WELLNESS
06/27/2016 11:18 am ET

If You're Trying To Lose Weight, Walk Away From The Standing Desk

In the words of Kelly Clarkson, "Just walk away."
Ezra Bailey via Getty Images

Desk jobs can be a huge hurdle in the way of weight loss. Sitting at a desk all day has been linked to obesity, heart disease and premature death. Overwhelming scientific evidence points to too much sitting as the cause of so many health woes, so standing desks must be the answer, right?

Wrong. Turns out, your standing desk may be practically useless. In order for a standing desk to actually combat the effects of sitting, office workers need to stand two to four hours every day. In reality, according to a 2016 Cochrane analysis, the average sit-stand desk only decreases sit time by an average of 30 minutes to two hours a day. What's more, while standing for long periods of time does burn a few more calories than sitting, it also increases the risk of varicose veins and carotid atherosclerosis

If your goal is reaching or maintaining a healthy weight, this news is incredibly frustrating. If you can't sit and you can't stand enough, what's an office worker to do?

According to a new study published this month in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, walking around the office can help people avoid weight gain. In the experiment, volunteers who walked at an easy pace for just 15 minutes burned three times as many calories as volunteers who sat or stood still.

The researchers calculated that if volunteers walked for an hour, they would burn 130 more calories than if they sat or stood at their desks. 

While you probably won't be walking around the office for an hour, balancing your laptop in one hand and typing with the other, "Brief periods of walking can add up to make a big difference," said Seth Creasy, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the new study. 

Previous research shows that even a 20-minute walking break can reduce your risk of early death by 30 percent. Walking helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And taking any kind of break at work makes you more productive and boosts your mood. Walking breaks are seriously magical.

How can you incorporate more walking breaks into your daily routine? Try setting reminders on your phone to get up and move around, or ask your boss to make your next meeting a walking one. Walk your way to a better life. 

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