If you need a dig in the ribs to shift off the sofa, the latest research may persuade you to get onto your feet. Just two hours of pottering around your house or office each day could take three inches off your waistline, a study suggests. Those who spending less time sitting and more time walking are more likely to be thinner, healthier and at lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Using activity monitors, researchers tracked 782 men and women for a whole week, calculating how long each participant spent lying down, sitting, standing or walking.
They compared the activity data with each volunteer’s blood pressure, height, weight and waist circumference, and took blood samples to check their sugar, fat and cholesterol levels.
The team, led by the University of Queensland, Australia, found that people who spent more time standing rather than sitting had, on average, lower blood sugar, less fat in the blood and lower cholesterol levels.
People spend nine hours on average sitting down – 60 per cent of the time they spend awake.
But the study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that those who spent two hours longer each day walking rather than sitting had waistlines that were smaller, on average, by 7.5cm and body mass index that was 11 per cent lower.
For a woman of 5’6”, the drop in BMI is equivalent to a 1.5 stone weight loss, from 11 stone to 9 stone 7lb.
Researcher Dr Genevieve Healy, senior research fellow at the school of public health at Queensland University, said, “We found that time spent standing rather than sitting was significantly associated with lower levels of blood sugar and blood fats. Replacing sitting time with stepping was also associated with a significant reduction in waistline and BMI. The associations it reveals are consistent with what is known already about the benefits of a non-sedentary lifestyle. More work is needed to understand cause and effect.”
The authors suggested that office workers should be encouraged to walk around at work – and use stand-up desks rather than sitting for hours in front of a computer screen.
Dr Healy added, “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 of many people. Get up for your heart health and move for your waistline.”