A preliminary study of 780 men and women suggests that replacing 2 hours of sitting a day with 2 hours of standing or stepping may be good for your heart and even your waistline.

More time standing was associated with better blood sugar and cholesterol levels and with lower fats in the blood.

Desk chair

While the study couldn’t show that less time spent sitting improved health, Genevieve Healy says the associations it revealed were consistent with what was already known about the benefits of an active lifestyle.

“To get our results, we gave activity monitors to more than 780 men and women aged between 36 and 80,” she explains. “Participants wore the monitors for 24 hours a day for one week, and from this data we were able to accurately determine how long each participant spent sleeping, sitting or lying down, standing and stepping, which included walking and running.

“We also took blood samples and measured blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference.”

Lower BMI and smaller waist

An extra two hours a day spent standing rather than sitting was associated with approximately two percent lower average fasting blood sugar levels and 11 percent lower average triglycerides (fats in the blood).

“Extra standing time was also associated with higher average levels of the good type of cholesterol known as HDL, and replacing two hours a day of sitting time with stepping was associated with about an 11 percent lower average BMI and a 7.5-centimeter (3-inch) smaller average waist circumference,” she adds.

The study also found average blood sugar and triglyceride levels fell significantly for every two hours spent stepping rather than sitting.

“These findings provide important preliminary evidence that strategies to increase the amount of time spent standing or walking rather than sitting may benefit the heart and metabolism,” Healy says.

The research is published in the European Heart Journal, which also includes a related editorial by the Mayo Clinic and Mayo College of Medicine’s Professor Francisco Lopez-Jimenez.


This text is published here under a Creative Commons License.
Author: Emma Lee-UQ
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