Standing vs. sitting: Fewer pounds, less heart disease?

Research we're watching

Published: May, 2018

Compared to sitting, standing burns slightly more calories — about 0.15 calories per minute. But that tiny difference adds up: a person who weighs 143 pounds could burn an extra 54 calories per day by standing instead of sitting for six hours, as researchers report in the Jan. 1, 2018, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Assuming that person kept eating the same number of calories per day, that translates to 5.5 pounds of weight loss after one year. The estimate comes from data pooled from 46 different studies.

A separate study of more than 2,600 people ages 60 and older looked at how sedentary habits affect heart disease risk. Participants reported how long they sat (on one weekday and one weekend day) at the start of the study and again two years later. The follow-up lasted an average of just over nine years. Researchers found that older adults who sat for an average of just under about three hours a day were 33% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people who sat for an average of about seven hours a day. The study was published in the March 2018 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.