The simple act of standing instead of sitting may help you burn 20 to 50 more calories per hour, depending on your size. Although that may not seem like a lot in a 2,000-calorie day, making the standing adjustment for four hours each day can burn an extra 80 to 200 calories — helping you lose 8 to 20 pounds over the course of a year. Standing more often also contributes to an overall better sense of well-being and health.
Choosing to stand instead of sit can help you burn 20 to 50 extra calories per hour. Although that might not sound like much, it adds up quickly over the course of a workday.
Calories Burned Sitting
A 130-pound woman burns a scant 78 calories in an hour while sitting quietly. If you sit for eight hours of your day, that burns only 624 calories, which is less than what many people consume at dinner.
In addition, a sedentary lifestyle contributes to obesity and health complications. Even dedicated gym-goers who put in their 30 minutes every day on the treadmill are at risk if they spend a majority of their waking hours sitting.
Calories Burned Standing
A 130-pound woman burns about 99 calories per hour standing quietly, which totals 792 calories over eight hours. Standing qualifies as nonexercise activity thermogenesis, also known as NEAT, which encompasses those everyday activities that help burn calories, such as fidgeting, gesturing and shivering.
Adding these types of activity creates a bigger calorie burn and assists in weight loss. Standing also often leads to other movement, such as pacing while on the phone or walking to the copier. These small movements add up to more calories burned over the course of the day.
For Posture, Standing Is Superior
Standing improves your posture and reduces aches and stiffness. People who choose to stand over sitting note that their minds feel more clear and that they have a better ability to concentrate. In contrast, sitting compresses the spine and tightens the chest, shoulder and neck muscles. Poorly designed chairs further exacerbate postural problems and inflexibility caused by excessive sitting.
Sitting and Disease Risk
Author Neville Owen, who surveyed multiple studies on the effects of sedentary lifestyles, concluded that an increasingly sedentary lifestyle contributes to the growing rates of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, some cancers and other adverse health outcomes.
His conclusions, published in the February 2014 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, recommend possible interventions to break up people's daily sitting time as part of public health practice.
A Possible Work Solution
Ergonomically designed elevated desks, although pricey, are becoming available in some workplaces. Adjustable sit/stand desks are also becoming more common as are less-expensive elevated "pedestals" that you can place between your desk and computer to elevate the computer to an ergonomic standing height.
Some companies are experimenting with slow treadmill-based desks to increase workers' physical activity throughout the day. Even if you do not have access to these progressive options, you can make an effort to get up more often throughout the day.
If you are tied to your desk, increase your nonwork activity: Take a walk during your lunch break, ask to hold walking meetings instead of desk-based meetings, park farther away in the parking lot and move as much as you can in the evenings and on weekends.