Are You Really Burning More Calories Standing All Day?

Are You Really Burning More Calories Standing All Day?

So you or your company has invested in a standing desk for you to use at work. Congratulations! You have taken a stand for a healthier lifestyle even amid the busyness of your job and the demand for productivity. You might not be able to carve out time to hit the gym after work as often as you’d like, but at least you will be fighting the harmful effects of “sitting disease” as you get all the other important stuff done. 

But in the long run, will standing burn enough calories to deliver the health and fitness you crave?

A standing desk is certainly a step in the right direction. Studies clearly show standing has many health benefits over sitting. Standing, even just one minute after every 30 minutes of sitting, can improve circulation and posture, reduce chronic back pain, and increase your energy levels.

For those who use a standing desk well and work their way up to standing for at least half the workday, the benefits grow exponentially. The habit of standing can help manage weight and lower the risks of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers (1).

When you stand, you engage your muscles more thoroughly and allow your body to utilize NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the energy your body uses for everything you do that is not sleeping, eating, or moving with exercise-intensity (2).

So, do you burn more calories when you stand all day? Because of NEAT, you do! According to a data analysis of more than 50 other studies, standing burns an average of 0.15 more calories per minute than sitting. For a person who weighs 140 pounds and who stands for six hours during the day, that adds up to 54 extra calories burned (3). Hooray! The minimal effort of just standing makes this feel like a win; that is until you realize that one Reese’s Egg you ate from your Easter basket had 170 calories!

Like with so many good things, it is easy to get caught up in all the hype about the benefits of standing and end up with a false sense of accomplishment. Though a great start, using a standing desk cannot be where your fitness journey ends!

The research supports this too. In nearly every study about the benefits of standing versus sitting, researchers have noted that movement is critical. It is not enough to just stand all day. Most studies recommend a constant up and down: sit for 15-30 minutes, then stand for the rest of the hour.

Standing all the time, while not precisely sedentary, is still static. If you want to burn a significant number of calories and reach your health and fitness goals, get moving!

Here are three simple steps you can take today to work towards those health benefits you desire!

1. Utilize your standing desk well. Get the most out of your standing desk by alternating standing and sitting, and work towards standing 4-6 hours each day, but don’t stop there!

2. Intentionally add extra movement to your day to maximize NEAT. Even “trivial physical activities” add up to more calories burned and better overall health (2). Start by planning a few extra movements each day and practicing them until they become habits. Then add in a few more!

Here are some easy ideas:
    • Park farther away from the door.
    • Pace when you talk on the phone.
    • Use the restroom on a different floor and take the stairs to get there.
    • Use a product like the Standing Desk Bike with your sit-to-stand desk to add movement while you work.
3. Challenge yourself to find more intentional ways you can move at work. Check out our blog about 17 Great Exercises to Do at Work for some ideas of stretches and exercises that work as well in the office as they do at the gym. Start running up the stairs instead of walking. Do a set of jumping jacks after each phone call, or push yourself when you walk or cycle as you work.

You can achieve the lifestyle you want, or you can stand still and settle for good enough.

We at FitDesk are cheering for you to move into your best future, and we’d love to be part of your journey. Check out our products that could help today!