Energy Expenditure During Acute Periods of Sitting, Standing, and Walking

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Identifying strategies to increase energy expenditure (EE) may help combat the harmful effects of sedentary behavior. This study examined EE during sitting, standing, and walking.


Participants (N = 74) were randomized to 2 of the following activities: sitting using a laptop computer (SIT-C), sitting watching television (SIT-T), standing watching television (STAND), and walking at a self-selected pace ≤3.0 (mph) (WALK). Each activity lasted 15 minutes with a 3-minute transition period between activities. The experimental conditions were: SIT-C to STAND (N = 18), SIT-T to WALK (N = 18), STAND to SIT-C (N = 20), and WALK to SIT-T (N = 18). EE was measured using indirect calorimetry.


Based on the first activity performed, EE during WALK (55.92 ± 14.19 kcal) was significantly greater than SIT-C (19.63 ± 6.90 kcal), SIT-T (18.66 ± 4.01 kcal), and STAND (21.92 ± 5.08 kcal) (P < .001). Cumulative EE in SIT-T to WALK (74.50 ± 17.88 kcal) and WALK to SIT-T (82.72 ± 21.70 kcal) was significantly greater than EE in SIT-C to STAND (45.38 ± 14.78 kcal) and STAND to SIT-C (45.64 ± 9.69 kcal) (P < .001).


Conclusion: Substituting periods of sitting or standing with walking significantly increases EE, but substituting periods of sitting with standing may not affect EE. Thus, the potential benefits of standing as opposed to sitting need further investigation beyond the role of EE.

The authors are with the Dept of Health and Physical Activity, Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Creasy ( is corresponding author.