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Mayo study finds weight loss can be achieved by standing instead of sitting

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Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez

Looking to lose weight? Try standing instead of sitting, particularly while on the job.

That's the conclusion reached by Mayo Clinic researchers in a new study published this week in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

The study found that American adults could lose more than 5 pounds annually — and 22 pounds over four years — by converting six hours of sitting into standing. While that may be easier said than done, Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez , senior author and chair of preventative cardiology at Mayo Clinic, says the first systemic review of sitting/standing could help address the nation's obesity epidemic, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among other things.

Mayo researchers found that standing burns 0.15 calories per minute more than sitting. That equates to 54 extra calories when spread over six hours for a 143-pound adult, assuming no other caloric changes.

"Standing for long periods of time for many adults may seem unmanageable, especially those who have desk jobs, but, for the person who sits for 12 hours a day, cutting sitting time to half would give great benefits," Lopez-Jimenez said.

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The researchers analyzed 46 prior studies with nearly 1,200 participants to perform what's being called "meta-analysis" to evaluate the caloric difference between sitting and standing. The average participant in those studies was 33 years old and weighed 143.3 pounds. Sixty percent of participants were male.

Mayo's research team found that the difference between standing and sitting was roughly twice as high in men as in women. Calories burned is proportional to muscle mass, and standing activates more muscles, researchers say.

The study provides more evidence to support Mayo's own NEAT program , or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which was established years ago.

Dr. James Levine and the Mayo Clinic Active Life Research Team created the NEAT program after spending a decade researching nutrition, physical activity and behavior related to weight management and obesity prevention. They found that a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic is the decrease in expenditure of human energy through lack of movement in daily life.

Mayo Clinic Ventures has been marketing the intellectual property behind NEAT for years, including issuing certifications to companies who meet NEAT requirements. The product certification process began in 2013.

"As our civilization must keep moving to survive, NEAT is a lifesaving, accessible concept — anyone can do it. I am heartened that NEAT will help show the way," Dr. Levine, who now works at Mayo's Arizona campus, said when the certification process was first announced.

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Dr. James Levine

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