standing desk

I've heard conflicting claims:

Site that claims it maks a crap load of difference

Site that claims it doesn't make a shred of difference

What does science say?

You may find this question about the general health effects also interesting

  • Perhaps "crap load" is not a technical term you wish to use in reference to a workplace? :)
    – user5341
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 22:02
  • Would be nice to see a study referenced regarding work efficiency and concentration while standing vs. sitting. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 21:15
  • Related question: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/13568/…
    – user22865
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


(Reiff et al. 2012) looked at this question in the classroom setting, where the the desk was used for general paper-based work (not computer based work). They recruited 20 (10 male, 10 female) young adults (22.8 ± 1.9 years). Participants were randomly assigned to a sitting desk or a standing desk. They found that calorie expenditure differed between the two groups. The sitting group expended 1.02 ± 0.22 kcal/min, while the standing group expended 1.36 ± 0.20 kcal/min. This was with p ≤ 0.0001.

(Benden et al. 2011) looked at the effect of "desks that encourage standing rather than sitting", and found that "the treatment group experienced significant increases in calorie expenditure over the control group".

(Perry 2012) says "research has shown that standing burns 30% to 40% more calories than sitting".


Benden, Mark E., Jamilia J. Blake, Monica L. Wendel, and John C. Huber Jr. "The impact of stand-biased desks in classrooms on calorie expenditure in children." Journal Information 101, no. 8 (2011).

Perry, Lance S. "Standing Up." Professional Safety (2012).

Reiff, Christopher, Kara Marlatt, and Donald R. Dengel. "Difference in caloric expenditure in sitting versus standing desks." Journal of Physical Activity and Health 9, no. 7 (2012): 1009.

  • 10
    Interestingly, those numbers seem to be practically significant (as opposed to only statistically significant). The difference over 8 hours comes to an average of 163.2 kcal, which is pretty close to a 2km jog for an 80kg male, in terms of calories. Of course, equating a low intensity activity with a moderate / high intensity one is likely far more complicated than this, but it's a surprising result, nonetheless.
    – Daniel B
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 6:32
  • 4
    I think this is also a good example of misuse of anecdotal evidence. The second link in the question gives personal testimony from a person who "didn't notice any difference at all", and then draws the conclusion that "those calorie burn statistics are apparently totally bogus".
    – user5582
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 10:03
  • Yes, that's quite a leap of logic... On the other hand, Reiff et al. only tested the participants for 45 minutes - I'd be interested to know whether long term acclimatisation to a standing desk lowers the calorie difference somewhat (by virtue of the person finding a posture which requires less effort, or some other adaptation). That said, I doubt it'd be a significant change, you'd still have to balance / provide a counter to gravity yourself.
    – Daniel B
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 10:34
  • 1
    It would also be interesting to see whether there were any fringe disadvantages for longer term use - intuitively one would expect it to be harder on the back.
    – glenatron
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 16:22
  • 2
    @glenatron Yeah. There's a separate question about general health effects of standing desks.
    – user5582
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 16:30

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