Standing Desk Health Benefits

Posted by Michael Lipka on


Are You Sitting for 8 Hours a Day?

July 27, 2022

Standing at your desk for just 4 hours a day can burn over 400 more calories per day vs sitting.


That's equal to 2 Snickers Bars. Every. Single. Day.

The American Cancer Society did a large, long-term study of 123,000 middle-aged adults and found that women who sat the most had a 34% greater risk of dying from any cause over the 14 years of the study versus those who sat the least.

For men it was even worse: the most sedentary had a 50% greater risk than their more active counterparts of dying from any cause over the 14 years of the study.

Why is Sitting Bad for You?

One reason why sitting may be so harmful for your health may be the relaxation effect it has on your body's largest muscles: your big bad gluteus maximus. Your butt.


When your butt muscles relax, they soak up very little glucose from your blood, which actually increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, the level of good enzymes and good cholesterol in your body drop off a cliff when you are sitting.

In a 2018 study by Annuls of Medicine, they found that people who sat for no more than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk in that study. “Prolonged sitting is one of the main causes for many of the conditions treated in my musculoskeletal clinic. It often results in office visits with other types of doctors as well,” says Erick K. Holder, MD, a Yale Medicine physiatrist.


Dr. Holder's advice on reducing your sitting time is to purchase a sit-to-stand desk. And he says that if you can not purchase a standing desk then you can move your computer to a work surface that is at a counter height or higher depending on your height and when you sit to try using something like a roller or a towel behind your back while on a chair to provide lumbar support.


Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic, author of the term NEAT or "non exercise activity thermogenesis" found "that as people get up, particularly in corporations, productivity improves, they’re more alert, they’re more creative. Things are just getting better and better the more and more people get up.”


It is hard to argue with this video: Dr. James Levine on standing up.


What about that whole 2 Snickers thing?

The average woman at 160 lbs will burn 285 calories more per day when she stands 4 hours and sits 4 hours (vs sitting 8 hours). The average man at 200 lbs will burn 376 calories more per day when he stands 4 hours and sits 4 hours (vs sitting 8 hours). 


That's the equivalent of eating nearly 2 Snicker bars PER DAY! 


Here's a good table showing the health benefits of standing desks for men and women:

Calories Burned Using a Standing Desk

Obviously, this doesn't mean you should use our desk risers so that you can eat 2 snickers bars per day and maintain the same weight. It does, however, highlight the health benefits of standing desks.


And if you are running a corporate wellness program or are concerned about the health of your employees, adding standing desks to a corporate wellness program or standing desks for schools is just the first step. 

If you follow our guidelines on overall health and wellness, you will want to also consider fitness tracking products, nutrition, exercise programs, yoga and mental health.


Standing Desk Health Benefits: Conclusion

The evidence is pretty clear: standing desks promote movement. And movement burns calories.


Standing just 4 hours a day can burn an average 285 calories more per day for women and 376 calories per day per women.


Most importantly, standing desks get you out of your chair and increase the odds that you will move more throughout the day. Movement promotes blood flow and can reduce back pain, neck pain, and foot pain. 


At DeskRiser, we talk a lot about the health benefits of standing desks. Of course, we're biased, being that we operate a marketplace for manual standing desks, electric standing desks, kids standing desks, and standing desk accessories.


However, we started this business for a reason: to bring health and wellness to work places and schools. More than anything, standing desks get you off your chair and increase the likelihood that you will move more. It is all about movement.


Still not convinced of the benefits of standing desks?

Here's a good list of references for those skeptics out there:

Buckley JP1, Mellor DD, Morris M, Joseph F. - Standing-based office work shows encouraging signs of attenuating post-prandial glycaemic excursion. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Feb;71(2):109-11

Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE, Bajaj RR, Silver MA, Mitchell MS, Alter DA. - Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jan 20;162(2):123-32

Thorp AA1, Kingwell BA, Sethi P, Hammond L, Owen N, Dunstan DW. - Alternating bouts of sitting and standing attenuate postprandial glucose responses. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Feb;71(2):109-11

Thorp AA1, Kingwell BA2, Owen N3, Dunstan DW4. - Breaking up workplace sitting time with intermittent standing bouts improves fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort in overweight/obese office workers. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Nov;71(11):765-71

Ognibene GT1, Torres W, von Eyben R, Horst KC. - Impact of a Sit-Stand Workstation on Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Randomized Trial. J Occup Environ Med. 2016 Mar;58(3):287-93

Here is a great study done on the health of bus conductors in London, who spent their working hours walking the length of the buses as well as climbing up and down the stairs of the English double-decker buses to collect fares. There was a noted improvement in their health when compared to bust drivers, whose jobs kept the drivers sedentary. 

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