Do we burn calories while sitting?

September 23, 2016


Some people don’t realize that in every moment they are burning calories, even if they are standing or sitting. However, more calories are burned while standing when compared to sitting. A recent published study measured how many calories are being burned during a normal day of standard office activities. Results showed that frequently engaging, or interrupting your physical inactivity while at work may help many avoid weight gain – however, this activity was not standing up.


A 9-5-office job typically consists of A LOT of sitting behind a desk for seven to eight hours a day. This time frame is much longer than any person should sit during a single day.  The uninterrupted periods of physical activity have been linked with increased risks for diabetes, heart disease, premature mortality, and weight gain.  Thus, many people have started to look for new ways to become active during the workday. There have recently been new studies published that have closely tracked the calories burned when long periods of sitting are interrupted by standing or walking more frequently during the work day.   


The new study was published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health rounded up 74 healthy volunteers.  Most of them were in their mid-20s, normal weight, and with some acquaintance with office life. These volunteers were randomly placed into four different groups.  Group one sat and typed at a computer for 15 minutes and then stood up for 15 minutes, moving around and fidgeting as little as possible.  Group two sat for 15 minutes, but watched television and didn’t type; immediately after, they walked on a treadmill at a strolling pace for 15 minutes.  Group three stood up for 15 minutes and then sat down for 15 minutes.  And group four walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes and then sat.  Throughout the activities, the volunteers wore masks that measured their energy expenditure.


The results showed that the volunteers burned roughly 20 calories during their 15-minute spending period.  Standing up was not much more taxing, and only burned about 2 more calories. The order of standing up and sitting down did not matter. Therefore, researchers concluded that someone who stood up while working would burn an additional eight to nine calories per hour. When participant volunteers walked, they burned about three times as many calories. Overall, if they walked for an hour, the researches determined that they would burn an additional 130 more calories.  These results could be enough to help people avoid a slow and steady weight gain.


To conclude, if you’re looking to burn a few extra calories, break up the monotony of your sitting and take breaks for a few extra steps.  Maybe put the printer at the end of the hall, get up for to use the water fountain every hour, take the stairs, or maybe even take a few laps around the office during your lunch break.

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