Replacing Sitting Time With Standing Facilitates Weight Loss

Many people, even some who exercise regularly, sit for up to seven hours every day, and this prolonged sitting has been linked to health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

To learn more about this issue, some researchers decided to examine whether standing uses more calories than sitting. They looked at the outcomes of 46 studies involving 1,184 people who were 33 years old, and weighed 143 pounds, on average.

The data showed that by exchanging six hours of sitting for six hours of standing daily, a 143 pound individual would burn an extra 54 kcal per day. So, if that person’s food intake remained the same they would lose 5.6 pounds in one year, or 22 pounds in four—just by standing still.

“Standing not only burns more calories, the additional muscle activity is linked to lower rates of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, so the benefits of standing could go beyond weight control,” said professor Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, Chief of Preventive Cardiology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester.

Because the study participants were standing still, the difference between standing and sitting energy expenditure could be more than the findings indicate. “Our results might be an underestimate because when people stand they tend to make spontaneous movements like shifting weight or swaying from one foot to another, taking small steps forward and back,” said Professor Lopez-Jimenez. “People may even be more likely to walk to the filing cabinet or trash bin.”

The investigators point out that more research is needed to determine whether standing more often is an effective and practical means of weight loss. Plus, the long term health effects of standing for prolonged periods need to be considered.

“It's important to avoid sitting for hours at a time,” says Lopez-Jimenez. “Standing is a very good first step…it may also prompt some people to do a little more and take up some mild physical activity, which would be even more beneficial.”

Source: European Society of Cardiology
Photo credit: John M

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