You may not be a couch potato at home. But what if you sit all day at work? Maybe you go from one meeting to another. Or you lose track of time whenever you’re in the zone.

Studies show that your health takes a major hit from sitting for long periods of time, as your risks rise for:

– Obesity
– Heart disease
– Diabetes
– Cancer

The good news: Studies also show that standing and moving more throughout the work day will positively impact your health.

What new research shows:

In a three-month study involving over 300 Danish office workers:

One group was encouraged to stand more and to sit less. They were advised to use standing desks and standing meeting tables, and were shown a defined route for “walking meetings.”

The second group was advised to behave as usual.

The first group reduced their sitting time at work by 71 minutes at one month and by 48 minutes at three months.

“They didn’t lose weight, but they did build more muscle and lost a little fat,” says wellness expert Michael Roizen, MD, who commented on the study. “Those are good things for our long-term health.”

The muscle gain and fat loss in the first group was minimal but statistically significant. The second group’s muscle gain and fat loss were unchanged.

In this study, simply standing up improved blood sugar and cholesterol, says Dr. Roizen.

What you can do:

Over time, replacing sitting time with walking can reduce your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement, he notes.

Standing desks that allow you to alternate between sitting and standing may help you achieve this goal.

Don’t have access to a standing desk at work? Here are some other things you can try:

– Standing meetings and walking meetings. “Walking meetings are our favorite at-work solution. Walking and talking get your creative juices flowing and support your physical health,” says Dr. Roizen.
– Taking frequent breaks. Set your computer alarm to remind yourself to stop working and stretch. Or do some standing yoga poses. Or, if your work space allows, get your blood flowing with squats, lunges, wall push-ups or planks.
– Step away from your desk at lunchtime. Leave your cube or office. Climb some stairs. Take a 10-minute walk around the block.

Dr. Roizen hopes future studies can determine if there are longer-term health benefits from increased standing and moving.

Meanwhile, “the data we have are clear,” he says. “If you do physical activity — 10,000 steps a day is the ideal goal, where you reduce metabolic problems — it’s really beneficial.”

Image: StrongProject Team via Vimeo