You are more likely to lose weight if you stand up for three hours each day in the office, Dr John Buckley from Chester University, England believes.

Dr. Buckley, an exercise scientist in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition, salvaged an old oak lectern and used it as a standing desk, and set out to work like Nobel Prize author Ernest Hemingway would – on his feet. Buckley is doing so for three hours each day.

Dr. Buckley worked out that by standing at a desk for three hours, rather than sitting down, he burns an extra 144 calories daily. He adds that this is achieved with no change in leisure time activities or job duties.

If you burn an extra 144 calories per day, that builds up to over 30,000 calories for somebody working 5 days per week and taking 5 weeks’ vacation per year – more than eight pounds of human fat.

Dr. Buckley said:

“This is the perfect way for any office-bound worker to achieve the typical New Year’s resolution of wanting to lose seven pounds without changing anything else – how easy is that?”

Dr. Buckley, along with a former colleague, Professor Stuart Biddle, decided to share a new year’s resolution by spending three hours a day at a lectern-come-desk. The two men had been working together promoting physical activity for health through BASES (British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences).

Standing desk enthusiasts, apart from Ernest Hemingway, have included Winston Churchill, Donald Rumsfeld and Thomas Jefferson.

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Former US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld working at the stand-up desk in his office

Dr Buckley commented: “I had no idea Hemingway did this when I decided to use the standing desk, but apparently he worked this way from the very beginning, so hopefully I’m in good company.”

He explained that over the last five decades, British people’s participation in exercise and sports have remained fairly constant. Therefore, it must be a combination of sedentary behaviors and eating habits that have been the main contributors to the gradual increase in people’s waistlines.

Dr. Buckley, who works on the seventh floor of the college’s Main Campus in Chester, says he regularly tries to make the extra effort of using the stairs rather than the elevator to get to his office. He advises people to do the same whenever and wherever they can.

It is the tiny changes we can make to our behavior, such as standing at our desks, using the stairs, walking to the corner shop, etc., that can make a huge difference to our overall physical activity levels, which in turn have an impact on our bodyweight and general health, he explained.

Over the last 20 years, scientists have been looking at ways of making office life more physically active. In May 2007, researchers published a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on how walking workstations may eventually impact on the bodyweights of obese office workers.

They observed office workers whose BMIs (body mass index) were over 30 participating in a combination of working at a treadmill desk and sitting normally during their working day.

They found that those who walked slowly for a few hours each day would lose from 20 to 30 kilos (44 to 66 pounds) within a twelve-month period.

Written by Christian Nordqvist