Time to Stand Up? New Research Reviews Problems with Sitting Too Much

We have written previously about the benefits of standing — and the dangers of sitting too much — during the day.

For example, we noted that — with more research linking a sedentary lifestyle to mortality and chronic diseases — Jacksonville University is conducting a study aimed at showing the impacts of standing on student health. The Florida Times Union reports that Jacksonville University is using “standing desks” to help reduce the eight to nine hours that a college student spends sitting during the day.

If standing at one’s desk carries benefits, a new study looks at the key question: How much?

The study is titled “Differences of energy expenditure while sitting versus standing: A systematic review and meta-analysis” and published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. As the authors write:

“Replacing sitting with standing is one of several recommendations to decrease sedentary time and increase the daily energy expenditure, but the difference in energy expenditure between standing versus sitting has been controversial. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determine this difference.”

“The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to investigate the difference in (energy expenditure) between sitting and standing by pooling all available evidence. These results could determine if decreasing sitting time may be considered a valid strategy to decrease sedentary behaviour, increase the amount of daily EE and possibly decrease the risk of obesity and other metabolic and cardiovascular conditions.”

Standing Matters

The results? As MedPage Today reports:

“Standing more instead of sitting was associated with a modest increase in daily energy expenditure that may add up to weight loss in the long term, according to a meta-analysis. When standing, people burned an extra 0.15 calories a minute — 0.1 calories for women and 0.19 calories for men per minute. At that rate, a 65-kg person (143.3 lbs) could burn an extra 54 calories a day just by standing instead of sitting for 6 hours.”

The study authors wrote: “Assuming no increase in energy intake, this difference in energy expenditure would be translated into the energy content of about 2.5 kg [5.5 lbs] of body fat mass in 1 year.”

While that amount of weight loss may seem modest, other benefits from standing vs. sitting have been noted.

MedPage Today wrote:

“Time spent standing, rather than sitting, was associated with lower fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol in a new study. Researchers attached a monitor to nearly 700 participants over 7 days and found that each additional 2 hours per day spent sitting was significantly associated with higher body mass index, waist circumference, fasting plasma glucose (about 1%), total/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ratio (5%), triglycerides (12%), 2-hour plasma glucose (4%), and with lower HDL cholesterol (0.07 mmol/L).”