What if I said you could burn an extra 350 calories every day? I know what you’re thinking… I’m about to share some crazy eating plan or workout with you. But what if I said it has nothing to do with diet or exercise? Intrigued? You should be. But first let me tell you how I discovered this calorie-burning hack.
When I was five, I got extremely excited in a ball pond. My mother watched on from a distance in horror as I jumped from a high platform into the mass of balls. I screamed out as a pain shot up my spine on reaching the multicoloured pond—I’d landed straight on my tailbone. I had to sit on a rubber ring for six weeks.
Fast-forward 26 years, and a rather vigorous bout of V-sits in a workout class left me with a dull, aching pain that reminded me of this long-forgotten incident that happened decades before. I have an office-based job where I have to sit at a desk all day, but it’s not all that chic sitting on a rubber ring (fine when you’re five).
Racking my brains for a solution, I thought back to my time as fitness and beauty editor at Women’s Health, where I had been incredibly jealous of my colleagues who had standing desks. Standing didn’t hurt my coccyx (the “proper” name for our tail bones), so before Christmas I pushed my chair aside and found a couple of empty boxes in the office to sit my laptop on. I haven’t looked back since. My tail bone gets welcome relief, and not only that, I noticed a pretty rapid loss of five pounds (without making any other changes).
Keep scrolling to find out more about the benefits of standing at work and how to make the switch.
Okay, so walking and running burn calories because you’re moving, but can standing still really burn anything? According to a study conducted by the BBC and the University of Chester, it can. Dr. John Buckley and a team of researchers asked 10 people who sit all day to stand daily for three hours, and they each wore monitors to record their heart rates. The researchers found that during the hours when the volunteers stood, their heart rate was 10 beats per minute more. “That makes a difference of about 0.7 of a calorie per minute,” says Dr. Buckley.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it equates to 50 calories an hour, which if you work a nine-to-five job and only sit for an hour at lunch, you’ll burn an extra 350 calories over the seven hours.
How to Stand for Maximum Effect
If you stand at work, your posture will improve too. Set your standing desk up accurately, and you will be forced to stand tall. Unfortunately, my boxes are a little low, so I still have to hunch over slightly to see the screen. Having said that, my back still feels a million times better than it did when I sat all day.
A couple of months ago, my back got so bad I constantly had an overwhelming urge to want to crack it, like people do their knuckles. The only thing that worked was heading home every night and getting into a yoga wheel, and sure as the sky looks blue, my mid-back would crack every single time. Since standing, I haven’t had the urge to crack my spine once. But I still haven’t got it perfect. Keep scrolling to find out how to stand correctly at work.