A pilot study conducted by researchers at the University of Chester in Cheshire, United Kingdom recently observed office workers to evaluate changes in energy expenditure and metabolism when sitting versus standing throughout a work day.
Devised and led by Dr. John Buckley, the study was inspired by recent research which suggests that spending long periods of time sitting can have a negative effect on health, irrespective of whether people exercise regularly. Researchers evaluated changes in energy expenditure and metabolism among 10 “deskbound” office workers. Data was collected with continuous blood glucose monitors, heart rate monitors, movement monitors, and a respiratory analysis system with the major aim to explain why cardiovascular health risk is linked to sedentary work and lifestyle, independent of exercise.
The data showed that blood glucose levels fell back to normal levels after a meal far more quickly on the days when the volunteers stood than when they sat. There was also evidence, from the heart rate monitors that they were wearing, that by standing they were burning more calories.
“The hours we spend every day at work, locked to our desks, can increase the risk of developing diabetes by 112 percent; the risk of heart attack by 147 percent; and death from cardiovascular events by 90 percent – alarming statistics,” said Dr. Buckley, Reader of Applied Exercise Science in Health and Lead Lecturer for the University’s MSc in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation. “The negative effects of sitting down, however, can be countered by the simple act of standing up. Standing rather than sitting will elevate the heartbeat six to 10 beats a minute. A faster heartbeat increases oxygen consumption, which in turn increases the number of calories we burn. Over the course of a year, doing nothing but standing instead of sitting could burn up to 30,000 extra calories and eight pounds of human fat.”
“Our study showed that when the participants were standing, their hearts rates were quite a lot higher – on average about 10 beats per minute higher and that makes a difference of about 0.7 of a calorie per minute. If you want to put that into activity levels then that would be the equivalent of running about 10 marathons a year – just by standing three or four hours in your day at work.”
“Research has shown us that changes in posture can mitigate the cardio-metabolic and ergonomic risks associated with sitting at work,” said Carrie Schmitz , Ergonomic & Wellness Research Manager, Ergotron. “Further research into regular standing, which influences both energy expenditure and blood glucose, may provide us helpful clues to the possible mechanisms of why sedentary behavior leads to significant risks of diabetes and diabetes-cardiovascular disease, so we may be able to make strides in cutting those risks down.”
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