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You’ve probably heard the fairly conventional wisdom that, all else being equal, standing is better for you than sitting. But the science behind that claim has sometimes been unclear or even contradictory — a fact a recent analysis of dozens of studies tries to clear up. Its conclusion: Standing can help, but the results appear fairly modest.
The metanalysis, by Mayo Clinic researchers, concluded that standing for six hours a day burns an extra 54 calories. Over the course of a year, that could translate to a weight loss of more than five pounds, assuming a person did not consume extra calories to make up for those lost.
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“Overall, our study shows that, when you put all the available scientific evidence together, standing accounts for more calories burned than sitting,” Farzane Saeidifard, a study author and cardiology fellow at the clinic, said in a statement.
The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, was the first review and metanalysis to look at the difference between sitting and standing. It pulled in data from 46 studies involving 1,184 participants.
“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,” said cardiologist Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, another of the study’s authors.
The authors also said more research was needed to determine the longer-term effectiveness and health implications of standing for longer periods.
The analysis also provides some support to the benefits of even moderate physical activities in daily life. Researchers have been more closely studying the benefits of what is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), or calories burned through normal daily activities.
“Standing is one of the components of NEAT, and the results of our study support this theory,” Lopez-Jimenez said. “The idea is to work into our daily routines some lower-impact activities that can improve our long-term health.”