Standing more during the day could help people to lose weight, a new study has found.
According to the findings, a person weighing 65kg (143lbs) could lose 10kg (22lbs) in four years by standing instead of sitting for six hours per day.
Europeans spend an average of seven hours a day sitting, and prolonged sitting has been linked with obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Even physically active people may spend a large proportion of their day sitting down.
US researchers decided to assess whether standing burns more calories than sitting. They analysed the results from 46 studies involving almost 1,200 people. The participants had an average age of 33 and an average weight of 65kg.
The study found that standing burned 0.15 kcal more per minute than sitting. This means that if a person weighing 65kg substitutes standing for sitting for six hours a day, they burn an extra 54kcal per day.
The researchers said that if there was no increase in food intake, this would equate to a weight loss of 2.5kg (5.5lbs) in one year and 10kg 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," said the study' senior author, Prof Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
He noted that these results might be an underestimate because the participants in the study were standing still, but in reality, people tend to make small movements while standing.
"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," Prof Lopez-Jimenez said.
The researchers called for more research in this area, but concluded that standing instead of sitting could be another behaviour change aimed at reducing weight gain.
"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," Prof Lopez-Jimenez added.
Details of these findings are published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.