Surely you have heard it on several occasions: sitting too long (sedentary life) greatly influences your health and can increase the risk of heart problems, type 2 diabetes, depression, back pain and a long etcetera of pathologies. By that same rule of three, it would make sense to think that being up longer would counteract these effects. But that begs a big question: Can standing still help you lose weight?
And the answer to this question is: yes. Various research supports the link between standing and losing weight. “Studies have shown that increasing standing time versus sitting can help weight loss and reduce the risk of weight gain over time,” says Carolyn Newberry, a specialist in gastric medicine.
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A 2018 meta-analysis published in the ‘European Journal of Preventive Cardiology’ looked at a total of 46 studies, which included data from 1,184 people. Regarding women, standing burned 0.1 calories per minute more than sitting. Although that may seem small, the researchers pointed out that it can add up. If a 65-pound person is up instead of sitting for six hours a day, they would burn 54 calories a day. And if you add it up, you could burn 2.5 pounds of fat.
Standing burns 0.1 calories per minute more than sitting. A 65-pound person lifted for six hours a day would burn 54 calories
Another study published in the ‘Journal of Physical Activity & Health’ points to the same conclusion. The researchers put 74 people to different activities for 15 minutes, while checking how many calories they burned. Study participants sat while using a computer and watched television, then got up to do the same, until they finally started walking. Walking obviously slims more than anything else, but researchers found that people who were up burned an average of nine more calories per hour than when sitting. It is not much, but it can accumulate over time.
A good strategy to lose weight?
It really is not the most effective approach. “Standing up burns more calories than sitting down, but it would take you a long time to notice that benefit,” explains Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. The expert points out that it could take between six months and a year before a noticeable difference is noticed. Newberry agrees: “Increasing the amount of time you spend on a daily basis is unlikely to produce major weight changes.”
That said, there are other health benefits of standing longer. It can improve your metabolic health, Newberry explains, and that can help you maintain or even increase weight loss that is done in other ways, like exercising regularly and eating a nutrient-dense diet. “The reduction in the number of hours you sit each day in favor of standing has been linked to the reduction in the development of certain common health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke,” he says. “It can also improve mood, lead to better sleep and increase productivity,” he adds.
A doctor recommends spending a few minutes every hour (approximately) at work to get up and walk.
Research has also shown that standing can help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides (the main component of body fat in humans), so there are definitely other benefits.
What to do to stand longer?
The problem for most people is that they often sit too long at work. Stanford recommends spending time every hour (more or less) getting up and walking. “This way you give your body a rest,” he explains.
And, if you want to spend more time standing at home, you can try doing things like watching TV up or walking while talking on the phone instead of sitting on the couch.