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People Who Stand At Work Burn More Calories

Flickr / John M

It might not help you burn off that large Thanksgiving meal, but a new study from the University of Iowa says people who use desks designing for sitting and standing at work do burn about 87 more calories a day, compared to coworkers who only sit.

"In the United State the average, we call this occupational energy expenditure, has declined about 100 kilo-calories per day, per person over the last 50 years," says one of the study’s authors is Lucas Carr, an assistant professor in UI’s Department of Health and Human Physiology. "That has played a pretty significant role in the obesity epidemic that has occurred over the same time period. So it doesn't sound like a lot, but when you look at it over the course of a person's career, 25-30 years, it adds up to be quit a bit."

The study took place at scholastic testing company ACT's national headquarters in Iowa City, where about half of the 70 employees use traditional desks, and the other half use desks where a worker can sit or stand. On average those with sit-stand desks had used the furniture 1.8 years prior to the study. 

Carr says the decline in the average of daily-calories-burned can be attributed to the fact that there are fewer manufacturing, labor-intensive jobs and more desk jobs.  He adds it's probably not a good idea to stand all day, as this could cause fatigue or strain. 

Additionallty Carr says that other studies have shown that standing more helps people feel happier, less stressed, more energized, and more focused. So while you won’t immediately drop 10 pounds, those who switch to standing desks may experience some quick and tangible results. 

The study will appear in the January edition of “The American Journal of Preventative Medicine.”