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Burning Calories Without Breaking a Sweat - Does Standing Burn Calories?

10 min read
Published on 16 May, 2023

As you settle into your workplace, a sense of unease may begin, as if sitting is conspiring against your well-being. It dawns on you that the modern work culture has inadvertently ensnared you in a sedentary lifestyle, one that wreaks havoc on your body and mind.

But amidst this alarming realization, a simple yet transformative solution beckons. You should stand and work more often, for it not only offers respite from the perils of prolonged sitting but also serves as a stealthy ally in your quest for a healthier lifestyle. And yes, it burns more calories than your sedentary counterparts.

Well, everyone knows that standing while working lowers our chance of developing certain medical issues, such as obesity and heart disease, compared to sitting. However, the difference in calories burnt between the two postures is a frequently asked subject.

One of the largest health improvement trends in recent years, especially at work, has been the preference for standing over sitting. Over the next seven years, the worldwide market for standing desks is expected to grow to $2.8 billion.

But putting popularity aside, how much healthier is standing compared to sitting? What posture burns more calories? Let’s dive into this blog to learn more.

The Basics of "Calorie Burning"

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By monitoring your caloric intake and expenditure, you can control your weight. You acquire weight when you consume more calories than your body requires for energy. You can lose weight by eating fewer calories or by exercising more to burn more calories.

Even though numerous diets claim certain methods for weight loss, all of them revolve around either eating fewer calories than your body normally burns or increasing your level of physical activity.

As you consume and burn more or fewer calories, it's natural for your weight to change. You could eventually achieve a balance you can keep up without counting the calories you consume or burn.

Let’s start by defining two frequently used concepts about metabolism: caloric expenditure and metabolic equivalent.

Caloric expenditure, commonly called calorie burning, refers to how much energy your body utilizes over time. A metabolic equivalent (MET) is the quantity of oxygen consumed each minute during an activity. At rest, one MET is equivalent to 3.5 ml of oxygen per kilogram of body weight every minute. It is frequently referred to as your resting metabolic rate.

Caloric expenditure may also be determined by dividing your body weight in kilograms by the number of hours and METS of an activity. The MET concept allows for the expression of energy use as a multiple of resting metabolic rate for a variety of activities. For instance, brisk walking may be assigned a value of 5.0 METS, meaning that you'll use five times as much energy going quickly as sitting still.

The following equation may be used to represent caloric expenditure:
Caloric expenditure is calculated as - weight (kg) x time (hours) x intensity (METS)

Suggested Read: Everything You Need To Know About Calories Burned While Walking

Calculating the number of calories burned while standing

A "MET" is a unit of measurement for the energy expenditure during sustained physical exercise.

The energy required to do an activity with a MET of 1 is about equivalent to what it would take to sit stationary at room temperature without actively digesting meals.

Two times as much energy is burned on a work with a MET of 2 as on a task with a MET of 1. Similarly, compared to an activity with a MET of 1, a task with a MET of 10 requires ten times as much energy.

According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, MET values "do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, the efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large, and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium."

For example -

The standing MET value (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) is used in this computation. Standing has a MET value of 1. The person's body weight in kilograms is multiplied by the MET value.

After that, we multiply it by 0.0175 and the number of minutes.

Weight of a person - 180 lbs
Duration - 30 minutes
MET value of Standing - 1
The number of calories burned by standing for 30 minutes is calculated as follows:
(180/2.20462) * 1 * 0.0175 * 30 minutes = 43

Therefore, standing for 30 minutes burns 43 calories.

Suggested Read: Step Up Your Fitness Game - How Many Steps to Burn 500 Calories?

Does the number of calories you burn depend on your height and weight?

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It goes without saying that exercise burns calories. Your body also burns calories when doing daily chores, like breathing and eating.

Your age, weight, height, and muscle mass may all affect your metabolism and the calories your body requires to perform its basic activities. Your body burns more calories each day to perform these vital tasks.

The number of calories you burn may also depend on your age. As people age, they often lose muscle. You burn fewer calories when you have less muscle mass.

Suggested Read: Try NEAT Exercises To Burn Your Calories Faster

What's the difference in calories while standing and sitting?

The number of calories an average individual may burn by switching between sitting and standing over an 8-hour workday is shown in the figures below.

Men typically have more muscle mass, which leads to higher caloric expenditure. You normally burn calories quicker when you have more muscle mass.

Graph for the Average American Female

The total number of calories burnt during an 8-hour workday for a 20-year-old female who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall is shown in the chart below.

Weight (pounds) Calories burned after 8 hours of sitting Calories burned after 4 hours of sitting & 4 hours of standing Difference in calories burned over 8 hours Difference in calories burned per hour
100 453 691 238 29.75
120 484 737 253 31.625
140 514 784 270 33.75
160 545 830 285 35.625
180 575 877 302 37.75
200 606 923 317 39.625
220 636 969 333 41.625
240 667 1016 349 43.625
260 697 1062 365 45.625
280 727 1109 382 47.75
300 758 1155 397 49.625

Graph for the Average American Male

The total number of calories burnt by a 20-year-old boy who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall during an 8-hour workday is shown in the chart below.

Weight (pounds) Calories burned after 8 hours of sitting Calories burned after 4 hours of sitting & 4 hours of standing Difference in calories burned over 8 hours Difference in calories burned per hour
100 500 762 262 32.75
120 543 828 285 35.625
140 587 895 308 38.5
160 631 961 330 41.25
180 674 1027 353 44.125
200 718 1094 376 47
220 761 1160 399 49.875
240 805 1227 422 52.75
260 849 1293 444 55.5
280 892 1360 468 58.5
300 936 1426 490 61.25

Benefits of Standing vs. Sitting to Burn Calories

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According to several studies, humans often burn more calories while standing than sitting. According to one research, people who weigh 143 pounds burn 0.15 more calories each minute when standing than sitting. Standing for atleast three hours a day instead of sitting results in an additional 27 calories burned. This may not seem like much, but it adds up to three pounds yearly.

Another research calculated the average number of calories a group of individuals burnt when sitting, standing, and walking. They burnt 80 calories each hour while seated. Walking burned 210 calories per hour, plus another eight calories while standing still.

Your chance of developing various health disorders rises when you sit for extended periods.

Spending a long time sitting increases your risk for some health conditions. Studies have showed, prolonged periods of sitting are associated with a higher risk of -

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular (heart) disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer, particularly breast or colon cancer
  • Premature death

Increasing your standing duration may reduce your risk for the illnesses mentioned above. Your actions to enhance your activity level and calorie expenditure might benefit your health. You could be more likely to exercise if you stand up more throughout the day.

Risks of Standing to Burn Calories

It difficult to stand more if you’re used to spending the day at a desk. Hence, a standing desk enables you to continue working when you are standing if you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk all day.

Back, leg, or foot discomfort might result from abruptly switching from a day of sitting to a day of standing. Instead, gradually increase your time spent standing by starting with 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

Sit down and take regular rests. Set a timer to remind you to stand up at particular times of the day if it may assist. Some things are simpler to complete while seated. Choose your tasks based on whether you perform them best when standing or sitting.

Better Methods to Burn Calories

Look for methods to include more movement in your day if you want to lose more weight. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to do moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.

For example, you can exercise for 30 minutes on average 5 days a week. You can also aim for 75 minutes of activity each week if you enjoy more strenuous activities, like running. This may take five days a week for an average of 15 minutes.

You can also dedicate two days a week to strength training. You burn more calories when you lift weights and push your muscles to expand. This way, your calorie burn increases during and after the exercise because muscle burns more calories than fat.

How to increase the time you stand at work?

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Adding 10 to 15 minutes of standing time to your day may be a good place to start. And then progressively increasing from there may prove useful.

You may choose how to add these minutes. As a general guideline, stand up for at least one minute after 30 minutes of sitting. You have one minute to continue standing or sit again for 30 minutes.

You may stand up more at work by doing the following:

  • Try using a standing desk instead of a sitting one.
  • Get up while answering the phone.
  • Conduct meetings in a standing mode rather than sitting at a desk.
  • Set a reminder to stand for a few minutes every hour.

Items That Can Be Useful

If you have a desk job, discuss switching to a more active arrangement with your manager or the human resources department.

For instance, sit-stand workstations can help you spend less time sitting down. Cycling workstations and treadmill desks may both promote mobility while working.

The most crucial component of standing is proper alignment. When using a standing desk, check that:

  • Your monitor's top is level with your eyes.
  • You can rest your upper arms close to your torso.
  • You can rest your hands at elbow height or lower.

Speak to a doctor or other healthcare provider about your symptoms if you have discomfort when standing.

They may suggest the following tools:

  • Sole insertions - You can put inserts in your shoes to support your arches. The extra padding might also lessen discomfort and tiredness.

  • Sturdy footwear - Investing in footwear with proper arch support can also aid balance and general alignment.

  • Standing cushions or pads- To relieve strain on your knees, feet, and back, lay them beneath your feet.

Takeaway

Standing provides many health advantages and, when done simultaneously with sitting, seems to burn more calories. When standing at work, those with larger body masses would burn much more calories per hour than people with lower body masses. Due to various health disorders or orthopedic conditions like osteoarthritis, some people can only stand for short periods.

A person with severe knee arthritis probably won't be able to stand at work for eight hours. In this situation, alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day would be the best action.

This combination will lessen the chance of aggravating any previous musculoskeletal disorders like-

  • Osteoarthritis while standing
  • Preventing low back discomfort while sitting, and
  • Boosting your metabolism with walking.

Walking is a good exercise that burns more calories than sitting or standing. But compared to sitting, standing as you work burns more calories. The ideal strategy is to alternate between sitting and standing during the day, beginning with a 50/50 split if practicable.

Remember to pause and take brief walks to boost your metabolism and prevent "sitting disease". Doing this will give you the advantages of standing and greater calorie burning without experiencing pain in your hips, knees, or ankles.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

1. Does standing burn calories?

Yes, standing burns calories. While the calorie burn rate is generally lower than with more vigorous activities, it is still higher than with sitting or lying down.

2. Is standing more effective for burning calories than sitting?

Yes, standing is more effective for burning calories than sitting. When you stand, your muscles are engaged, and you burn more energy than in a sedentary position.

3. Does standing help with weight loss?

Standing can contribute to weight loss when combined with other healthy lifestyle habits. While it alone may not lead to significant weight loss, incorporating regular movement, exercise, and standing can positively impact it.

This article is written by Ritushree R Singh, who is a content writer and marketer at Vantage Circle. Besides having a curious heart with an avid taste for music, she relishes traveling to new places and exploring different cultures whenever possible. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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