Sedentary jobs such as office work involves prolonged physical inactivity and increased sitting, which has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and overall mortality. A common practice among office workers is to break up sitting time with short bouts of standing or walking in order to burn calories and reduce sedentary job-related health risks. However, research suggests that office workers can burn even more calories by doing squats and lunges instead.

The Study

The researchers took a group of 20 healthy individuals and had them complete four conditions that revolved around sitting for 30 minutes:

a. 30 minutes of sitting, with a break of 2 minutes of standing
b. 30 minutes of sitting, with a break of 2 minutes of treadmill walking
c. 30 minutes of sitting, with a break of a set of calisthenics exercises including squats and lunges
d. 30 minutes of sitting, with no break

The researchers measured the subjects’ heart rate and energy expenditure throughout each experiment. In the end, the calisthenics resulted in the highest total heart rate and energy expenditure compared to standing and walking.

“Calisthenics may be a time efficient method to break up sedentary time without individuals leaving their work environment. Hence calisthenics could be utilised to disrupt workplace sedentary time and improve cardiovascular health and assist in weight management.”, the researchers concluded.

So the next time you decide to take a walk during work, you may want to opt for a set of squats and lunges instead. Sure, squats and lunges may be more conspicuous than walking, but you’ll burn more calories!

Referenced Study:

Carter SE et al. Energy expenditure and heart rate response to breaking up sedentary time with three different physical activity interventions. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 May;25(5):503-9. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2015.02.006.

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Matthew Chan

Matthew is the founder, writer and chief editor of He has over 10 years of strength training experience and has competed in bodybuilding and men's physique shows. He is a licensed massage therapist and is currently studying sports massage. Matthew combines his love of fitness and writing to share his thoughts, experiences and research regarding the fitness industry.