Standing for longer periods of time can prevent obesity.
In a study conducted by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with The Cooper Institute, The University of Texas and the University of Georgia, results show that standing for at least 6 hours in one day lowers the odds of being obese.
In the past, researches have shown that sedentary behavior such as watching TV or commuting has negative health effects. However, the lone effect of standing has not yet been studied as to whether it is beneficial or not to health. Dr. Kerem Shuval, Director of Physical Activity & Nutrition Research at the American Cancer Society, and team conducted a study that investigated whether standing habits had an effect on obesity and metabolic risk from around 7000 adult patients in the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas from 2010 to 2015. Standing time was compared with obesity measures such as body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and waist circumference. The association between these factors was assessed using the metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors that are known to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.
Standing Lowers Obesity Risk
Results of the study showed that for men, standing a quarter of the time resulted in a 32% reduced likelihood of obesity, and standing half of the time increased this reduction to 59%. However, standing three quarters of the time did not have any significant effect on the risk of obesity.
On the other hand, for women, standing a quarter of the time resulted in a 35% reduction, standing half of the time resulted in 47% reduction, and standing a three quarters of the time had a 57% reduction in obesity risk. There was also no relationship between standing and metabolic syndrome among men and women.
In the study, it was also investigated whether the performance of physical activity in combination with standing had an additive effect on the reduction in obesity risk. The team was able to find out that those who were meeting physical activity guidelines, specifically performing 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every day, the addition of standing time further decreased the likelihood for obesity, as well as metabolic syndrome both in men and women. Men who were meeting physical activity guidelines and who stood for a quarter to half of the time had a 57% reduction, while those who were exercising and standing for three quarters of the time had a 64% reduction for abdominal obesity.
It should be noted, though, that even though standing has a high potential of reducing the risk for obesity, the study’s limitations should also be considered in handling this information. For one, it is actually unclear whether less standing leads to more obesity, or the other way around in which obese individuals just actually stand less. In order to answer this question, further studies have to be conducted.
Another issue is that even though obesity parameters were objectively measured, standing and physical activity data was provided subjectively by the subjects, which means there could be over- or underestimation. Also, it is quite unclear whether standing meant really just standing, or standing while moving. Standing and moving requires more energy while just standing still has the same energy expenditure as simply sitting.
Finally, some studies actually correlate prolonged standing to adverse health effects, such as a higher risk for varicose veins. Because of the contradicting findings that have emerged, further research needs to be conducted in order to determine if standing is really beneficial or not.
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Written by: Yevgeny Aster Dulla, Msc