Burning calories is necessary for weight loss. And when you barely have enough time for the gym, you may look for every opportunity to up your calorie burn. But does standing really burn more calories than sitting?
The short answer is yes. Standing does require more energy than sitting. However, the difference isn’t as significant as you might think.
A 143-pound person will approximately burn 0.15 more calories per minute by standing, compared to sitting. This means that if you stand for six hours, you’d burn an extra 54 calories than if you sat for the same amount of time.
In this article, we’ll discuss the calorie burn of standing vs. sitting, how standing can lead to weight loss and whether there are any risks associated with standing for long periods.
How Does Standing Burn Calories?
The human body is very efficient at using energy, meaning it takes a lot of calories to make it work. Digestion, respiration, and brain function all require energy even when we are at rest.
Weight-bearing activities, like standing and walking, also require more energy than non-weight-bearing activities, such as sitting. This is because your muscles have to work harder to support your body against gravity.
The number of calories you burn while standing vs. sitting depends on your weight, how long you stand, and your level of activity.
So is standing better than sitting for weight loss? Let’s find out.
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Standing Vs. Sitting Weight Loss
To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, which means you need to burn more calories than you consume (3)– and standing can help you do just that.
Standing may also lead to more non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)— meaning any physical activity that isn’t intentional exercise, such as fidgeting.
Moreover, while the calorie burn from NEAT isn’t significant, it can add up over time and help you create a calorie deficit to lose weight.
So, standing does have some benefits for weight loss. However, it’s important to remember that it’s only a small part of the puzzle. You also need to focus on your diet and exercise routine to lose weight.
Why A Standing Desk May Be Good For You?
While standing alone is unlikely to help you lose a lot of weight, there are some health benefits associated with using a standing desk or moving more throughout the day:
More Stable Blood Sugar Levels
After a meal, your blood sugar levels rise. On top of that, if you spend most of your day sitting, your body has a harder time regulating these levels. Whereas, standing more often can help (1).
More stable blood sugar levels are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Reduced Shoulder And Back Pain
Sitting for long hours can lead to poor posture and tension in the shoulders and back. Conditions like sciatica may also arise from sitting for prolonged periods.
Standing can help reduce the risk of these problems (std).
Weight-bearing activities, like standing, help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis (1).
Standing desks have also been shown to improve productivity and mood, likely due to the increase in NEAT.
So, there are some benefits to using a standing desk. But it’s important to find the balance that works for you.
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Risks Of Standing For Long Periods Of Time
While there are some benefits associated with standing, there are also some risks, including:
- Varicose veins: These are enlarged veins that can occur when your muscles don’t work to push blood back up to your heart. This can happen when you stand for a long time without moving (2).
- Muscle fatigue: When standing for long periods, your muscles can become tired and sore. This is especially true if you have poor posture.
- Foot and ankle problems: Wearing high heels or standing on hard surfaces for long can lead to foot and ankle problems.
- Swollen feet and legs: When you stand for a long time, gravity pulls the blood in your veins to your feet. This can cause swelling in your feet and legs (2).
If you have any health conditions, it’s important to talk to your doctor before using a standing desk or increasing your standing time.
How To Incorporate More Standing Into Your Day?
If you want to add more standing to your day, there are a few things you can do:
- Invest in a height-adjustable desk so you can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
- Set a goal to stand for at least 2 to 3 minutes every hour.
- Take walking breaks often. And when you’re on the phone, pace around instead of sitting.
- Stand during commercial breaks when watching TV.
- Park your car further away from your destination so you can get in some extra steps.
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Standing burns more calories than sitting. However, it’s important to remember that it’s only a small part of the puzzle when it comes to weight loss. You also need to focus on your diet and exercise routine.
If you want to add more standing into your day, there are a few things you can do, like investing in a height-adjustable desk or taking walking breaks. Remember, it’s important to find the balance that works best for you. Moreover, if you have any health conditions, talk to your doctor before making any changes.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Are Standing Desks Better for You? (2020, clevelandclinic.org)
- Evidence of Health Risks Associated with Prolonged Standing at Work and Intervention Effectiveness (2015, nih.gov)
- Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021, nih.gov)