You don’t need the latest in workout technology to live a healthier lifestyle. All you need to do is…stand up! A sedentary lifestyle of working in a seated position at a desk can be detrimental to your health. In contrast, active standing while working has numerous health benefits, from burning additional calories to reducing the risk of heart and metabolic diseases. There is a reason why modern offices with standing desks promote a better work or study culture. It starts with making employee’s health a priority, which leads to increased productivity, body confidence, and overall well-being.
Why Standing Desks Burn Calories
On average, people sit for 7.7 hours a day, which combined with the amount of time we are sleeping, means that we aren’t on our feet for very long. Unsurprisingly, obesity rates have continued to rise, with 1 in 5 American adults classified as morbidly obese. This sedentary lifestyle, combined with unhealthy eating habits, gives rise to weight gain throughout our youth and adult populations.
Does standing burn calories? Yes. Does standing burn more calories than sitting? Absolutely! While standing doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise, you will increase “passive” calories burned by standing and staying more active. So, how many calories does a standing desk burn? Believe it or not, you can burn up to 30,000 calories over the course of a year by standing for just three additional hours each workday. In easier to understand terms, that’s the equivalent of eight pounds of fat! To reach this level of calorie burn with exercise, you would have to run 10 marathons; or, simply stand up.
Top Standing Desk Benefits
Standing desk burn calories but they have other benefits too. From weight loss to preventing varicose veins and cardiovascular disease, standing desks offer numerous benefits for the body. Below, discover just a few of the most touted pros of using a standing desk.
- Higher Productivity: Studies show that office workers who use a standing desk and alternate between positions throughout the day are more focused and therefore, more productive than those who sat all day.
- Increased Metabolic Function: Staying in one position for too long starts to inhibit metabolic function, therefore slowing down the number and rate of calories burned. A slowing of your metabolic rate can not only make you gain weight, but also make you feel more sluggish, and eventually, put you at a greater risk of chronic disease. A sit-stand desk allows you to burn extra calories and keeps your metabolic system functioning optimally.
- Reduced Strain on Your Back: One of the most common health benefits people experience from standing desks is that it reduces back pain.
- Better Circulation: When you sit for long periods of time, blood can pool in dependent areas, causing blockages that produce unsightly veins and increase the risk of developing heart disease. Standing up helps regulate blood flow.
- Improved Blood Sugar Levels: A stand-up desk can help regulate blood glucose levels, lowering your risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes.
- Improved Mental Health: Standing up throughout the day will give you more energy. You’ll feel better and find that your mood is more balanced.
5 Easy Exercises/Stretches to Increase Standing Desk Calories Burned
We’ve learned how a standing desk burns calories but, another benefit about working at a standing desk is that you can take breaks by doing small amounts of physical activity in place. Standing desks burn calories on their own, but interspersing these easy exercises throughout the day will help prevent weight gain and increase your calories burned at a standing desk.
- Arm Pulses: While standing with your arms at your side, pulse your arms backward for 20 seconds. Palms should be flat and facing backward.
- Chair Squats: Squat backward with your arms bent and hands clasped. Squat until you are just about to sit into your ergonomic chair and then stand back up.
- Tiptoe Raises: Raise and lower your body by going up onto tiptoe and back down 20x. This works the calves and can be done while you are still typing.
- Neck Rolls: Don’t forget about your neck health! Roll your neck in a clockwise position slowly five times, then repeat counterclockwise. This will not only stretch out your neck, which might be tense from looking at the computer, but it will also relax your shoulders and can relieve stress.
- Toe Touch: Take a break to stretch your hamstrings by reaching down to touch your toes. Let gravity pull your body down with your arms and neck completely relaxed, rather than forceful / active reaching. Knees can be bent.
Extra Support for Your Standing Desk
Standing throughout the day can bring on fatigue in excess or early in use, so you may want to set up an ergonomic sit-stand workstation. You may like some extra support from your office accessories, including but not limited to:
- Ergonomic standing desk chair. You can’t stand all the time, and therefore having an ergonomic chair to aid posture and support you while sitting is a great addition for desk jobs.
- Supportive shoes with arch support.
- An anti-fatigue mat that cushions your feet and evenly distributes pressure.
- Under desk elliptical that lets you do an easy cycle workout.
The Correct Way to Stand
Standing doesn’t do you much good if you are slouching and putting extra strain on your joints and muscles. In a correct standing posture, you should be standing neutrally with your feet shoulder-distance apart, knees not locked and slightly bent, stomach pulled in, head level, and shoulders back and down. Don’t worry, there’s no drill sergeant that comes with the desk .
Don’t Forget to Exercise and Eat Well
As amazing as working standing up can be for your health, it’s not a replacement for exercise. You’ll experience an increased calorie burn if you supplement your standing desk with exercising at least five days a week for at least 30 minutes. Exercising and eating healthy foods, combined with standing while at work, will make you feel better on a daily basis. In addition, people who are sedentary have a greatly increased risk of all-cause mortality than those who have a more active lifestyle. Don’t just stand for your productivity levels, do it for your life!
Medically Reviewed by Josh Barber, MD June 7th, 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of a standing desk?
How many calories does a standing desk burn?
When using a standing desk, an individual burns about 88 calories an hour compared to the 80 calories burned while sitting. While these additional 8 calories may not seem like much, adjustable desks offer many additional health benefits.
Learn about the benefits of adjustable desks here.
How to use a standing desk
To achieve the benefits of a standing desk, it is important to adjust the platform to your height. While knowing your height and health conditions are required for best results, the rule of thumb is to raise your standing desk to elbows’ height with the screen at eye-level and your wrists equal to the desk surface.
For in-depth instructions, follow our standing desk height guide.