Calories Burned Calculator
Sitting vs. Standing

Research by the Staff of Start Standing
Updated May 15, 2020

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 the calories burned sitting vs standing calculator to help show the difference in calories burned per hour, and at the end of the workweek to encourage more people to be active and give standing a try.

Does standing burn calories?

This is a question we are often asked, and the answer is yes! Your body uses more stabilizer muscles standing to keep your body upright than it does sitting. We've added more details below about the exact differences in calories burned.

How many calories are burned sitting vs. standing?

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

Here are some example calories burned differences for females and males, for a spectrum of weight ranges:

Calories Burned for an Average Height Female (5' 5")

8 hours of sitting vs 4 hours sitting 4 hours standing on and off

Weight Only Sitting Sitting & Standing Extra
100 lb. 439 668 229
140 lb. 499 761 262
180 lb. 560 854 294
220 lb. 621 947 326
260 lb. 682 1040 358

Calories Burned for an Average Height Male (5' 10")

8 hours of sitting vs 4 hours sitting 4 hours standing on and off

Weight Only Sitting Sitting & Standing Extra
140 lb. 568 865 297
180 lb. 655 998 343
220 lb. 742 1,131 389
260 lb. 829 1,264 435
300 lb. 917 1,397 480

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 are 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 the article in New York Magazine by Dan Kois, 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 you perform certain activities better while seated, 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 to transition 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 Calculation Method

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 –

The primary driver of our calculations is the Harris Benedict Formula:

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 ))


  1. standing calories total per day and week is not calculated correctly for hours = 8

    1. Hi, God bless you. How many calories would a woman that is 5′ 5″ burn for doing standing rear leg raises?

      1. So… people come here to use this really cool resource and end up correcting your spelling? Trolls.

  2. If you look at other versions of “sitting,” they are different. Harvard apparently is claiming to declare the energy used by the brain during “reading.” I know only 5 calories are not needed for standing. The Harvard calculator is also ignoring the difference between women and men.

  3. I work in a warehouse for a cabinet company and I am on my feet 10 hours a day 4 days a week. Granted I spend at least 3 hours of that day standing in one place but the rest of my day I am constantly going and walking or jogging around machines. It’s nice to know that even while standing I am burning calories. Especially since I work in the conditions that I do and I’m to tired after work to go to the gym.

  4. this was very interesting. I am in a wheelchair since a stroke and have always tended to be too plump! Now I know that it really could be worth my while to stand up more often,albeit in one leg!

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