best anti-fatigue mats for standing desks

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The 5 best anti-fatigue mats for standing desks

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Recent analysis of longitudinal studies in the U.K. have begun to prove in earnest that sedentary behavior — like sitting at a desk all day — can indeed result in some not-so-great health outcomes in the long run. Of course, being on your feet all day (as good as it might be for you) can be uncomfortable after a while, which is why the best anti-fatigue mats for standing desks are made with about 0.75 inch of high-density foam or memory foam to provide stable support for your feet and joints. They have nonslip backing and beveled edges to enhance safety, and some have design upgrades that’ll look great in your office.

The first thing to consider is material. At first, soft mats may feel good underfoot, but materials that are too spongey can force the small stability muscles in toes and feet to overwork, leading to fatigue. Instead, look for a mat made from high-density foam or memory foam that has a little give for comfort but enough resistance to keep you stable. Some mats have a gel layer above dense foam, which will offer a little more bounce than regular foam; some people appreciate this small bit of squishiness, but overall, it’s a matter of preference. Either way, a 0.75-inch-thick mat will provide adequate support for most people and won’t wear down any time soon.

For small spaces, you can opt for a mat as compact as 20 by 32 inches, but if you like to spread out, you can find one as large as 20 by 76 inches. Speaking of spreading out, keeping your feet and calves engaged while standing at a desk can help promote circulation and relieve strain, and a unique topographic mat can help you do just that. These 3-D mats feature terrain, like raised side rails and toe holds which encourage movement and stretching.

All comfort mats for standing should have nonslip bottoms and — preferably — beveled surfaces that prevent tripping. Whichever anti-fatigue mat you choose, it will help improve the experience of working at a standing desk. Here are five highly rated options to consider.

1. The overall best

Boasting a stellar 4.8-star overall rating after more than 20,000 reviews, the ComfiLife anti-fatigue mat is a fan favorite that comes at a reasonable price point. The 0.75-inch mat is made with a high-density memory foam core that absorbs impact and provides cushioning support for long days on your feet, and the mat’s no-curl, beveled edges help prevent the risk of tripping. A nonskid base further enhances safety by keeping the mat planted in place, and spills and stains wipe easily from the durable surface.

One reviewer wrote: “I chose this [mat] after I received a standing desk at work. It has been amazing so far. I have no foot pain or lower back pain. It definitely encourages me to stand at my desk for at least 5 hours a day.”

  • Thickness: 0.75 inch
  • Available sizes: 20 x 32 inches, 20 x 39 inches, 24 x 70 inches
  • Available colors: 13

2. The best value

The Royal anti-fatigue comfort mat is a budget-friendly option with a 4.6-star overall rating after 3,000 reviews and counting. It’s made with a 0.75-inch core of high-density foam that provides support to feet and relieves pressure on joints, and the textured, nonslip surface is stain- and spill-resistant. The nonskid bottom stays firmly in place on hard-surface floors, and the beveled corners resist curling and give the mat a low-profile edge that prevents tripping.

One reviewer wrote: “I just bought a stand-up desk and could not do without the anti-fatigue comfort mat. I use it on our hardwood floors - I have no problem with it slipping at all. It's just super comfortable and makes it so much more comfortable for me to stand almost all day at my desk. Love it!”

  • Thickness: 0.75 inch
  • Available sizes: 20 x 32 inches, 20 x 39 inches, 24 x 36 inches
  • Available colors: 3

3. The best topographic mat

Many would argue that sitting at a desk can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle than standing, however it’s still possible for the body to become stagnant when parked upright in front of a workstation for hours a day. To keep you moving, the Ergodriven Topo mat features a varied terrain that encourages feet to wander and stretch while promoting circulation. On top of the heavy foam base, you’ll find a variety of elevated surfaces, like raised side rails, a calf raise shelf, a back ramp, and corners that are angled up. By keeping the lower half of your body moving, you’ll distribute pressure instead of accumulating strain that can come from standing in one position for too long. Keep in mind that the high elevation of this mat means you’ll want to move it out of the way when you’re not using it to prevent any tripping.

The full-size Topo mat gives you plenty of room to move, but if you want something more compact and less expensive, the Topo Mini is a good choice, but it’s best suited to those 5 feet 4 inches and under.

One reviewer wrote: “I loved my standing desk, but it was rough on my feet and legs. What a difference with this mat! I LOVE doing the calf stretches and arch massage on the shapes.”

  • Thickness: 2.5 inches
  • Available sizes: Full-size (29 x 26.25 inches), Mini (25.2 x 19.2 inches)
  • Available colors: 4

4. The best mat with a top layer of gel

Some people prefer the bounce-back of of a gel surface, in which case this anti-fatigue mat is a good pick, combining a core of dense, energy-return foam with a top layer of gel. The 0.75-inch mat has a nonslip bottom that keeps it planted in place, and the beveled edges help prevent trips and curling. The mat has an easy-to-clean top surface that’s textured to give feet a firm grip, and it’s water- and stain-resistant. It comes in an impressive range of 37 colors and styles, so you can choose one that complements your workspace.

One reviewer wrote: “Amazingly soft and comfortable gel mat. I tried couple of products, this is far superior and easy on the knees.”

  • Thickness: 0.75 inch
  • Available sizes: 20 x 36 inches, 20 x 48 inches, 20 x 72 inches
  • Available colors and styles: 16

5. The best rug & mat combo

If you don’t want your anti-fatigue mat to scream “anti-fatigue mat,” this rug and standing mat combo is a unique pick that combines aesthetics with comfort. The anti-fatigue mat is made with 0.5 inch of energy-return foam (so it’s less thick than other options on the list) with a nonslip bottom and beveled, anti-curl edges to help prevent tripping. Of course, the brilliant part: The removable and machine-washable rug is specifically designed to be used in concert with the mat, thanks to the high-traction underside and four adhesive “Gelly Grippers” at each corner that help keep the two pieces locked together. The rug comes in a handful of styles that will add a nice design touch to any workspace, but — as mentioned — the anti-fatigue mat is a little less dense, so it may offer slightly less support than other options. Keep in mind that the rug is also sold on its own, so you’ll want to be sure you’ve selected the rug and mat combo before heading to checkout.

One reviewer wrote: “This clever system provides style and comfort. It consists of an area rug and a smaller anti-fatigue mat. The rug portion is thin and lowvpile. The dusty blue pattern is lovely. [...] I have a standing desk and some back issues. This system makes working while standing markedly more comfortable.”

  • Thickness: 0.5 inch
  • Available sizes: 24 x 34 inches, 24 x 76 inches
  • Available colors and styles: 6

Studies referenced:

Heron, L., O’Neill, C., McAneney, H., Kee, F., Tully, M. (2019). Direct healthcare costs of sedentary behaviour in the UK. Retrieved from https://jech.bmj.com/content/73/7/625

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