Stand Up Desk: Correct Standing Posture to Reduce Back Pain and Burn Calories

Did you know sitting is killing you?  It might not be AS bad as puffing on a nicotine stick, but being slave to a sedentary lifestyle is pretty much as bad as smoking.

I sit at a desk all day long…. sitting for 8 hours wears on my back.  And my eyes.  And my poor tight hips and hamstrings… and I find that even if I exercise in the morning or afternoon, I’m experiencing symptoms of soreness and tightness that I never felt when my jobs involved moving around all day.

Sound like you?



  • DISRUPTS METABOLISM – Sitting for over an hour slows down metabolic rate.  Uh oh!
  • DIALS DOWN CALORIE BURN – Drops to 1/3 of walking calorie burning rate


  • INCREASED RISK OF DEATH/DISEASE – over 40% increase of risk of death (any cause.  Really, anything…?), 125% increase risk of cardiovascular related diseases
  • ONE WEEK – After a week in your new sedentary state, fat molecules, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance (linked to Type 2 diabetes) all increase
  • TWO WEEKS – Your muscles begin to deteriorate!  Your V02 max(max oxygen uptake) decreases (that’s where you begin huffing and puffing up one flight of stairs).
  • ONE YEAR OF SITTING 6+ HOURS/DAY – possible bone loss (women 1% bone mass/year), potential weight gain and cholesterol increases
  • 10-20 YEARS OF SITTING – can take away up to 7+ years off your life (and not the kind you’re in a nursing home, but the kind you’re playing catch with the grandkids), risk of breast/prostate increases by a third, risk of cardiovascular disease increases by 2/3.

3. ACTIVE SITTERS (AM/PM workout-ers)

  • Even if you workout every day, the atrophy begins as soon as you stop moving.
  • You don’t need to exercise more, just move more frequently throughout the day
  • Focus on alignment of your spine (especially neck and tailbone), pulling your shoulders back, and breathing deeply when sitting

To address this issue in my own life, I modified my occasionally used cubicle to a STAND UP DESK (with a sit down option)!

stand up desk

Yes I’m weird… but it keeps me alert and thinking about my posture.So correcting your standing posture will reduce your back pain and burn more calories than sitting… in addition to trigger metabolic processes in the body that break down SUGARS and FATS.  Yay!  Work smarter, not harder 😉


Check out this LifeHack post with the five best stand up desks.


Check out my coworker drinking coffee and admiring my ghetto rigged stand up desk with its optional sit-down (aka move the keyboard and mouse out of the way and bring the laptop down to the desk) level.

stand up desk
Tony Y sippin and sittin at the office



  1. SCREEN – at eye level (chin parallel to ground)

2. KEYBOARD & MOUSE – rest where elbows are comfortably at 90 degrees

3.  POSTURE – feet hip distance apart, slight bend at the knees, pelvis tucked underneath (glutes engaged about 20%), core engaged (suck your tummy in just a little!), shoulders down and back, neck long (tuck chin where it is parallel to ground)

2014-04-17 su desk

4. MOVEMENT – better than standing is moving… if you can incorporate a treadmill or stair-stepping type of equipment underneath your desk and keep moving, you will counter all the negative side effects of sitting and burn calories at the same time!

I used a website to calculate the calories burned over a 5 day work week when standing versus sitting.

Sitting/Standing Calorie Calculator

The difference was over 1,000 calories.  That’s an extra 200 calories a day!

If a stand up desk isn’t an option, just remember these important factors…

1. Stand up once an hour.  Set an alarm on your phone.  It may annoy your coworkers or significant other, but less than cellulite and adult onset diabetes would annoy you.  Walk to coworkers instead of sending emails.

2. Do 30 minutes of activity a day.  No excuses. No “I don’t have time”.  Start with a pedometer.  If you’re all out gangster, get one of those movement-monitoring devices like FitBit, the Nike Fuel Band, or the to-be released Atlas band.  If you’re committment phobic, try incorporating more movement into your daily life (like the suggestions below).

3. Baby steps.  Take the stairs.  Park further away.  Do calf raises and squats when you brush your teeth.  Walk and talk instead of sit and chat.  YES – cleaning your house counts, just watch your alignment and posture and move big objects with your legs instead of back!

References (for some of the “facts” and “studies” I’ve thrown around in this article:

J Levine, MD [Mayo Clinic]



2 thoughts on “Stand Up Desk: Correct Standing Posture to Reduce Back Pain and Burn Calories

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