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Sitting vs standing: How many calories do you burn?

May 20, 2021 | Work Culture

Wurk Health Brand

Among the many great human achievements is one that is not very flattering. We have become the most sedentary people to ever live on this planet. Our sedentary lifestyle is a major driver of deadly diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, which have risen sharply in the last decade. But with technology being the reason behind it, technology can also help us get out of it. 

Why is sitting so unhealthy? 

When you sit, you usually lean on the backrest, put your arm on the armrest and maybe even lean your head on the headrest. This means that you stop using a significant number of muscles in your body. And what is not used weakens. Eight hours sitting at work, four hours at home in front of a television or with your device plus seven hours of sleep. This gives us nineteen hours a day not using most of our body muscles.   

When the body is in a passive state, the heart rate decreases, causing the blood to circulate more slowly. The blood flow to the legs and brain is reduced. It means that if you sit for a long time time, you might find it hard to engage in activities and to think. However, what can have more serious long-term effects is a decreased ability of the body to break down glucose. In short, when you eat, your body turns food into glucose. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin to help get the glucose levels back to normal. If the body is not active enough, the process of glucose breakdown is not effective. Unfortunately, high levels of glucose increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.  

But that’s not the last thing. Lack of activity also complicates the proper function of enzyme lipoprotein lipase. The enzyme naturally breaks down blood fats, making them available as fuel to muscles. When the function of this enzyme is impaired, there are more triglycerides and fats in the blood, which makes us vulnerable to the development of heart disease. 

Take a stand

Press the button on your standing desk. If you don’t have one, reach out to your manager or HR. Not only you and your health will benefit immediately and in the long run, but also your employer will be happy to see the results of optimized productivity.   

When you stand, your muscles are constantly active, supporting the body weight. This makes the body burn 100 – 200 calories per hour compared to just 60 – 130 calories when sitting. The number of calories depends on your weight, you can use this calculator to find out the exact number. Even though it is a fairly large number, it is not likely to make a person lose weight, but it will contribute to a healthy lifestyle and help not to gain weight. Participants in this study had an average of 10 beats higher heart rate when standing. That’s equivalent of additional 0.7 calories burned per hour. 

Height adjustable Sit-Stand desk in a building

Sit-Stand Desk

Standing at work has one side effect. The time you spend in an active position, you keep your muscles engaged, which helps to build up muscle tone. That’s not too bad. When your body is engaged, your heart rate is faster, which optimizes blood flow and makes your body function better, including the brain. It allows you to optimize your productivity and allows the body to break down after meal blood sugars more easily. Plus, it’s nice to take the strain off your back once in a while. Straightening it up your back and be able to move freely can be liberating and can prevent spinal injuries and spinal compressions caused by a prolonged period spent sitting in an unhealthy position. 

How to start

If you have just started using your standing desk, it is important not to extend the period on your feet. To avoid leg and foot pain, start with 15 to 30 minutes a day and gradually increase it. Because you will spend more time on your feet standing in one place, we recommend having shoes with good arch support for optimal alignment and balance. If your shoes don’t have enough cushion, you may want to consider getting a floor mat that will reduce the pressure on the feet, knees and back. To achieve positive results on your health and productivity, your eyes should be level with the top of the monitor.  

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24297826/
https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/calories-burned-standing#comparison-chart

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