7 Ways To Burn Calories By Standing More

Learn how to burn calories by standing more.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #53

I hope you’re sitting down when you read this. Or maybe not. Recently, several studies have been all over the news, suggesting that sitting may in fact be A) slowly killing us and B) worse than smoking. While these catchy headlines may be partially news-selling scare tactics, there’s definitely something to it. Just look at an amazing infographic that sums things up at “Sitting Is Killing You”, read “Is Sitting A Lethal Activity?” by the New York Times, and view a Fox News Report on “How Sitting Can Be As Deadly As Smoking”.

Of course, these types of reports may only serve to get you stressed out at work while you’re strapped to your chair, grinding your teeth and sweating bullets as you wonder how much harm you’re doing to your body. And this type of stress can be just as unhealthy as sitting! So in this article, you’ll not only learn why sitting isn’t the best activity for your health, but you’ll also learn 7 ways to stand more, even if you work in an office environment.

The Dangers of Sitting

If you really think about it, discussing the dangers of sitting seems a bit silly. After all, you know intuitively that a sedentary lifestyle is less healthy than staying physically active. But it’s only recently that clear scientific evidence has emerged linking cardiovascular disease to long periods of time spent in a seated position. Early death and obesity are also strongly linked to sitting.

How could this be? Not only are people who sit a lot less likely to lead physically active lives, but sitting halts most of the electrical activity in your muscles, since you don’t really need those muscles to help you sit (believe it or not, your glutes do not become stronger by sitting on them!). When muscle activity declines, your metabolism drops, so you burn a third of the calories you would in standing position. Interestingly, the enzymes that break down fat also significantly decrease, as does the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Finally, compared to standing, sitting can place up to 10 times more painful pressure on your low back.

Are you standing yet?

How To Stand More

Fear not. You’ll find 7 Quick & Dirty Tips below to help you stand more. And many of these can be used even if you’re shackled to a chair for your day job!

1. Stand When You’re Waiting

I often get funny looks at the DMV, doctor’s office, and computer store when I’m told to “take a seat” and I simply stand in the corner of the room. If you think about it, there’s no real reason to sit, since you can read magazines, surf on your phone, or listen to music while you’re standing – and your wait time doesn’t get any shorter by sitting.

2. Stand When You’re At The Gym

This may seem counterintuitive. Isn’t the gym a place for exercise? It certainly is, but if you happen to have a job in which you sit most of the day, you should be avoiding exercises that put you into a seated position. I recommend choosing free weights and treadmills over seated weight training machines and bicycles. This is especially true if you have low back pain – the less you sit, the better!

3. Stand When You’re Working

Even if you can’t always stand at the office, you can at home. There’s no reason why shuffling bills, surfing on your computer, or performing any other desk activity can’t be adjusted to a standing workstation. In the article “How To Turn Your Workstation Into A Calorie-Decimating Standing Desk or Treadmill Workstation”, I teach you how to make a standing desk and even create a treadmill workstation. I have clients who slowly walk several miles each day while working, and I personally do almost 90% of my writing in the standing position.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.