Want to Lose Weight and Lower Cholesterol? Stand Up

Replacing two hours of sitting with two hours spent standing can improve your health. (Photo: mimagephotography/Shutterstock)

Want to feel healthier? New research suggests you can do something else besides diet and exercise to improve your health: stand up.

Standing can help you lose weight

A 2017 Mayo Clinic study shows that standing for six hours a day could help people lose weight over a long period of time.

“Overall, our study shows that, when you put all the available scientific evidence together, standing accounts for more calories burned than sitting,” said Dr. Farzane Saeidifard, Mayo Clinic cardiology fellow.

Participants in the study burned an average of .15 calories per minute more while standing than sitting.

The doctors who conducted the study believe that people can also reap benefits from non-exercise daily activities like standing. “The idea is to work into our daily routines some lower-impact activities that can improve our long-term health,” said Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez.

Standing can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels

This isn't the only study to say standing is good for you. A 2015 study looked at the chemical markers associated with short-term standing sessions.

About 800 people participated in study, which appeared in the European Heart Journal, in which researchers compared various health markers of participants who sat and those who stood. Researchers found that when subjects stood, they showed improvements in sugar, fat and cholesterol levels in the blood. Even just two hours a day spent standing rather than sitting was associated with a 2 percent reduction in fasting blood sugar levels and 11 percent lower average triglycerides. It was also associated with the so-called "good" markers of cholesterol or HDL.

Improvements were even more robust when sitting time was replaced with a physical activity such as walking.

For the study, researchers took initial blood, height and weight measurements from the participants, gave them an activity monitor for a week, and then compared their health data after a week to determine if there were any changes.

The study's authors note that while much has been done to promote exercise as a means to better health, little attention has been paid to the detrimental health effects of sitting and how simply standing up for a few hours each day could do more to improve a person's health than hitting the gym for an hour before a day spent behind a desk.

In an ideal world, you would hit the gym for some light to moderate cardio exercise before heading to the office, where you would spend the day alternating between sitting, standing and walking. Top it all off with some household chores and an after-dinner walk, and you'd be well on your way to better health.

But if you can't manage all of that, the one step that you could take to reduce your risk for a number of chronic health issues? Simply stand up.