Why am I typing this standing up?

I was just sitting at my computer next to a box of cookies and thinking “I really need to stop eating these” as I read this article describing the surprisingly scant evidence that exercise affects body weight.

In short, exercise does burn calories but apparently ramps up appetite an equal amount, preventing weight loss. Kind of like Newton’s Third Law (“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”).

Fortunately, the article does offer one helpful suggestion, which I immediately put to use:

“Emerging evidence suggests that ­unlike bouts of moderate-vigorous activity, low-intensity ambulation, standing, etc., may contribute to daily energy expenditure without triggering the caloric compensation effect,” Braun wrote in the American College of Sports Medicine newsletter.

In a completed but unpublished study conducted in his energy-metabolism lab, Braun and his colleagues had a group of volunteers spend an entire day sitting. If they needed to visit the bathroom or any other location, they spun over in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, in a second session, the same volunteers stood all day, “not doing anything in particular,” Braun says, “just standing.” The difference in energy expenditure was remarkable, representing “hundreds of calories,” Braun says, but with no increase among the upright in their blood levels of ghrelin or other appetite hormones. Standing, for both men and women, burned multiple calories but did not ignite hunger. One thing is going to become clear in the coming years, Braun says: if you want to lose weight, you don’t necessarily have to go for a long run. “Just get rid of your chair.”

I read this lose-weight-by-standing idea a few months back and ditched my chair for a few days, but I somehow fell back into my chair habit. I hope I can stay chairless this time.

Posted by James on Monday, April 19, 2010