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A new review of 53 studies shows the effects of sit-stand desks. Many people believe that this innovative type of furniture, which most offices now have, can help with weight loss.

But the researchers found that losing weight was not one of the major health benefits of the devices.

More research is needed on workplace set-up and dosage, says lead researcher April Chambers [1].

“Though these are mild benefits, certain populations might. benefit greatly from even a small change in their health,” she adds. “Like any other tool, you have to use it correctly to get the full benefits out of it’s possible”…

But can standing desks help to lose weight by any means? Let’s find out!

Can Standing Desks Help Lose Weight?? Doctors Explain Why It May Help

A sedentary lifestyle does a number on your health, and does it spike your risk of weight gain. It makes sense that standing more each day would help prevent some of these effects.

But that raises the big question: Can simply standing more help you lose weight or help prevent chronic diseases?

Can Standing Desks Help Lose Weight featured image

It won’t work miracles, but it can add up over time.

First of all, a lot of people tend to lean towards the extreme to stand as much as they can, because they heard how bad sitting is for health.

But standing for long periods of time per day is even twice as bad as the same amount of sitting time. So the key is to vary in between that positions to get the maximum effect for health-related effects AND weight loss.

Is There Research To Support The Link Between Standing More And Losing Weight?

Standing burns nine calories an hour more than sitting at your desk.

Let’s break this down:

If a 143-pound person stood instead of sat for six hours a day, the calories burned would be 54 per day. If you add all of that up over a year, you could lose 5.5 pounds of fat in that time.

Studies have shown that increasing time spent standing versus sitting can enhance weight reduction efforts, says Carolyn Newberry, a gastroenterologist at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine [2].

For women, standing burned 0.1 calories per minute more than sitting, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology [3].

But before you try to stand all day during your worktime, read on because that is not the solution.

The Truth About Standing Desks and Weight Loss

A European Journal of Preventive Cardiology review looked at the caloric expenditure of sitting versus standing [4].

People burned 0.15 more calories per minute than they did sitting. Men burned slightly more calories than women.

Without making any other changes to diet or lifestyle, the researchers calculated that a 143-pound adult would lose 5.5 pounds per year without making other changes.

Another new study found similar results in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, measuring oxygen consumption to calculate calories burned while doing daily activities, including walking, sitting, watching TV, and standing [5].

The Caloric Difference Between Positions

If you stand for an extra 6 hours each day, that difference would amount to burning 54 more calories…

So, as you can see the caloric expenditure doesn’t change dramatically. In theory, you can lose at least some weight by burning enough calories over the long haul if you stand for extended periods of time.

weight loss woman with measuer tape

But as we learned above, you’ll have to face negative consequences for your health.

Standing desks and are not designed to stand over a long period of time, but to maximize the effect of switching between positions.

Thus you can get some benefits of standing desks, without risking the overweight of the negative effects of standing for too long.

Yet walking, even at a leisurely pace more than doubles your calorie burn.

If you want to read more about that topic check out our article: How many calories does standing burn?

If You’re Going to Stand At Your Desk…

If you suddenly go from sitting all day to standing all day, you run the risk of leg, foot, or back pain.

Certain tasks — especially those with fine motor skills — are more accurately performed while seated.

Setting a timer can disrupt your concentration, reduce your focus and reduce your efficiency.

You may want to experiment with different time intervals to find the best time intervals for you to stand at a desk for longer periods than 60 minutes a day and gradually increasing it.

Also, you may want to find out about your work performance at a standing desk when you usually work sitting.

man in front of standing desk

As already mentioned some people will gain some productivity, while others who have to perform complex tasks that require a lot of focus may experience negative effects on productivity.

Standing Desk Pros

A standing desk is unlikely to help with slimming or avoiding weight gain since the increased energy expenditure is minimal, but there are other benefits of these desks.

Standing desk users and advocates point to studies showing that after a meal, blood sugar levels return to normal faster on days a person spends more time standing.

And switching positions, rather than sitting only, may reduce shoulder and back pain, they say. For most of these potential benefits, rigorous studies have not yet been performed.

The potential health benefits studies found when using standing desks the correct way

Of course, a standing desk is not the miraculous cure to all diseases that are linked with a sedentary lifestyle, but it will help to get more physical activity throughout the workday.

That is at least the bare minimum that you can do to create a more ergonomic workspace and increase your health.

The Right Way to Stand

The head, neck, spine, and elbows should be in a straight line when you stand.

The elbows should form a 90-degree angle when your wrists are placed flat on the desk. Start with just a few minutes and slowly progress to up an hour, then only add two hours max as you feel comfortable standing at a desk.

Put your computer monitor with the upper part of the frame at eye level.

two women and standing desk

If you want to make your workspace more comfortable add a balance or gel pad you can stand comfortably on, to prevent foot pain.

Make sure to increase the time you’re standing slowly. It’s better to switch positions multiple times per day than to keep one position all day long.

Always remember, that’s not what a standing desk was intended for. It just gives you the option to switch and move more.

How to Boost Your Weight-Loss Efforts

A standing desk helps regulate blood sugar, reduce back, shoulder pain, and lower your risk for chronic diseases.

Experts still advocate for making the swap from traditional to sit-stand desks.

The ultimate goal is to avoid keeping one position for too long continuously, an expert says.

The benefits of standing desks may not be the secret key to weight loss, but there are many ways to boost the benefits of a standing desk by using it in conjunction with other positive lifestyle changes such as healthy posture and spine health in a healthy work-from-home setup.

More Tips On How To Lose Weight

  • So first of all change your position multiple times throughout the day to get more physical activity
  • Take active walking breaks and during your workday
  • Add more steps by using the stairs instead of the elevator, or visiting your colleagues instead of calling them when you need something, etc.
  • Drink more water and stay hydrated
  • Do moderate-intensity exercise. Hit the gym 2-3 times per week to build some muscle. Why? Because muscles metabolize your fat directly and help to increase your basic metabolic rate
  • Optimize your nutrition and caloric intake
fitness woman doing side planks

In theory, you mostly need to burn more calories than you consume throughout the day.

But the key is to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable fashion by adjusting your lifestyle. Thus your chances of losing pounds consistently are way higher.

FAQ

Is standing better than sitting for weight loss?

Yes, standing is better for weight reduction than sitting. But doing it for increased periods of time is unhealthier for the body than sitting. So doing it during your worktime shouldn’t be primarily used for weight-loss reasons, as it never was intended for that purpose.

Does standing help reduce belly fat?

Yes, standing can help to reduce belly fat. But body fat can’t be reduced locally (like belly or thigh fat) but only overall. So if you lose body fat, you’ll also lose belly fat at some point. Yet, it is not recommended as a weight-loss method as it has multiple negative side effects when doing it over an extended period of time.

Conclusion

As you can see now, standing desks can help to reduce weight theoretically. But working at a desk job is not the best setup for that purpose.

Under the premise that you stand for multiple hours per day, you can increase your energy expenditure by enough, to lose a couple of pounds throughout the year

But it’s highly advisable to avoid doing that because standing is twice as unhealthy as prolonged sitting if you do it for multiple hours per day.

If you take a short walk of half an hour per day it’ll be way healthier and more efficient.

If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, you need to adjust your lifestyle, eat well and exercise more.

Basically, it’s quite simple but remaining the habit is what makes it hard.

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