When standing desks first started gaining popularity several years ago, users hoped the furniture item would help them reach fitness goals at their nine-to-fives, for the ultimate multitasking win. Now there are real scientific results explaining how the office item can actually affect your health—some good news, some not as good.
After analyzing 46 studies comparing the energy expenditure of sitting versus standing (reaching a total of 1,184 participants), researchers found that people who use standing desks do, in fact, burn more calories throughout the day than those who don’t. But unfortunately, six hours of standing only equates to about 54 calories, according to the study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology—AKA not nearly as much as people suspected.
“The conclusion was that, indeed, people who stand burn more calories than those who sit. But the number of calories was not as high as some people who were in favor of the standing desk were claiming.” —Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, cardiologist and study author
“The conclusion was that, indeed, people who stand burn more calories than those who sit,” Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, cardiologist and study author, told Bloomberg. “But at the same time, we found the number of calories was not as high as some people who were in favor of the standing desk were claiming.”
Even though that output number is super low, it does add up over time: The study found that using a standing desk for four years could result in a 22-pound weight loss. Furthermore, any time spent out of a chair is better for your well-being. According to Dr. Lopez-Jimenez, those who use standing desks tend to move around more throughout the day and avoid back problems derived from sitting 24/7.
Whether you have a standing desk or not, make sure you stand frequently throughout the day, aiming for as many times as you can for 30 minutes at a time.
Whether or not you have a standing desk, Dr. Lopez-Jimenez urges people to stand frequently throughout the day, for 30 minutes at a time as often as possible. “The ultimate goal is to avoid sitting for too long continuously,” he said.
So you might not reach your fitness goals from standing desks alone, but you’ll definitely feel much better than you would, had you spent your entire day on your booty—promise.