Good News for People Who Like Sitting: Science Says Standing Desks Won't Help You Get Fit
A couple of feet down from my own desk and chair is a standing desk. It’s adjustable and even comes complete with a floor pad to support you when you’re standing there for a long period of time. My co-workers love it and people are often jealous that I’m so close. Yet, I rarely use it.
Despite all the research to the contrary, I’ve been rationalizing my desire to stay seated—if not at my desk than on one of the couches milling around the office—for a long time. I’m quick to point out that I spend a lot of time on my feet. I typically run three to five miles in the morning. My 40-minute commute is usually crowded and so I stand. I’m honestly often just so relieved when I arrive at my space in the morning and can plop myself down in my chair. Research suggesting that sitting is the new smoking be damned.
So, you can imagine my delight when I read about a new study that concluded sitting and standing weren’t all that different when you’re talking about calorie expenditure. Researchers reported that “someone who stood up while working instead of sitting would burn about eight or nine extra calories per hour.”
That means although standing is beneficial because it lessens the risk of chronic disease, if the goal is simply to maintain a healthy weight, standing alone, even for long stretches of time, isn’t going to do it. And although I doubt the standing-desk devotees’ main concern is to stay in shape, I feel better knowing that my choice to sit isn’t leading to weight gain.
If you’re also a sit-er, feel proud that you have one less reason to feel guilty about your choice. And if you’re a person who thought standing all day was equivalent to active exercise—fear not. There are lots of almost-as-easy ways to stay in shape at the office. For example, you can take walking meetings, set a timer to remind yourself to do a loop around the office every hour, be mindful of what you’re eating for lunch (and what you’re eating when snacks are offered up), and make sure that you’re prioritizing your physical health just as much as your career growth.
Grand conclusion: Sitting and standing both have their benefits, and at the end of the day you shouldn’t feel guilty about either choice.
Photo of man sitting at desk courtesy of Robert Daly/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author