Image: Ramsey Beyer Image: Ramsey Beyer

There are now less than 100 days to go until the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so we looked at how the average ‘office athlete’ can match the exerts of Olympic athletes. The good news for those that have yet to be called up as a last-minute reserve for the GB team is that all that’s needed to burn calories like an Olympian is to simply stand up at work.

UK workers and employers are asked to sit less and move more on Friday 29 April, for “On Your Feet Britain” day when everyone is asked to consider their health in the office, get out of their seats and just stand up. In the UK, we sit on average for about nine hours a day, 70% of that is at work. Outside of work, there’s also the commute on the bus, train or car and sitting at home to factor in. There are well documented health risks from sitting too long; in fact, sitting is dubbed the new smoking because of just how bad it is. Prolonged sitting impacts the spine and puts computer users a higher risk for musculoskeletal disorders, as well as as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Olympic events versus standing at a desk

You burn more calories standing than sitting, so we calculated the equivalent of some Olympic events in calories that you’d burn by getting out of a chair:

  • Triathlon – Standing up at work for a week would burn an extra 1500 calories, about the same as doing an Olympic triathlon.
  • Marathon – Runners will burn nearly 2500 calories; if you stand for 10 minutes every day in the run up to the Olympics, that’s how much you’d burn too.
  • Cycling – 800 calories per hour is what team GB cyclists are likely to burn, that would take you an hour of standing every day for a working week.
  • Diving – Olympic divers might have rock hard bodies, but the sport itself is done in quick bursts averaging about 3.4 calories per minute. If you stand, rather than sit, you’d burn that in six minutes.
  • Swimming – Physically demanding, swimming burns100 calories for every 200 metre race, the equivalent of 45 minutes standing throughout the day.
  • 100 metres – Sprinters will burn 7 calories in under 10 seconds, you could go from sitter to sprinter in about two and a half minutes.
  • Beach Volleyball – this burns about 8 calories per minute, standing at work burns about 3 per minute, and who wouldn’t appreciate a beach volleyball outfit at work?
When your full time job involves sitting at a computer all day, the idea of Olympic level fitness is usually the last thing on your mind. But even if you can’t spike a ball like an athlete, why not burn calories like one? Just standing and lightly moving can have a huge impact on calorie burn during the day. In a matter of no time you’ll be burning calories with the best of them.

In the UK, only 1% of employers offer standing desks, compared with over 90% in Scandinavia and there’s a huge health need to get Brits standing more – and the simplest, most effective way to do it is just to stand up at work more. The advice by Public Health England is to take a couple of minutes break to move about, three times an hour.

The online calculator Burncalories.juststand.org helps you calculate how many more you will burn.

By Betsey Banker, Vertical Marketing Manager of Wellness at Ergotron