Calories Burned Calculator: Sitting vs. Standing
Replacing a few hours of sitting at our desks with standing can lead to significant health benefits over time. In addition to the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal benefits, there is a significant difference in calories burned. We created our sitting vs standing calories burned calculator to help showcase the difference in calories burned per hour and at the end of the work week to encourage more people to be active.
FAQs Regarding Standing vs. Sitting
How many calories are burned standing vs. sitting?
There’s no exact answer. But the National Institutes of Health tells us that in an hour the average 170 lb. person burns:
- 134 calories sitting
- 206 calories standing
- 296 calories walking at a moderate pace
- 341 calories walking briskly
- 719 calories walking briskly
Dr. James Levine, who is one of the pioneers of the standing desk movement, and head of the NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) lab at the Mayo Clinic, says that the average person burns up to 350 calories more per day if they’re moving more.
If you stand at your desk at least part of your day, you know that you don’t just stand. You shift your weight, you dance, you stretch, you’re shifting a lot. And that activity burns more than just standing.
Is it good to stand all day?
Though there are many documented benefits of standing, such as reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and back pain, most experts don’t recommend standing all day. Everyone needs to find their own ratio of sitting to standing, but the research shows that extended periods of sitting is as dangerous as smoking (hence the saying, “Sitting is the new smoking.”)
If you want to know what happens when you stand all day, read an article in New York Magazine by Dan Fois where he stood all day, every day, for 30 days straight!
The general rule is to not sit more than 20 minutes without standing or getting up and moving.
And experts recommend that if your legs start getting tired from standing, or you feel that certain activities you do better sitting, sit down. Just don’t stay there.
Check out our list of how to add more movement into your day.
How do I transition to standing more?
The simple answer is gradually. Set an alarm on your watch, phone, or computer to remind you to get up after you’ve been sitting for 20 minutes.
There are dozens of free desktop and phone applications that can do this for you.
Do I need a standing desk to start standing while I work?
If you don’t use a standing desk or standing desk converter (a unit that you put on top of your existing desk to give you the option of standing), there’s a good chance that you’ll be uncomfortable, and could end up with back and neck pain. Check out Proper Workplace Ergonomics for more information.
Some people use a treadmill desk, or a bike desk to add more movement to their day.
References and Notes
- Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic disease risk? – British Journal of Sports Medicine
- 14 Ways to Burn More Calories – US National Library of Medicine
- Compendium of Physical Activities – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The primary driver of our calculations is the Harris Benedict Forumula:
Women Sitting = 1.2 x ( 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ))
Women Standing = 2 x ( 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years ))
Men Sitting = 1.2 x ( 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year ) )
Men Standing = 2 x ( 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year ) )