Here's How Many More Calories You Burn Standing vs. Sitting

Your mother/teacher/office-know-it-all is right: Sitting on your butt all day is not good for you. 

But whether it’s because you just can’t stop binging on the latest Netflix show or have to go to work at a desk job every weekday, a sedentary lifestyle is pretty standard for many Americans. Studies have shown that long periods of physical inactivity is dangerous for our health, with risks ranging from increased likelihood of heart disease to diabetes to weight gain to even breast and colon cancers. 

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But surprisingly, standing up isn’t the answer — at least not if you’re most worried about the weight gain component.

A recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, and reported by the New York Times, measured the number of calories that healthy, 20-some year old individuals burned while sitting, standing and moving for 15 minutes.

One group was tasked to sit for 15 minutes watching a screen and then walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes. One group sat and typed for 15 minutes and then stood up for 15 minutes. Another group stood for 15 minutes and then sat for 15 minutes and the last group walked for 15 minutes and then sat. 

Researchers found that generally people burned 20 calories during 15 minutes of sitting. But surprisingly, standing up for 15 minutes only burned two more calories than sitting down, which means that standing for an hour roughly burns only eight more calories than sitting for that hour. That’s about how many calories are in three Cheddar Goldfish crackers.

The study shows however, that walking can increase about 130 more calories burned per hour, an amount that researchers say could be enough to help prevent creeping weight gain. And that may be impetus enough for us to walk over to talk to a colleague next time instead of sending an email.