Contrary to what we perceive while standing, the human body is actually in continual motion in order to remain upright for any period of time. This motion is in the form of a swaying pendulum rocking mainly via the adjustment of weight across your left-right symmetry. This is why questions such as ‘how many calories do you burn by standing’ get a lot of attention. It actually takes a lot of coordination between the nervous system and a variety of muscles to remain standing, and this is why the standing pose burns more calories than sitting or lying down.
When we stand upright, our brains are constantly adjusting our posture in accordance with external stimuli. For instance, even a light breeze would cause you to fall over, were it not for a very intricate adjustment process in distribution of weight. Our brains are very finely tuned to detect changes in balance, which is why we are able to remain standing in a variety of terrain.
When you stand, your body is actually continuously falling either forwards or backwards ever so slightly. Once your inner ear reports to the balance centre of your brain that you are too far off balance it sends a signal to the muscles in your legs, hips and back to adjust for the motion and you then begin to fall in the opposite direction and the whole process starts over.
The most advanced robotics engineering programs have significant difficulties in getting their machines to merely stand upright in a variety of environments. This is an indication of how much energy and precision is required for a task as seemingly mundane as standing. So questions such as ‘how many calories do you burn by just standing’ deserve some analysis. This also means that if you are trying to lose weight, you will do better by standing rather than sitting. If you can make this a habit at bus stops and whilst waiting for meetings, you may actually be able to increase your daily calorie burn rate significantly. A variation on the above would be to ask how many calories do you burn by standing in the cold, as your body must then remain in an unstable upright position whilst maintaining its core temperature.
A general rule of thumb is that you burn approximately 5 calories more for every 6 minutes you are standing rather than sitting. This means that we can answer a whole host of other popular questions:
How many calories do you burn by standing up for 1 hour: 50 kcal. And as for how many calories you burn by standing for 8 hours, it’s 400 kcal. Lastly, how many calories do you burn by standing up all day? 1200 kcal. So don’t sit down!