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    Standing for Several Hours Certainly Feels Like a Workout… But Is It?

    Summer is filled with music festivals, museum visits, live music shows, and events that keep us on our feet. At times, we may find ourselves standing for extended periods. Surprisingly, these prolonged hours on our feet can result in feeling sore and fatigued. But does standing count as a workout?

    As per Heather Hamilton, a certified exercise physiologist and co-founder of Barpath Fitness, the answer is: Not really.

    “Standing for a long period of time can be physically demanding and may lead to increased energy expenditure compared to sitting or sedentary activities. However, it is generally not considered a formal workout in the traditional sense,” she explains.

    When considering the definition of a “workout”, Hamilton looks for activities that raise your heart rate and movements that promote flexibility and mobility, among other factors. “Simply standing does not significantly raise your heart rate, nor does it challenge your cardiovascular system in the same way that aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming do,” she notes. “Cardiovascular exercises are crucial for enhancing heart health, endurance, and overall stamina.”

    Hamilton also points out that standing only targets the muscles of your lower body without adequate resistance or intensity to effectively build and strengthen muscle mass. Therefore, it does not contribute to true strength building.

    Alright, standing may not be viewed as a workout, but are there any advantages to standing for extended periods?

    Even though it may not meet the criteria for daily fitness, regularly standing can still benefit your body. “Standing for extended periods primarily engages the muscles of your legs, core, and back to maintain an upright posture and bear your body weight,” explains Hamilton. “This can lead to improved muscle tone and increased calorie burn compared to sitting. It can also offer some cardiovascular benefits by promoting blood circulation and preventing prolonged periods of inactivity.”

    How to address soreness from prolonged standing

    Despite not being classified as a workout, prolonged standing can sometimes leave you feeling sore. Hamilton attributes this to various reasons such as muscle fatigue, lack of movement, or even poor posture. “The muscles are constantly working to maintain an upright posture and bear your body weight, which can result in soreness and discomfort,” she highlights.

    In particular, standing in one position for a prolonged period—especially evident at all-day music festivals—restricts blood flow and reduces your body’s muscle contractions. As a result, Hamilton explains, your body accumulates waste products like lactic acid in the muscles, contributing to soreness and rigidity.

    You may also experience soreness after standing due to poor posture or lack of conditioning. Hamilton points out that poor posture (such as slouching or putting additional pressure on one leg while standing) can place extra strain on specific muscles and joints, leading to soreness the following day. “If you are not accustomed to standing for long periods, your muscles may not be conditioned to handle the prolonged demand,” she elaborates. “Lack of strength and endurance in the relevant muscle groups can contribute to soreness.”

    Counteract those long periods of standing by deliberately allocating time to move around, stretch, and stay hydrated. If you know you have a long day ahead, engage in a light workout beforehand.

     

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