Standing helps reduce effects of sedentary lifestyle, study says

Spending more time standing can increase energy expenditure and combat the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS One.

Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain used a sample of 53 young adults, who were classified into two types, energy savers and energy spenders, depending on the amount of energy expenditure they consumed when switching from sitting or lying to standing. Savers consume very little energy in their activities and, therefore, the difference between sitting and lying or standing is practically nil for them. But energy spenders burn approximately 10 percent more energy when they switch from sitting or lying to standing, researchers said, noting that people with more muscle mass expend more energy than people with less muscle mass.

The team found that standing burns 45 kilocalories more per six-hour period than lying or sitting. One of the applications of the study, researchers said in a statement, could be the use of adjustable-height tables that enable people to work standing up and thus combat the negative effects of a sedentary working environment. These tables can be fully adjusted to suit the height of the user, depending on whether they want to sit or stand while working.

Considering the results, the authors recommend spending more time standing in the office as a good strategy to use up more energy and thus avoid storing it as fat, according to Jonatan Ruiz, PhD, co-author of the study.

"It is really important to change your position," Ruiz said. "If a person were to get up, take 10 steps, and sit down again, it appears that the effects of a sedentary lifestyle would be greatly reduced. Therefore, we must educate our school-age children and young people, as well as teachers, about the importance of avoiding spending long periods of time sitting down to considerably reduce the negative consequences of a sedentary lifestyle such as excess weight and obesity, or the risk of developing cardiovascular disease."