woman standing over her laptop on a desk

Standing up for a healthier lifestyle

Stand up.

Right now. Just do it. Get out of your chair and stand up.


You’ve just made your first move toward a healthier lifestyle.

“You burn about .15 more calories per minute standing instead of sitting,” said Jaime McCarthy, a physical therapist with OSF HealthCare. “It’s not a quick fix. You’re not standing to replace an exercise program. But it’s a good place to start.”

Standing still burns more calories than sitting

woman stands working on a laptop with the use of a standing deskStanding for six hours a day burns 50 more calories than sitting for the same amount of time.

“Over a year, that could be five pounds lost for an average-sized woman,” Jaime said.

The average American sits for 11 hours a day.

The very thought of standing for six of those hours might be daunting. How am I going to stand for that long?

But you don’t have to go from zero to six the first day, or even the first month. And you don’t have to do all six hours at one time.

Make a plan. Set manageable goals. Build up. Chart your achievements and celebrate your milestones.

Whether you’re working in an office or at home, or even if your daily routine is sitting and reading or watching television, set your watch or cellphone to alert you once every hour. Better yet, every half hour. And then stand up.

“Start with two minutes every day this week. Then next week, do three minutes, and so on,” Jamie said. “Once you see progress, you’ll have more incentive to keep increasing your time.”

Stronger core, better posture

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Potential weight loss is not the only benefit from standing. Medical research studies show that standing as little as 30 minutes a day can lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Standing for 90 minutes can lower that risk by more than 33%.

The more you stand, the more the benefits add up.

“When you stand, you’re engaging all your postural muscles, which could prevent you from having back and neck pain in the future,” Jaime said.

“When you’re sitting, you don’t have to engage too many muscles. You lean on the armrest, you lean back, or you lean forward on your desk. You don’t engage your core. Never engaging those muscles leads to increased stress on the joints, and that can lead to pain.

“Standing, you have to engage your core. There’s no other way to stand. Instead of allowing those muscles to weaken, you’re gaining strength and putting less stress on the joints.”

Add a little movement

These are all benefits of simply standing still. Or standing while you work at an adjustable desk. The simple effort it takes to rise and stand is beneficial, too.

“It doesn’t necessarily make you stronger, but it helps keep what you have,” Jaime said. “To build muscle, you want to increase your load, like with a weight or providing some resistance.

“But just the act of standing up – getting out of your chair to a standing position – increases your blood flow, alertness and productivity. You can stand up and sit down several times, and now you’re leaning more toward actual exercise.”

Incorporate some purposeful movement into your routine stand, and the payoff grows.

“An object in motion stays in motion. So keep your body moving and stay moving. Just a little extra movement in your day helps. Little changes add up to big benefits.”

Last Updated: July 12, 2021

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About Author: Kirk Wessler

After being a writer for OSF HealthCare for three years, Kirk Wessler retired in January 2022. A Peoria native and graduate of Bradley University, Kirk's experience included working for newspapers in Missouri, Texas and the Peoria Journal Star.

Kirk and his wife, Mary Frances, have five sons, four daughters-in-law and nine grandchildren. Kirk plans to spend his retirement on the golf course, mastering the guitar and traveling.

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Categories: Diet & Exercise