There is a growing trend in the office world.
With so many people seeing the downsides of sitting at a desk all day, alternatives are popping up all the time.
Adjustable-height desks and treadmill desks, for instance, are becoming more popular for offering users the option to stand up for a while.
The problem with some of these standing desks is that users are on their feet all day.
That can mean major pressure on not only the feet but also the knees and various joints in the legs.
With enough time, it can mean serious leg pain that would not have been there with a traditional chair.
This is why other options are popping up on the market.
It is advised that office workers alternate between standing, sitting, and walking roughly once per hour or two.
This is to ensure that atrophy doesn’t set in and the legs, feet, knees, and back don’t have to deal with an unnecessary amount of weight and pressure.
There are treadmill desks out there where users can sit atop their treadmill, getting up to walk as they work without ever going anywhere.
Treadmill desks are a great way to stay active while continuing to work.
But the real question becomes this: how many calories will you burn on a treadmill desk versus a standing desk?
There is a lot more that goes into the question than you may realize.
There are more than a few manufacturers of standing desks, treadmill desks, leaning chairs, and other “active seating.”
The major manufacturers are also some of the leaders in the industry when it comes to market research and determining the benefits and downsides of these chairs.
There are major health implications tied to sitting or standing or alternating. The goal of each manufacturer is to make a more comfortable option that can check all of the boxes of comfort and reliability.
Pairing with research institutions across the United States, these manufacturers work with the most detailed of measurements to maximize the metabolic and ergonomic health benefits that come with using either a treadmill desk or a standing desk.
There is something that the manufacturers refer to as NEAT activity. This is non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
NEAT activity is that which can raise the basal metabolic rate of an individual. That basal metabolic rate is how many calories the body burns when it is a total and complete rest. T
he goal of the NEAT activity is to help boost that number by a minimum of 10% without going so high that it exceeds cardio exercise heart rates.
It is important to know that NEAT isn’t an exercise. It involves mild movement that can help to alleviate some of the negative impacts that come with prolonged sitting.
At the same time, it helps to improve work productivity in the office.
Implementing true cardio exercise is counterproductive to that goal of improved productivity. This is because more oxygen in the blood gets consumed by your muscles instead of the brain. In other words, if you are sitting or sweating, you’re not delivering optimal oxygen to the brain.
Read More >> Do Standing Desks Increase Productivity?
And this brings us to the question of how many calories one could burn working at a treadmill desk or standing desk.
Sitting for long periods can work to wear down the metabolism of the body. When that happens, your body’s resting rate -- that basal metabolic rate -- comes down as well.
Consider your heart rate when you are just sitting there. Our bodies are burning calories to keep all of the vital organs functioning, blood pumping through our veins, working to digest the last thing we ate, keeping brain cells moving, and so on.
Simply standing can raise your basal metabolic rate quite substantially since the heart has to work harder just to keep the body upright.
When you add in walking at a very slow pace, no more than a mile or two per hour, it then raises that basal metabolic rate even further. This ultimately raises the number of calories that our bodies are burning.
While it can change from person to person, the average person will expend somewhere between 100 and 130 calories per hour at a treadmill desk.
Simply standing while you work may burn in the 20 to 25 calorie range because of the improved basal metabolic range. But there is a major difference when switching from standing to walking at a slow 1 to 2 mph rate.
That modest basal metabolic rate increase, which can include things such as chewing gum or simply fidgeting, is worth noting over sitting.
But introducing a slow walk can not only add substantial calorie burning, but it can help to aid in weight loss over time as well. That is on top of the other health benefits that already come with using a treadmill desk.
For standing desks, you generally won’t see much in the way of weight loss, though they can see a difference between sitting and standing.
Treadmill Desk or Standing Desk?
For those who are looking to get off their rear ends and find a better way of working, the question usually comes down to, “standing desk or treadmill desk?”
Each of them has exploded in popularity in recent years and with good reason. In small home office settings and corporate America in particular, their usage has jumped exponentially.
There is evidence that shows that sitting at your desk for an hour is just as detrimental as smoking a cigarette. Both standing desks and treadmill desks offer the benefit that comes with keeping the number of hours spent sitting to a minimum.
What you may not have realized is that there are a lot of differences between the two desks. While they are both great for battling sedentary and sitting diseases, the two together may be the best option out there.
The Standing Desk
Most scientists and medical experts that study metabolism and biomechanics agree that standing is generally much better than sitting.
Think about it from a common-sense point of view: we evolved as a species to move in a more upright vertical position, not to sit in chairs and stare at screens for hours on end. It is safe to say that sitting and watching a screen is not quite the same as hunting your dinner down.
There is also a plethora of evidence that all of the most important biological functions shut down as we are idle.
That “caveman DNA” can take over and tell our bodies that we went from being on the hunt to not being on the hunt.
What results is, among a litany of other things, a slower metabolism rate as well as much more fat storage than normal.
There has been a slew of studies that show that standing desks offer a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Believe it or not, standing desks may even help to keep your hair healthier.
Not only that but when we sit, our bodies are subjected to positions that are not ergonomically friendly. When you sit, your back is in a position where the core and back muscles aren’t even supporting the rest of your upper body.
This can lead to neck and back strain, not to mention the other types of strain injuries that can come with it.
When you use a stand-up desk, you are moving more. Those back and core muscles then become engaged. Your hips, shoulders, and legs are also no longer constrained by that sitting position.
Too Much Standing
As with anything else in this world, too much of one thing can be detrimental and the same goes for standing desks.
There is a plethora of information out there showing that there are common afflictions involved with standing on your feet all day.
Just ask the factory and retail workers who stand in a small area and don’t have much space or time for movement.
When you do too much standing and don’t have the proper movement to accompany it (or you happen to be standing in high-heeled shoes), it can lead to knee and hip injuries, blood pooling in the legs, and varicose veins, and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).
That is why it is important to break up all of that standing from time to time. Make them more manageable chunks if you can.
For the most part, people shouldn’t be standing for more than two hours at any given time with regularity.
Listen to your body if you notice any signs of fatigue (there are also anti-fatigue mats that can help for standing for long periods). Having the proper support means that your feet and legs can be comfortable even when standing for a while.
Even those accessories can only take you so far. If you want to get the best of both worlds in terms of standing and moving while confined in an office space, then look no further than the treadmill desk.
It doesn’t take a deep study to determine that being on your feet all day can hurt quite a bit. If you have ever been to a trade show, you will also realize that walking around doesn’t have nearly the same detrimental impact as standing around.
Walking slowly can also help to boost productivity and energy levels while soothing the muscles and joints, and also keeping your metabolism at a much healthier level. That can have a major benefit when it comes to your working life.
There is one misconception about walking desks and that is that they are solely for losing weight. While they certainly can help do just that, there is a little too much of an emphasis on that aspect.
What walking desks do is improve the aforementioned non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
The repeated small but active movements of walking slowly can help to boost your body’s calorie-burning processes.
Most treadmill desk users are healthy, fit people who want to stay that way.
They also know the downsides of being stuck in a chair all day, such as higher cholesterol and triglycerides, weight gain, lower metabolism, higher blood pressure, and a greater chance of disorders like Type II diabetes.
Read More >> Do Standing Desks Help Blood Pressure?
Finding a Balance
The key, as is the case with anything in life, is to find a bit of balance. Working at a walking desk has its own set of drawbacks. Spending eight hours walking is not a good thing, either, and it requires a balancing act.
That is why having a treadmill desk can be the best of both worlds.
It allows users the chance to get up off their backsides without the damage that comes with standing all day.
By making changes every hour or two, you can keep your body from becoming complacent and falling into ergonomic hell as it would just sitting stationary.
Switching positions up throughout the day can keep the body active without putting unnecessary strain on the feet, knees, hips, back, and any other joints or muscles.
Known as a sit-and-stand desk, it is the best option available. You can sit when you need to, stand other times, and walk whenever you feel like it.
If you spend the average day in one of those positions for roughly a third of the time, then you can do wonders for optimizing your health.
Even better is that you can simply stop the motor on a treadmill desk to convert your station to a standing desk.
It takes some time for workers looking to make a change to find the appropriate one. Too much of any one thing is never a good thing, either.
Take the time to experiment with both sitting and walking slowly throughout the work day.
By switching it up from time to time, you can keep your body far healthier than it would be by just sitting in a chair.