The difference between standing and sitting

By getting on your feet for three hours during your work day in stead of sitting down you will increase your heart rate and boost your metabolism. Research shows that, on an annual basis, the increased calorie consumption by standing up corresponds to running several marathons.

2013.10.21 | Andreas G. Jensby

At AU, many of us spend our days sitting at our desks. And some are surely better than others at changing working position at a frequent rate, whether standing or sitting.  Should you be in doubt about the benefits of standing versus sitting, here follows some results of a recent study done at the University of Chester, which has been referred to by the BBC.

Sitting down for many hours
A survey shows that many of us sit for 12 hours or more each day. At work, in the car, at home, etc. If you add to this the number of hours spent sleeping, it amounts to quite a lot of hours in a horizontal or semi-horizontal position.

Changing the body’s blood sugar control and metabolism
The breakdown of food to sugar and the concurrent production of insulin to control the blood sugar level is influenced by how physically active we are. But by standing up we get increased muscle activity, and the participants in the study even showed increased heart rate by an average of 10 beats per minute. This makes the body metabolise 0,7 calories more per minute, which amounts to a little more than 40 calories per hour.

Thus, if you stand up for three hours every day during a five-day work week, you will burn more than 600 extra calories per week compared to sitting down.

One marathon every five weeks
Based on a rule of thumb that we burn one calorie for each kilo of body weight per kilometre we run, in just five weeks, one man who weighs 70 kilos will be able to burn the same amount of calories as when running a marathon. This means 8-10 marathons in 45-46 work weeks. And that is quite a lot.

A different form of exercise
While exercise is generally good for many things, the body also needs the constant muscle activity that you achieve by standing up, for instance to control the body’s blood sugar level.

We ran the numbers by one of AU’s own experts in the field of public health and exercise, and he is able to verify that the numbers and calculations are indeed plausible.

Aarhus BSS