Hey Angels and Alphas,
Standing desks have risen in popularity over the last couple of years, with their fans claiming they can help you get out of your chair more all throughout your day so you can counteract the negative health effects of too much sitting. That being said, when it comes to weight loss, standing desks aren’t really a magic bullet.
Although standing up periodically does have some advantages over just sitting for a prolonged period of time, this isn’t really a form of exercise, and by itself, simply standing up won’t really help you lose weight.
You can think of it as a continuum, with sitting on one end and all-out exercise on the other side. The closer you can actually move toward real exercise, the better. But standing does tend to move that needle a little bit. Same with walking and cycling.
STANDING IS HELPFUL… BUT NOT REALLY FOR WEIGHT LOSS
There’s some research out there that has shown that obese adults sit for up to 2-3 hours more every day than lean adults, and in turn, this increases their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and all-cause mortality.
Spending large stretches of time throughout the day standing will help break up the long periods of time you spend sitting into smaller bits. And whether or not you’re overweight, standing is generally good for your health since it increases blood flow throughout your body and improves your posture.
That being said, standing does not add any physical activity to your day. It does not promote aerobic exercise or help you burn enough calories to make any significant weight loss results.
Research has shown that participants expand up to 12 percent more energy while they’re standing compared to when they’re sitting, but this was only equivalent to about 9-10 calories per hour. Most people simply cannot stand up for long enough for this to make an actual difference.
If that was a 12 percent higher total for the day, that might actually be useful. But people don’t stand all day. They tend to only do that for up to an hour or two of their day, and if you’re only counting an hour or two with 12 percent more calorie expenditure, this is an insignificant difference at least in terms of weight loss. The calories do not stack up to any meaningful amount.
A LITTLE BIT OF WALKING BEATS STANDING ALL DAY
There are countless more health advantages to using a treadmill desk than just a regular standing desk. According to some studies, treadmill walking actually incorporates physical activity which tends to increase the calorie expenditure you’ll receive. Standing is, ultimately, a sedentary behavior. Some experts have argued that periods of sitting may encourage people to actually walk more when compared to just being seated all day.
Standing essentially breaks up sitting time and may also predispose people to more and more bouts of short walking. That is, if they’re already standing, it’s very easy to take a few steps. Even if it’s just a lap around the office or your house, some walking is better than none.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS…
Whether or not you have a standing desk, it will always be a good idea to alternate between periods of sitting, periods of standing, and periods of physical activity throughout your day. We know that prolonged standing isn’t really the solution you want because you won’t get any particular health benefits out of it. Furthermore, when you’re standing all day, this could even lead to trauma such as plantar fasciitis.
Instead of spending countless hours a day trying to stay standing, you can set an alarm reminder to stand up 1-2 times every hour. This could help you alternate between sitting and standing, or better yet, help you get up and go for a short walk. Even if it’s as little as two minutes (for refilling your water glass, for example,) this will positively affect your blood glucose and your triglyceride levels.
That being said, if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, add walking or another form of exercise such as cycling into your regular daily routine. If you can aim for 200-300 minutes of walking every week, you will achieve tremendous weight loss results doing it. But simply standing up will not add up to any significant weight loss results.