The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Stand for Something -- Anything!!

Posted in
Move more

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

Just standing may be an important component of total daily calories burned. A recent study showed that compared to lean women, obese women sat more and stood less.  They also spent half as much time moving around as the lean women. Still, the researchers calculated that if the obese women sat less, stood more, and doubled their weekly activity time, they could burn about 315 more calories a day.

How can this be? One answer is obvious. Your body burns more calories standing than sitting. One-third more to be exact. That’s because the large muscles in your legs and back are fighting gravity to keep you standing erect.

Less obvious but implied by this study, is that people who stood more also moved more. Perhaps the saying, “You have to walk before you run” should be adapted to, “You have to stand before you walk.”

A third intriguing explanation has to do with fat-burning enzymes that naturally occur in your body. According to new research from the University of Missouri-Columbia, when you sit, these enzymes seem to shut off. This prevents stored fat from being put into the blood stream to be used as an energy source.  The research also seems to indicate that when you are seated, fat that is already in the blood stream prefers to be stored in the fat tissue instead of being burned by muscle.

While this latter explanation is intriguing, more research is needed. Also, you shouldn’t trade in your long walks for standing all day. If you are already physically active, stay active and when you are not exercising, sit less. If you are not active, stand up more. Here are ideas for making a stand for good health:

  1. When the phone rings, stand up for the duration of the call.
  2. You know those “standing” meetings that occur regularly on your calendar? Make them truly standing by not sitting! Send this blog post to your friends or work colleagues – perhaps they will stand with you!Stand in the stands.
  3. Who says you have to sit to watch your child’s soccer game?

What ideas do you have for standing more? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.