thinking that younger generations would tire less easily, which the [sic[ study appears to suggest is not the case," she said.

More research in this area would be beneficial – it might for example help us continue to refine and develop guidelines as to exactly how much standing, and sitting, is beneficial or detrimental for different age groups."

How standing fatigue can impact productivity

Physical fatigue can, of course, lead to mental fatigue and a loss of productivity in the workplace.

For jobs that require significant periods of standing up such as factory work, retail, hospitality and security, anti-fatigue mats can help. Specific exercises can also help to increase stamina and physical fitness.

Office jobs or other professions that involve a lot of sitting can have the inverse effect and cause people to be more prone to fatigue when they have to stand up.

With the increasing amount of stand-up desks in offices around Australia, standing fatigue may well be a factor to consider for the future in these jobs too.

Anita said using activity-permissive workstations could help as well as regular movement at work. 

"There are a wide range of what are called activity-permissive workstations (which include sit-stand desks with anti-fatigue mats) available which may help address standing fatigue – other options include workstations which incorporate treadmills, cross trainers and stationary cycles," she said.

"Building in regular breaks to walk or move around is another option (Gilson et al, 2009).

"The international literature suggests we should be looking to sit less (Owen et al, 2010), however it does not necessarily suggest that we need to stand more (Halim & Omar, 2015; Messing et al, 2005), instead active movement may be the most useful and cost-effective option."

Recommendations from the Department of Health also recommend avoiding long periods of sitting and to get up as much as possible.


  1. Isa Halim & Abdul Rahman Omar (2015) Development of Prolonged Standing Strain Index to Quantify Risk Levels of Standing Jobs, International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 18 (1), pp. 85-96, DOI: 10.1080/10803548.2012.11076917

  2. Nicholas D. Gilson, Anna Puig-Ribera, Jim McKenna, Wendy J. Brown, Nicola W. Burton & Carlton B. Cooke. (2009) Do walking strategies to increase physical activity reduce reported sitting in workplaces: a randomized control trial. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity 6 (43).

  3. Karen Messing, Sylvie Fortin, Genevieve Rail et al. (2005). Standing still: Why North American workers are not insisting on seats despite known health benefits. International Journal of Health Services. Oct 1.

  4. Tine Torbeyns, Stephen Bailey, Inge Bos, Romain Meeusen. (2014). Active workstations to fight sedentary behavior. Sports Medicine. 44 (9). pp1261-1273.

  5. Neville Owen, Genevieve Healy, Charles Matthews, David Dunstan. (2010) Too much sitting: The population-health science of sedentary behavior. Exercise Sports Science Review. 38 (3) pp. 105-113.