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How Many Calories Are Burned with Standing Desks?

How Many Calories Are Burned with Standing Desks?

At this point, the scientific evidence is omnipresent to the point of becoming irrefutable. But, unfortunately, we are sitting too much at work and at home, and it's doing terrible things to our bodies and minds.

New findings even indicate that regular exercise may not counteract the negative health issues associated with prolonged periods of daily sitting.

With sitting once labelled a "lethal activity" by Dr. James A. Levine of the Mayo Clinic, and with the top contemporary jobs requiring hours upon hours of face time in front of a computer screen, the situation may seem hopeless.

Workers today burn fewer calories at work than their counterparts from decades past, mainly because the good jobs in the information age often involve sitting in front of a stationary computer screen for the entire day.

Their findings showed a direct correlation between a person's annual salary and the number of hours that they spend working at a desk.

Given all the facts, it might sometimes feel like you're forced to choose between your career and your good health. Thankfully, an ergonomic answer for the beleaguered and desk-bound modern worker exists in the form of the standing desk.

Numerous studies in recent years have tied the regular use of a stand-up desk to decreased risks of obesity, diabetes, colon cancer and many other serious medical disorders. As our work and leisure lives revolve more and more around screens, sit-to-stand desks have become an essential part of every health-conscious home and office.

One of the biggest reported benefits of a standing desk is that standing all day is much healthier than sitting for eight hours. For most people, being able to burn calories with a standing desk is a good tradeoff for being on your feet all day. However, how many calories do you burn at a standing desk?

It does sound good, right? Then, of course, you have to stand up, and the weight you've been fighting to get rid of just slides off. However, how many calories burned at a standing desk equals meaningful weight gain? Do standing desks really contribute that much to weight loss?

First Things First: What Is A Calorie?

Unfortunately, calories are not something that you can pick out of your food like raisins from a potato salad. A calorie is a unit of energy that measures the amount of energy stored in food.

The "calories" that most of us are familiar with, which we read on nutrition labels, are technically called "kilocalories." One kilocalorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.

Contrary to their bad reputation, food calories are good for us. They provide essential energy to our bodies, giving us the fuel that we need to remain healthy and active. However, if you consume more calories than you burn off through physical activity, those excess calories get stored in the body as fat.

That's why a balanced diet and regular activity are essential to maintaining our long-term physical, emotional and mental health.

How Does Standing Help Us?

At first glance, standing doesn't seem to do anything for our weight loss. After all, you are just standing still with maybe some minimal arm or leg movement. But, now, calories burned by standing desk burn anywhere from 100 to 200 calories per hour, while sitting at your L-Shaped standing desk tends to burn only 60 calories.

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Do We Burn More Calories From Standing Vs. Sitting?

The short answer is "yes."

Research shows that standing burns an extra 0.15 calories per minute on average compared to sitting. Men burn an extra 0.2 calories/minute and women burned an extra 0.1 calories/minute (sorry ladies).

This is great news, but it's also hard enough of a calorie burn to help you lose weight significantly.

Instead of looking at a small number of extra calories burned, let's look at the whole picture and ask ourselves, "how does standing up and moving at your standing desk change your metabolism and how does that help you burn more fat both day and night?"

According to Dr. James Levine, the easiest way to boost your metabolism and burn more calories is to add subtle movements to your days, such as swaying, shifting, and fidgeting. Dr. Levine calls these movements "Non-Exercise Activity," which can be best accomplished with the use of a standing desk - and they are the key to unlocking their calorie-burning potential

As you move more (even subtle movements), your metabolism increases. As your metabolism increases, you burn more calories. This process is known as "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis" (or NEAT). Look at this site.

And this increase in metabolism creates a momentum-like effect. The more you move, the more "momentum" your body gains, keeping your metabolic rate high, even while you sleep. In fact, Dr. Levine has found that those who engage in these non-exercise activity movements can burn up to 2,000 calories a day.

How Many Calories Are Really Burned By Standing?

A 2017 analysis published in the journal Circulation gives us the most up-to-date and widely accepted estimate of the calorie burn that comes from standing.

Doctors in that analysis looked at nearly seven hundred existing energy expenditure studies, selected the 44 most scientifically sound of the bunch, and then averaged them all together. As a result, we get the most accurate and universal results by aggregating dozens of credible studies rather than relying on potential outliers.

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How Do The Calories Burned By Sitting And Standing At Desks Compare To The Calories Burned By Other Activities?

According to the research published in Circulation, sitting down at a desk burns roughly 20 calories per fifteen minutes, while standing at a desk burns about 22 calories per fifteen minutes.

Sitting and standing while working burn more calories than sleeping or passively sitting. How do they compare to other activities, such as cooking, gardening, or playing hopscotch with your kids?

Here is a breakdown of the average calories that various physical activities burn over the course of fifteen minutes:

  • Sleeping: 11.5 calories
  • Sitting and watching TV: 18.66 calories
  • Sitting and working: 19.63 calories
  • Standing and working: 21.92 calories
  • Walking: 55.9 calories
  • Downhill skiing or waterskiing: 111.5 calories
  • Basketball: 149 calories
  • Running: roughly 200 calories, depending on your speed

The above results for sitting, standing and walking came from the analysis published in Circulation. At the same time, the other totals were provided by Harvard Medical School and indicated the average calorie burn for a 155-pound person.

Keep in mind that these numbers are only averages and that we all burn calories differently based on our individual size, metabolism and gender. For example, due to differences in muscle mass, standing men burn twice as many calories on average as standing women. See this here.

Why Do People Disagree About The Calories Burned By Standing At Desks?

Hundreds of studies have attempted to measure the calories burned by standing instead of sitting. However, the results have varied widely due to differences in the subjects and the scientific methods involved in those studies.

There is one consistent finding: day-after-day spent passively sitting is one of the worst things that we can do to our bodies. Any activity at all, even standing still, is better for us than sitting.

However, while standing certainly burns more calories than sitting, there have been profound disagreements about how many more calories are burned. In addition, some widely reported studies on the subject have been questioned or discredited due to their limited scope, small sample size or lack of controls.

One widely reported study by the University of Iowa in 2015 found that workers who used adjustable standing desks typically stood one hour per day more than their sitting-only colleagues and that they burned 87 extra calories per day.

Many people took these findings to mean that sit-stand desks burn 87 calories per hour. However, a good amount of that additional calorie burn was because stand up desk users also walked an average of six minutes more per day at work than those who used a traditional, non-ergonomic sit-down desk.

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Although the standing desk probably deserves credit for encouraging movement and enhancing energy in those workers, walking burns more than twice as many calories as either sitting or standing.

What Exercises Can You Do to Burn Calories With Standing Desk?

To amend the answer to the question: Do standing desks burn calories more? Yes, if paired with exercise or other movements. So whether you love going to the gym and workout every day or are more of a casual fitness person, here are a few standing desk exercises you can do at your desk.

You can do these during breaks, before lunch, and as a wind-down before the day is over. They are also good at fighting post-lunch fatigue as well.


If you are standing all day, being able to bend down and at least pretend that you are sitting down can be a real lifesaver for people. A few simple squats are often enough to bring some feeling back into your legs and can be a quick and easy exercise to do whenever you need to move around. Get More Information.


Taking a brisk walk whenever you are at a break or a stopping point can be a good idea. Step away from your desk or computer and walk outside to see your coworkers if you work in an office or go around your house if you are at home. If you really have some time to kill, go outside and walk around. That way, you burn calories and get some much-needed sun exposure simultaneously!


Here is one of the good ways to get standing desk calories to burn. Standing desk push-ups offer the perfect incline for you. If you don't want to do horizontal push-ups on the floor, you can instead brace yourself against the standing desk and do push-ups that way. Inclined push-ups can be very beneficial for you, even more so than regular push-ups, and they are much easier too!

Chair Dips

If your standing desk has an office chair for the occasional sit-down, then you can make a few dips into the chair to have some good exercise. It's best if your chair doesn't roll when you do this, though, as it can cause some real problems. So make sure always to do your dips properly, and you'll start to reap the benefits!

Upgrade to A Standing Desk

Still, if you believe that those extra 100-200 calories an hour can help you get your weight loss and that every little bit helps, you should upgrade to a standing desk to lose a bit of that extra weight. It can be a bit of a transition, but once you get your body used to standing up while working, it can seriously start to burn some extra calories for you.

Pick the right standing desk for you to achieve standing desk calories burned, add some exercises and physical activity to it, and then get comfortable watching the number on the scale drop. Who doesn't love that feeling whenever they weigh themselves?

Frequently Asked Questions About Standing Desk

Standing desks won't make you lose weight, and they also don't make you significantly healthier or more productive, according to a new analysis of 53 sit-stand desk studies.

Standing Core Stabilizer. Promote abdominal strength, increase stability, improve breathing and coordination, and reduce your waistline. Regularly practising standing core exercises is essential to sculpting your midsection and reducing belly fat.

More calories burned: One study showed that standing sheds 88 calories an hour, compared to 80 calories for sitting. Walking burns a lot more -- 210 calories an hour. Less back pain: Sitting for long periods of time tightens your muscles and can hurt your lower back, especially if you have bad posture.

According to the research published in Circulation, sitting down at a desk burns roughly 20 calories per fifteen minutes, while standing at a desk burns about 22 calories per fifteen minutes.

Benefits of Standing at Work

  • Burns Calories. Standing burns more calories than sitting, even if you simply standstill. 
  • Gives You an Energy Burst. 
  • Improves Posture. 
  • Reduces Back Pain. 
  • Helps with Wrist Position. 
  • Keeps Circulation Going. 
  • Boosts Your Mood and Focus.
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