Carried out by the Mayo Clinic USA, the new study analysed results from 46 studies with a total of 1,184 participants to look at whether standing burns more calories than sitting. The results showed that standing burned 0.15 kcal per minute more than sitting and so by substituting standing for sitting for six hours a day, a 65 kg person would expend an extra 54 kcal a day.
If there was also no increase in food intake, then this would equate to a loss of 2.5 kilogram in one year and 10 kilogram in four years. The team added that the energy expenditure produced by standing could be even greater than shown in the study, as in the study participants were standing still whereas in reality people often make small movements while standing.
“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. People may even be more likely to walk to the filing cabinet or trash bin,” senior author Prof. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez commented.
As well as linking prolonged sitting to obesity, previous studies have also found a relationship between sedentary behaviour and health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, Professor Lopez-Jimenez said, adding that, “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.”
Although the team noted that more research is needed to see whether standing could be an effective and practical strategy for weight loss as well as to gather more data on the long-term health implications of standing for long periods, Prof. Lopez-Jimenez concluded, “It is important to avoid sitting for hours at a time. Standing is a very good first step — no pun intended — to avoid this mindset of sitting interminably without moving. Who knows, it may also prompt some people to do a little more and take up some mild physical activity, which would be even more beneficial.”
The results can be found published online in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.