youummer is packed with music festivals, days spent walking through a museum, seeing live music concerts, and events that keep us going. Sometimes, you may find yourself doing long hours on your feet for several hours. And believe it or not, these long hours on your feet can make you feel sore and fatigued. But is standing up an exercise?
According to Heather Hamilton, an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist and co-founder of Barpath Fitness, the answer is: not quite.
“Standing for a long period of time can be physically demanding and can contribute to greater energy expenditure compared to sitting or sedentary activities; however, it is not generally considered formal training in the traditional sense,” she says.
When looking to check the “what makes a workout” box, Hamilton looks for activities that raise her heart rate and actions that encourage flexibility and mobility, among other things. “Standing alone doesn’t significantly raise the heart rate or challenge the cardiovascular system in the same way that aerobic exercises like running, biking, or swimming do,” he says. “Cardiovascular exercises are important for improving heart health, stamina, and overall stamina.”
Hamilton also points out that standing is just targeting your lower body muscles without enough resistance or intensity to effectively strengthen and build muscle mass. Therefore, it is a no go in building true strength.
Granted, standing is not exercise, but is there any benefit to standing for long periods of time?
While you’re not checking the box for that daily fitness, your body can benefit from regular standing. “Standing for long periods primarily engages your leg, core, and back muscles to maintain an upright posture and support your body weight,” says Hamilton. “This can improve muscle tone and increase calorie burn compared to sitting. It may also provide some benefits for your cardiovascular health by promoting blood circulation and preventing prolonged periods of inactivity.”
How to deal with pain from being on your feet for a long time
Although not technically an exercise, sometimes standing for a long time can make you feel sore, so what’s up? Hamilton explains that this can be due to a long list of reasons such as muscle fatigue, lack of movement, or poor posture. “Muscles are constantly working to maintain an upright posture and support your body weight, which can lead to pain and discomfort,” she says.
In particular, standing in one position for a long period of time, staring at you music festival-goers all day, restricts blood flow and reduces muscle contractions in your body. When this happens, Hamilton says, your body accumulates waste products like lactic acid in your muscles, contributing to pain and stiffness.
You may also feel pain after standing due to poor posture or conditioning. Hamilton says that poor posture (such as slouching or standing up and putting extra pressure on one leg) while standing can put extra stress on certain muscles and joints, leaving us feeling sore the next day. “If you’re not used to standing for long periods of time, your muscles may not be ready to handle the prolonged demand,” she says. “Lack of strength and endurance in relevant muscle groups can contribute to pain.”
Combat those long days on your feet by intentionally making time to move, stretch, and even hydrate. If you know you have a long day ahead of you, do a light workout beforehand.
Here’s a 19-minute full-body stretch to warm up your body and get you ready to stand up: