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Sorry, standing doesn't burn many more calories than sitting

But there are still plenty of benefits to standing during the workday.
standing desk
Standing at your desk won't help you lose weight, according to new research. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Opting to stand instead of sit during your workday provides plenty of health benefits, but higher calorie burn isn’t one of them.

For the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed data from nearly 50 previous studies on sitting that included more than 1,100 people. The results of the meta-analysis found that standing burns an average of 0.15 more calories per minute than sitting. Men burn two times what women do by standing — 0.20 calories per minute vs. 0.10 calories for women — thanks to extra muscle mass.

To put it into perspective: A 140-pound man who stands for six hours a day can expect to burn an additional 54 calories. That’s not exactly enough to help keep off the extra weight, but researchers say it’s enough to help you maintain weight and avoid obesity.

Why standing is better for your health than sitting

The extra calorie burn might not encourage you to swap out your chair for a standing desk, but a growing body of evidence shows that it does provide other real benefits to your overall health.

The most significant is the link between standing and lower levels of blood sugar. A small study of office workers found that standing for at least 180 minutes after lunch reduced the post-meal blood sugar spike by 43 percent.

Another small study of office workers found that alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes throughout the day led to an 11.1 percent reduction in blood sugar spikes.

Even worse: Prolonged sitting throughout the day is shown to increase heart disease risk by up to 147 percent — an even an hour of intense exercise might not be enough to negate the ill effects of prolonged sitting. It also helps considerably reduce back pain.

Ultimately, standing more often than you sit does a body good, even if you won’t lose a ton of extra weight by doing it.