The researchers analysed data to determine whether standing burned more calories than sitting. From 46 studies with 1,184 participants, they found that standing burned 0.15 kcal per minute more than sitting.
If a 65 kg person replaced standing for sitting for a regular work day, they would expend an extra 54 kcal a day. Assuming food consumption stayed the same, that would amount to 2.5kg in a year and 10 kg in four years.
"Standing not only burns more calories, the additional muscle activity is linked to lower rates of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, so the benefits of standing could go beyond weight control,” senior author Professor Francisco Lopaz-Jimenez, Chief of Preventive Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said in a statement.
The difference in energy expenditure between standing and sitting may be even more significant than the study revealed. In the study, participants were required to stand still, when in reality people make small movements while standing.
Professor Lopez-Jimenez said, "Our results might be an underestimate because when people stand they tend to make spontaneous movements like shifting weight or swaying from one foot to another, taking small steps forward and back. People may even be more likely to walk to the filing cabinet or trash bin."
The authors concluded that this behavioural change could help to reduce the risk of long term weight gain. More research is required to determine whether such a strategy is effective and practical. The long-term health implications of standing for extended periods should also be investigated, according to the researchers.
"It's important to avoid sitting for hours at a time. Standing is a very good first step – no pun intended – to avoid this mindset of sitting interminably without moving. Who knows, it may also prompt some people to do a little more and take up some mild physical activity, which would be even more beneficial,” said Professor Lopez-Jimenez.