How Many Calories Do You Burn at a Standing Desk?

People standing at standing desks

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered if using a standing desk can help you burn more calories? Studies have shown that individuals who use a standing desk do burn more calories than those sitting down.

This article delves into the impact of standing desks on calorie burning, and how to maximize it with simple strategies. Keep reading to find out just how much of a difference your work setup could make in your calorie expenditure.

Key Takeaways

  • Standing desks burn more calories than sitting, but the difference is small.
  • Using a standing desk can help burn around 100-200 calories per hour, depending on age, height, weight and sex. 
  • Standing desks alone won’t lead to major weight loss. Adding movement breaks and light exercises into your day are also important.

Understanding the Impact of Standing Desks on Calorie Burn

Person standing at a correctly adjusted standing desk

Let’s firstly take a look at how exactly standing desks impact calorie burn.

Dispelling the myth of significant calorie burn

Standing at a desk may sound like a surefire way to burn extra calories, but research tells a different story. The calorie expenditure between standing and sitting does not differ dramatically; in fact, the difference is quite minimal.

An average individual burns aound 100-200 calories per hour while standing at work compared to 60-120 calories when seated. This difference might seem significant enough to support weight loss, but it’s rather insignificant in the grand scheme of it.

Standing desks do not magically function as effective fat busters for weight loss if used on their own without incorporating exercise or other physical activity into your daily routine.

Therefore, it’s crucial not to overestimate the number of calories burned by simply choosing to stand instead of sit during your workday.  

Factors Affecting Calories Burned While Standing

Your calorie burn while standing can vary based on your sex, age, weight and height. 

Also, each person engages different muscle groups while standing, affecting the calorie burn rate. Therefore, exact calculations are individualized rather than universal for everyone using a standing desk.

Sex, age, weight and height play a role

Understanding how sex, weight, age, and height influence calorie burn while using a standing desk is essential.

  • Men often burn more calories per minute while standing than women. This disparity is due to metabolic differences between sexes.
  • Age is another crucial factor. As we grow older, our metabolic rate decreases, leading to less calorie burn even when standing.
  • Height plays a role too. Taller individuals tend to have more muscle mass and consequently use more energy and burn more calories when they engage in any physical activity, including standing at their desks.
  • An individual’s weight significantly impacts calorie burn while standing. Heavier individuals expend more energy to support their body mass, leading to a higher calorie consumption compared to those with less weight.

How to calculate how many calories you approximately burn per hour while standing

A calculator

To get a rough idea of how many calories you approximately burn per hour while standing you can use this tool or calculate it yourself with the following formula.

First, calculate your BMR, which represents the number of calories your body requires to maintain basic bodily functions while at complete rest. The Harris-Benedict equation is commonly used for this:

  • For men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
  • For women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

To estimate the calories burned per hour while standing, you can use 1,8 as the MET, meaning multiply the BMR by 1,8. Then, divide the result by 24.

-> Calories burned per hour standing (estimated) = (BMR x 1,8) / 24

Maximizing Calorie Burn in Your Office Environment

Person doing pushups

Incorporating movement breaks

Increasing the calorie burn at your standing desk is not difficult. Simply integrating movement breaks into your work routine can bring into play some important benefits. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Set an alarm every hour to remind you to take a movement break of around 5-10 minutes.
  2. During this break, walk around, stretch and do exercises such as squats, push – ups, and chair dips for added effectiveness.
  3. Try walking while on phone calls or during virtual meetings.
  4. Use a stability ball or balance board occasionally to activate leg muscles and increase energy expenditure.

Engaging in light exercises

Engaging in light exercises while using a standing desk can boost your calorie burn significantly. Here’s how:

  1. Squats: Performing simple squats during standing breaks gets your heart pumping and your legs working.
  2. Walking: Make use of small movement breaks to walk around the office or at home.
  3. Push-ups: Use the sturdy frame of your height-adjustable desk to do some inclined push-ups.
  4. Chair Dips: With a sturdy chair by your side, try doing a couple of chair dips every hour.
  5. Balance Board Exercises: Standing on a balance board encourages active movement, increasing calorie expenditure.

Using a balance board or stability ball

Maximizing your calorie burn while working at a standing desk becomes easier when incorporating a balance board or stability ball. These fitness accessories offer an exciting way to increase your calorie burn and add a fun twist to your work routine.

  • The balance board challenges your core muscles, legs and feet all day, increasing energy expenditure.
  • It encourages movement throughout the day, helping you burn extra calories.
  • You can also use a stability ball to engage more muscles in your legs and core.
  • Both of these tools promote better posture and boost blood sugar control.
  • Adding light exercises such as squats or occasional walks further maximizes the calorie burn.

Standing Desks for Weight Loss: The Truth

A scale and a measuring tape for checking your body weight

While standing desks may promote more movement and burn a few extra calories, they are not the magic solution for weight loss. It is crucial to integrate these desks with other healthy lifestyle changes for effective weight management.

Don’t fall into the misconception that merely switching from sitting to standing can largely influence your calorie count; consistent physical activity and balanced nutrition play far greater roles.

Despite some benefits like improved posture and potential relief from back pain, expecting significant weight loss solely from a standing desk might set you up for disappointment.

Standing desks alone will not lead to significant calorie burn for weight loss

Even though standing desks can increase the number of calories burned per hour compared to sitting, this difference is not substantial enough for significant weight loss. Considering that an average person burns about 100 to 200 calories while standing at a desk each hour, as opposed to burning only 60 to 120 calories when sitting, it’s easy to see why some may think standing desks are effective tools for weight loss.

However, looking deeper into these figures reveals a different story. The extra calorie burn from standing can add up over time but in itself isn’t likely to cause marked weight reduction.

This is because the energy used during static standing doesn’t drastically exceed that of sitting; merely replacing sitting with stationary standing won’t lead to noteworthy fat shedding.

To optimize calorie expenditure and potential weight loss effects when using a standing desk, incorporating regular movement or light exercises becomes crucial. Some users turn to balance boards or stability balls which engage more muscles and consequently boost caloric burn during their work hours.

Others opt for taking brief walks around the office and doing some standing desk exercises every hour or so as an active break from being upright at the desk.

Therefore, you shouldn’t expect significant weight loss solely from utilizing a stand-up desk without making other lifestyle modifications.

Other lifestyle changes may be necessary

To accomplish a significant calorie burn that leads to weight loss using a standing desk, you may need to incorporate additional lifestyle changes:

  • Consider taking regular movement breaks throughout the day. A walk during lunch or quick exercises every hour can help burn extra calories.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle outside of the office. Regular workouts and physical activity on weekends and after work hours contribute significantly to your overall calorie expenditure.
  • Pair your standing desk with a balance board or stability ball. These tools can activate muscles in your legs and core, increasing your energy expenditure.
  • Pay attention to your diet. Even if you are burning some extra calories by standing at your desk, excessive calorie intake may hinder weight loss efforts.
  • Focus on building muscle mass with strength training exercises. Muscles burn more calories than fat, both during workouts and while at rest.
  • Implement healthier habits like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking whenever possible.


Standing desks provide a slight calorie-burning edge over sitting desks. However, solely relying on them for weight loss will not deliver significant results. For marked improvements in health and added calorie burn, incorporate exercises and embrace an active lifestyle along with the use of a standing desk.


1. Can standing desks help me lose weight?

While the calorie burn isn’t significant enough for massive weight loss, the few extra burns can contribute over time. For significant weight loss, you should combine the use of a standing desk with exercising and other healthy habits.

2. How can you exercise while working?

You can consider using a balance board or even a treadmill while working at your desk. Make sure you’ll be able to stay focused while choosing one of these exercise methods.

3. Is it recommended for workers to use sit-stand desks?

Many health reports recommend changing positions frequently and using sit-stand scenarios throughout the day as this helps reduce sedentariness and helps improve focus. Don’t think that, just because the use of a standing desk won’t lead to significant weight loss, a standing desk isn’t worth it. There are so many remarkable benefits of using a standing desk, which can make it a wise investment.