Sitting may be bad for you – and even exercise might not undo the damage.
The fact that standing is better than sitting is not a new finding, reported the BBC. A study published in the Lancet in the 1950s found that bus conductors (who stood) had half the heart disease risk of bus drivers (who sat).
However, a new study by Dr John Buckley and researchers from the UK’s University of Chester confirms standing’s benefits.
Dr Buckley’s team asked 10 real estate agency workers to work standing for at least three hours per day for a week. All wore an accelerometer, which measures movement and heart rate, and glucose monitors.
Standing is more physically active than sitting, and physical activity levels improve the way our bodies break down glucose and transport it into our cells. Persistently high glucose levels increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Prolonged sitting also markedly reduces the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which metabolises blood fats. Without it, triglycerides and other fats in the blood rise, leading to heart disease.
The University of Chester study found standing workers’ blood sugar levels returned to normal more quickly after a meal. It also found they burned the equivalent of an extra eight pounds (about 3.5kg) of body weight per year – or the physical activity equivalent of running 10 marathons per year.
Dr Buckley concluded that apart from regular exercise, the constant, barely noticeable increase in muscle activity that standing generates is essential to keep our blood sugar levels healthy.