More and more people are opting for standing desks at the office to reduce the adverse health effects of sedentarism.
Studies are increasingly pointing out the various ways in which excessive sedentary time is bad for our health.
One such study showed that too much sitting may speed up biological aging, as a sedentary lifestyle may shorten our telomeres, which are the protective caps at the end of chromosomes.
The link between obesity and sedentarism is also well-known. Adding depth to this link is another study that we recently reported on, which suggested that too much sitting can contribute to fat buildup around our internal organs.
We all know that exercising more is the key to countering the negative effects of sitting down, but finding the time and the willpower to head to the gym is sometimes challenging.
Could something as simple as standing instead of sitting also help us to lose weight?
A new study says it can. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, have carried out the first ever systematic review of existing studies that examine the difference between sitting down and standing in terms of calories burned.
Six hours of daily standing burns 54 calories
Dr. Lopez-Jimenez and team examined 46 studies, which amounted to a total of 1,184 participants who were aged 33 years, on average. The average weight of these subjects was 143.3 pounds (or 65 kilograms).
First study author Dr. Farzane Saeidifard, a cardiology fellow at the Mayo Clinic, sums up the findings.
"Overall," she says, "our study shows that, when you put all the available scientific evidence together, standing accounts for more calories burned than sitting."
Specifically, compared with sitting, standing was linked with 0.15 more calories burned per minute. This means that if an adult weighing 143.3 pounds (or 65 kilograms) replaced sitting with standing for 6 hours every day, they would burn 54 calories more than their sedentary counterpart.
Over the course of a year, this amounts to losing 5.5 pounds (or 2.5 kilograms), and 22 pounds (or 10 kilograms) over the course of 4 years.
Standing improves long-term health
"Standing for long periods of time for many adults may seem unmanageable, especially those who have desk jobs, but, for the person who sits for 12 hours a day, cutting sitting time to half would give great benefits," Dr. Lopez-Jimenez says.
"The idea is to work into our daily routines some lower-impact activities that can improve our long-term health," Dr. Lopez-Jimenez continues, adding that their findings support the concept of "Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis" (NEAT).
NEAT is a theory designed by Mayo Clinic obesity researchers that focuses on non-exercising daily activities that can help people to lose weight.
The findings of the new study are particularly significant given that Americans sit for a whopping 13 hours per day, on average. If you add 8 hours of sleep each night, this amounts to 21 hours of physical inactivity out of every 24.