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Energy Expenditure Comparison: Could Standing Versus Sitting At Work Prevent Obesity?: 932May 29 8:00 AM - 8:15 AM

Speck, Rebecca M. FACSM; Schmitz, Kathryn H. FACSM

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 5 - p 123-124
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000353666.70625.16
E-19 Free Communication/Slide - Physical Activity and Obesity: MAY 29, 2009 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM ROOM: 4C3

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


(No relationships reported)

Published MET values of 1.5 and 2.3 for working while sitting versus standing indicate that standing for an 8 hour workday would increase energy expenditure by the equivalent energy cost associated with the recommended level of daily physical activity. The difference in energy expenditure for sitting versus standing approximates to be 380 kcals/day for a person weighing 60 kg (132 lb). By comparison, the energy cost of the recommended level of daily physical activity for the same person is approximately 378 kcals/day. These values suggest that working at a standing desk may be an alternative to leisure time activity for preventing obesity. However, we are aware of no published comparison of energy expenditure in the same individuals for sitting and standing while working. Sources for the values for the MET levels in the Compendium of Physical Activity are unclear.

PURPOSE: (1) To measure energy expenditure of sitting work, standing work, and walking at various speeds, (2) compare energy expenditure of these activities to that of the recommended level of daily physical activity, and (3) compare the results to published MET levels for each of the activities measured.

METHODS: Energy expenditure was assessed via indirect calorimetry during sitting rest; sitting on a chair, exercise ball, or standing while working at a computer; and walking at 2 and 3 MPH. The 13 participants were 25-60 year old normal and overweight sedentary men and women.

RESULTS: The mean MET values for working at the computer while sitting in a chair, sitting on an exercise ball, and standing were all near 1.0 (1.034, 1.070, 1.025), and cost 1.296, 1.342, 1.287 kcal/min, respectively. The published compendium MET values for sitting and standing work appear to be overestimates. Working at a standing desk does not substantively increase energy expenditure compared to sitting at work.

CONCLUSION: Measured energy expenditure values were much lower than published values. However, further understanding of the potential for standing desks to promote greater movement throughout the day may help determine the usefulness and practicality of alternative approaches to increasing energy expenditure in sedentary individuals to prevent obesity and maintain weight.

© 2009 American College of Sports Medicine