Is a standing desk still sedentary?
Expected from us, your ergonomic office specialists at Desky, we are on a mission to debunk myths and enlighten you on popular questions surrounding standing desks.
Chief amongst these queries is, "Is a standing desk still sedentary?" To unpack this, we delve into relevant research and provide science-backed insights to ensure you fully reap the benefits of increased productivity with your standing desk.

Is a standing desk sedentary?

Standing desks are praised for decreasing sitting time, but does that alone make them non-sedentary? Here's some insight: standing instead of sitting during work can increase the amount of calories burned.

While sitting might burn around 80 calories per hour, one study found that standing could burn around 88 calories. However, this statistic still falls short when compared to more intense activities like walking, which can burn up to 210 calories an hour.

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Does using a standing desk count as exercise?

Despite the growing popularity of standing desks, one persistent question remains: "Does using a standing desk count as exercise?" Well, the answer is slightly disappointing. As much as standing desks are held aloft for combating sedentarism, the truth is, standing is not equivalent to doing exercise.

There is no concrete evidence to suggest that merely standing offers the same cardiovascular benefits as running or cycling. So, please remember, standing desks are not a substitute for regular exercise.

Is standing still considered sedentary?

On the move, our muscle involvement and energy expenditure is indeed higher, but passive standing, that is, standing without much movement doesn't elevate your heart rate or energy output significantly over resting levels.

This information supports the idea that standing still hovers just above the sedentary line, according to the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (SBRN).

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Is it bad to stand at a standing desk all day?

Just as sitting for an extended period is unhealthy, standing all day also comes with its pitfalls. Prolonged standing results in discomfort and affects functions like reaction times.

Extended periods on your feet can lead to issues like lower back pain, leg muscle or tendon problems, and even varicose veins, as laid out in a 2017 study published in Ergonomics journal.

The key, as always, is moderation and balance. If, however, you are experiencing discomfort from prolonged standing, consider reading about how to use a standing desk correctly.


To sum up, while standing desks play a pivotal role in reducing excessive sitting and can boost productivity, it is crucial to recognize their limitations. They can help burn additional calories but bear in mind, this doesn't qualify as exercise. Whilst standing results in slightly higher energy expenditure than sitting, it's only a notch above being sedentary.

Lastly, let's be mindful that overuse of standing desks could lead to discomfort and health concerns. To truly leverage the power of standing desks, implement them as a part of a balanced, active lifestyle. Remember, whether sitting or standing, regular movement is crucial!

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