Study: Standing Desks Can Produce Modest Benefits

Cleveland Clinic wellness expert Michael Roizen, M.D., talks about a recent study that looks at whether standing desks provide any benefit to those with desk jobs.

CLEVELAND – Many have probably heard the saying that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ when it comes to detrimental habits for our health.

Now, a new study looks at whether using a standing desk really gives us any advantage when it comes to weight loss.

Michael Roizen, M.D., is a wellness expert at Cleveland Clinic. He did not take part in the study, but said standing versus sitting can account for some calories shed, and every little bit counts.

“What they found was really interesting, because using a standing desk doesn’t make much difference when it comes to burning calories,” he said. “But remember, we’re gaining weight every year – we’re gaining about a pound and a quarter every year.” 

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Researchers examined results of previous studies on standing desks, which included information on 1,184 people.

They found that a person weighing about 143 pounds could potentially burn 54 calories per day just by standing, instead of sitting, for six hours. The calorie burn from standing was greater for men than women, on the account of the difference in muscle mass.

Michael Roizen, M.D., said people don’t necessarily need a standing desk to get moving during the work day. He recommends setting a reminder to get up and walk around for a few minutes at least once every hour.

The extra calorie burn could account for about five pounds of body fat loss per year, assuming a person does not increase their calorie intake.

Dr. Roizen said the modest benefit that we get from using a standing desk for six hours a day is about the equivalent of eight minutes of walking for women, and about 14 minutes of walking for men.

He said that the bottom line is that any movement is better than just sitting – which is what many of us do when we’re at work.

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Dr. Roizen said that it’s not necessary to have a standing desk to get moving during the work day. He suggests setting a reminder on a phone or watch to get up and walk for a few minutes at least once every hour.

Overall, he said the best thing we can do for our waistline is to make a plan to become active and stick with it.

“The first thing to do is get those 10,000 steps a day,” said Dr. Roizen. “After you master that, add 30 minutes of resistance exercise. The third thing is to add some cardio, and fourth is add some jumping.” 

Complete results of the study can be found in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.