Alternating Sitting and Standing Increases the Workplace Energy Expenditure of Overweight Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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To determine whether alternating bouts of sitting and standing at work influences daily workplace energy expenditure (EE).


Twenty-three overweight/obese office workers (mean ± SD; age: 48.2 ± 7.9 y, body mass index: 29.6 ± 4.0 kg/m2) undertook two 5-day experimental conditions in an equal, randomized order. Participants wore a “metabolic armband” (SenseWear Armband Mini) to estimate daily workplace EE (KJ/8 h) while working (1) in a seated work posture (SIT condition) or (2) alternating between a standing and seated work posture every 30 minutes using a sit-stand workstation (STAND-SIT condition). To assess the validity of the metabolic armband, a criterion measure of acute EE (KJ/min; indirect calorimetry) was performed on day 4 of each condition.


Standing to work acutely increased EE by 0.7 [95% CI 0.3–1.0] KJ/min (13%), relative to sitting (P = .002). Compared with indirect calorimetry, the metabolic armband provided a valid estimate of EE while standing to work (mean bias: 0.1 [–0.3 to 0.4] KJ/min) but modestly overestimated EE while sitting (P = .005). Daily workplace EE was greatest during the STAND-SIT condition (mean condition difference [95% CI]: 76 [8–144] KJ/8-h workday, P = .03).


Intermittent standing at work can modestly increase daily workplace EE compared with seated work in overweight/obese office workers.

Thorp ( and Hammond are with the Dept of Neurovascular Hypertension and Kidney Disease; Kingwell is with the Metabolic and Vascular Physiology Laboratory; Sethi, Owen, and Dunstan are with the Physical Activity and Behavioural Epidemiology Laboratories; Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. English is with the International Centre for Allied Health Evidence (iCAHE) and the Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SW, Australia.