Stand up and be counted: That’s the message from a University of Queensland study that found more time standing could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels while lowering fats in the blood.
Led by UQ School of Public Health’s Dr Genevieve Healy, the study found spending time stepping rather than sitting could have additional health benefits for the waistline.
While the study couldn’t show that less time spent sitting improved health, Dr Healy said the associations it revealed were consistent with what was already known about the benefits of an active lifestyle.
”To get our results, we gave activity monitors to more than 780 men and women aged between 36 and 80,” she said.
”Participants wore the monitors for 24 hours a day for one week, and from this data we were able to accurately determine how long each participant spent sleeping, sitting or lying down, standing and stepping, which included walking and running.”
”We also took blood samples and measured blood pressure, height, weight and waist circumference”.
An extra two hours a day spent standing rather than sitting was associated with approximately 2% lower average fasting blood sugar levels and 11% lower average triglycerides (fats in the blood).
“Extra standing time was also associated with higher average levels of the good type of cholesterol known as HDL, and replacing two hours a day of sitting time with stepping was associated with about an 11% lower average BMI and a 7.5cm smaller average waist circumference,” she said.
The study also found average blood sugar and triglyceride levels fell significantly for every two hours spent stepping rather than sitting.
“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,” Dr Healy said.
“Get up for your heart health and move for your waistline.”
The research is published in The European Heart Journal, which also carries an editorial by the Mayo Clinic and Mayo College of Medicine’s Professor Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, who praised the UQ study.
(Source: The University of Queensland, The European Heart Journal)