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Does Standing While Working Burn Calories?

Standing versus sitting at work has been quite the issue recently. According to research, the average person spends anywhere from eight hours up to twelve hours a day sitting, looking at the computer or watching television. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can lead to several health risks. Individuals who have a desk job are one of the most susceptible to these health risks, especially if they also lead a sedentary lifestyle. 

Even if someone does exercise on a regular basis, it may not be enough to counter the effects of prolonged sitting. Sitting makes people quite sedentary, especially at work.  Recently, it has been suggested that working while standing can make a significant difference to a person’s overall health. 

Standing burns calories and reduces the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and overall lowers the mortality risk. Interested in knowing exactly how standing burns calories? Read on to find out.

Is It Better to Stand or Sit at Work?

Sitting has been likened to smoking as it can trigger a wide range of health problems. People who spend more time sitting versus standing for extended periods have been shown to have an increased risk in having heart problems, cancers, body aches, and more. Sitting for long periods can even lead to weight gain and poor circulation. 

The CDC has recommended that it’s ideal to have an average of 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity in a week to counter some of the negative effects of sitting. Aside from any exercise, it’s also suggested to transition between sitting and standing during work. Having a balance between the two is ideal as sitting for too long can lead to health issues, and standing for hours can also lead to foot pain and leg pain among others. 

Alternating between sitting and standing can prevent too much pressure on the body and promotes movement as well. As a general rule, it’s recommended to shift positions every half hour or one hour in order to make the most of the sit-stand method of working. 

Does Standing at Work Burn More Calories?

One of the ways that sitting damages the body is how it deals with sugar. The body breaks down food into glucose, which gets transported in the blood through other cells. While glucose is essential, high levels of it increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

The pancreas helps regulate glucose levels using the hormone insulin, but its efficiency can also be affected by how physically active a person is. A team of researchers from the University of Chester conducted an experiment where 10 volunteer individuals who work as estate agents were made to stand for at least three hours a day for a week.

The volunteers were made to wear an accelerometer to record how much movement they were doing. Additionally, they also wore heart rate monitors and glucose monitors to measure their blood sugar levels constantly, day and night. The researchers recorded measurements on days when the volunteers stood and during when they were sat around. From this experiment, the researchers found that the blood glucose levels fell back to normal levels quickly on the days when volunteers stood than when they sat. 

Through the heart rate monitors, results showed that by standing, the volunteers were also burning more calories. On an average of 10 beats per minute, the volunteers’ results showed that standing burned a difference of about 0.7 of a calorie per minute. It may not sound like much, but that amount adds up to 50 calories per hour. Standing three hours for five days can result in 750 calories burned. Adding it up for over a course of a year, it would be around 30,000 total calories or around 8 lb. of fat. 

So, does standing burn calories? Yes, it can. You might think that the number of calories burned per hour as you stand seems little, but as we mentioned, adding it all up actually results in a great number of calories burned. When you sit or lie down, you burn the fewest number of calories. When you’re on your feet, you activate muscle mass, leading to a larger amount of calories burned.

Does Standing at Work Help You Lose Weight?

Simply standing at work alone does not make one lose weight, but it does make an impact in weight loss when done with other simple habits. It could also help prevent weight gain. Walking up or down three flights of stairs combined with standing at your desk instead of sitting can help burn 350 more calories per day.

Take into consideration other physical activities as well. Gardening, doing the dishes, walking your dog over the course of a week, a month, or even a year can add up and make a difference when it comes to better health. 

Having a regular exercise regimen is highly important to keep the body strong and healthy. You might be concerned about calories and think that eating less will help you lose weight, but weight loss from dieting may result in losing more muscle mass. The less muscle mass a person has, the fewer calories they lose. This is why a good exercise regimen should be something that can improve your health and body composition.

Exercising regularly or making small adjustments like taking the stairs at work, walking around more or getting a stand-up desk converter or treadmill desk to help you transition from sitting to standing can help in burning calories and keeping you fit and healthy.

Calculating How Many Calories Burned When Standing

Before calculating how many calories you burn when you stand, it’s important to understand caloric burn first. There are two terms related to this: caloric expenditure and metabolic equivalent. Caloric expenditure, which is also known as calorie burn, is the amount of energy the body uses in a specific period of time. On the other hand, the metabolic equivalent (MET) is the amount of oxygen used per minute while performing an activity.

Caloric expenditure can be measured through multiplying a person’s body weight in kilograms by the duration of an activity in hours and the intensity of the activity in MET values. The MET is a way to express energy expenditure for various activities. 

Calorie burn calculators may have several different algorithms when it comes to calculating how many calories a person can burn sitting versus standing, but all roads point to one certain thing: a person’s calorie burn per hour is directly related to body mass, activity duration, and the intensity of the activity. 

On average, a larger person can burn more calories per hour than someone who is smaller. It also depends on the length of time performing the activity. Standing for hours burns more total calories than standing for only an hour. 

Simple Standing Exercises To Burn Calories

You might now be interested in standing at work so you can burn more calories. Add in these basic workouts to increase your calorie burn and say goodbye to additional calories and fat. Do remember to always use your best judgment when you experience discomfort. It’s always great to seek a doctor who can provide medical advice and help you set a goal for your needs. 

Hamstring Stretch

Put your right foot forward and point your toes towards the sky. Bend your left knee slowly until you feel a stretch on your left hamstring. Repeat with the other leg.

Glute Squeeze

Contract your glutes and thighs firmly as you stand. Hold for 5 seconds, then relax and lower yourself back down.

Abdominal Flexes

Flex your core muscles as you stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Simply brace yourself as if you were preparing to get hit in the stomach.

Quad Stretches

Stand on your left leg and bend your right knee. Pull your right foot up towards your butt until you feel a stretch in your right quads. Repeat with the other leg.

Standing Calf Raises

With your legs straight and abdominal muscles flexed, raise your heels as high as you can go while balancing on your toes. You should start to feel a stretch in your calf muscles if you’re doing these right.

We hope that this article was able to provide you with information about calorie burn when standing as opposed to sitting. Improve your overall well-being by simply spending more time standing than sitting each day. What are you waiting for? Go on and start standing at work!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is standing for 8 hours bad?

For some people, standing for eight hours straight can cause tension and tightness in the calves, hamstrings, and lower back. It could also lead to aches in the ankles, knees, and hips. It’s recommended to change positions often. Switching between sitting and standing every hour or two will do wonders for your body and overall health.

Which standing desk is the best?

If you’re determined to lose extra calories by standing at work, standing desks can help you out with that. Check out our guide to the best standing desks to see which one is fit for you.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.