2 Your Health: Does standing at work lead to better health?

Study shows sitting less and moving more may result in small fat loss; muscle gain

Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to obesity and health problems.

Many of us sit all day long at work so, could more standing make a difference?

Recent research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests an intervention that encourages standing and more movement throughout the day may positively impact health over time.

“This showed that, in fact, they built muscle mass over that period of time, they didn’t lose weight but they did build more muscle and lost a little fat,” said Michael Roizen, M.D., Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic. ”Those are good things for our long term health.”

Encouragement to stand and move

Researchers studied more than 300 office workers in Denmark who had sit-stand desks for three months.

Part of the group received an intervention that included encouragement to stand more often, installation of standing meeting tables, definition of a walking meeting route, and education about the benefits of sitting less.

The rest of the participants were asked to behave as usual.

Gains and losses

The study found that the intervention group reduced sitting time by 71 minutes during working hours.

Results also show that people in the intervention group had a small reduction in fat mass and a small increase in muscle mass.

Dr. Roizen said it’s minimal, but still statistically significant.

Movement matters

Dr. Roizen would like to see the health impact of standing interventions over a longer period of time, but said anything that helps people move during the day is worth a try.

“The data we have are clear. If you do physical activity, 10,000 steps a day is the ideal goal where you reduce metabolic problems, if you do that, it’s really beneficial,” said Dr. Roizen.

Here are Dr. Roizen’s suggestions to keep folks moving in the right direction:

  • Set a reminder alarm every hour to encourage getting up and walking for a couple of minutes.
  • If a standing desk isn’t in the budget, stack books under your computer monitor and keyboard.
  • Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair.
  • Walk over to a colleague to chat instead of sending an email.

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