If you're like most people, you spend a whole lot of time resting on your haunches. You sit in the car driving to work; when you arrive at the office, you sit at your desk. After your workday, it's back to the car and then off to the couch where you sit for most of your evening.
The problem with all of this time spent resting on our bottoms is that we burn very few calories. Not only do we expend a paltry amount of energy sitting still, but we're also far less likely to move around while sitting than we are standing--after all, how often do you feel like getting up to look out the window or pet the dog once you're planted on the sofa?
Sedentary ways are a trend of the times. According to a recent survey, we spend an average of 12 hours per day seated--and that doesn't even count sleep.
The BBC and the University of Chester teamed up to find out exactly how many more calories you can burn by trading in the chair for good old-fashioned foot power. They studied 10 volunteers who were told to stand for at least three hours per day and wear an accelerometer (which measured their movements) as well as glucose and heart-rate readers.
The volunteers burned about 50 more calories per hour standing than sitting, simply due to the increased heart rate. Over the course of a year, standing for three hours every day would translate to an additional 30,000 calories burned. In turn, that would lead to eight pounds of weight loss. Not too shabby.
As dramatic as the increased calorie burn may be, weight loss is just one potential health benefit of taking a stand instead of a seat. The volunteers managed their blood sugar more efficiently on standing days versus sitting days, which could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Although standing may not be a replacement for cardio exercise and strength training, it turns out that exercising may likewise not be enough to make up for an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. According to the BBC, sitting for prolonged periods may cause more harm to your health than any workout can negate.
How to Stand It
Fortunately, most of us can easily fit standing into our daily routines. Simply get up while talking on the phone, watching TV, using your iPad or performing any other tasks that don't require a table or desk. Even better, pace back and forth for even greater calorie burning.
If your workplace will allow it, think about trading your traditional desk for a taller standing version. Some innovative workers even set up treadmill desks, walking at a slow pace as they work. If you can't do that, stand up for a few minutes in between tasks.
However you fit standing into your day, the more hours you spend upright, the better. If you want better health and a smaller waistline, it's time to get up and do something about it.
Nina Kate is a certified fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She also studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has contributed to numerous major publications as a freelance writer. Nina thrives on sharing nutrition and fitness knowledge to help readers lead healthy, active lives. Visit her wellness blog at BodyFlourish.com.