Why would I want to stand when I could sit? It’s because standing has a great return on investment (ROI) for my health.

The Alliance recently allowed employees to decide whether they want to use a sit-stand desktop. The desktop sits on top of a standard desk and can be easily raised or lowered so the employee can sit or stand while working, as they choose.

As a data geek – OK, my official title is Health Information Manager – sitting in front of a computer seems to be my natural position. Yet when The Alliance allowed me to take a turn testing the sit-stand desktop, I discovered that I can easily do many tasks while standing instead of sitting.

Burning Calories

Alan’s ROI Calculation

Standing two hours per work day, based on Alan’s gender, height and weight, will burn 117 calories per work day.

  • 117 x 252 work days per year = 29,484 additional calories burned
  • There are 3,500 calories in a pound.
  • 29,484 additional calories burned divided by 3,500 calories per pound = 8.4 pounds lost

Making allowance for the days when Alan sits more and stands less – and the days when there are treats in the cafeteria – Alan has set 5 pounds as a realistic estimate of his potential weight loss from standing while working.

More important, I did some research and discovered that standing for part of the day has great ROI. Standing instead of sitting can burn as many as 70 calories per hour, according to websites like Just Stand and Live Strong. Your results will vary based on factors like gender, height and current weight.

Based on my height and weight, standing just two hours a day will let me burn an extra 585 calories a week. Multiply that out over a year and I have the potential to lose 8 pounds in a 12-month period.

Being a realist, I’ve modified my personal expectation to 5 pounds in the first year. Knowing how hard it can be to lose weight, I’m willing to see that as a “win.”

Alan using a sit-stand desk

Health Benefits

I’ll also gain other important health benefits. Sitting too much has been linked to many different health problems: heart disease, blood clots, higher blood sugar and insulin, poor physical condition and an increased risk for certain types of cancer.

Even if you don’t have a sit-stand desktop, you can fight off the impact of “sitting disease,” which is the term sometimes used to describe the health problems caused by prolonged sitting. The key is to get up and move around throughout your day.

Try to stand up at least once an hour. Take a walk to talk to a co-worker, pace while you’re on the phone or stand up while you’re reading a document. If you look for ways to stand more and sit less, you’ll find them.

Taking a Stand

The sit-stand desktops arrived at The Alliance a few weeks ago. Roughly one-third of employees – 15 out of 43 – asked to make sit-stand desktops part of their everyday work environment.

Most of us began using them the first day, although we have a few late adopters who are still making the adjustment. Some employees stand for most of their working hours; others aim for more modest goals, like my two hours a day.

It’s too early to say what the long-term effects will be, but we’re all hoping that we’re taking a stand for better health.


More About Fitness in the Workplace:

Alan Williams

Alan Williams

Health Information Manager at The Alliance
Alan Williams joined The Alliance in 1999 as health information manager. His main responsibilities include database development, programming, and data analytics. Alan generates multiple reports to help analyze membership utilization, disruptions, provider/medical grouping, contract performance, quality measures and market share.

In addition to his work at The Alliance, Alan serves on the Wisconsin Association of Perinatal Care (WAPC): Perinatal Data Committee. He is also involved in the Madison SQL Server Users Group and is a member of the official chapter of the Professional Association for SQL Server.

Prior to joining The Alliance, Alan spent more than nine years at WPS Health Insurance, holding roles in data analyst, training, and supervisory positions.

Alan received his bachelor degree in business administration-marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Read blog posts by Alan.
Alan Williams

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