Time to get off the couch.

Young woman drinking morning coffee on the balcony
Credit: Getty Images / Westend61

If you're striving to make this new decade your healthiest and happiest yet, you may be kicking off the new year by exercising more, eating more nutritiously, and cutting back on alcohol. But did you know something as simple as standing more each day can enhance your health and help you lose weight?

"There is a strong relationship between how much time a person spends sitting throughout the day and his or her risk of becoming overweight. Conversely, the more a person moves, even if he or she is not formally exercising, the less likely they are to become overweight. Every little bit of energy expended throughout the day adds up," says Julie Cunningham, MPH, RD, a nutritionist based in Hendersonville, North Carolina. "In 2016, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes. The study followed approximately 7,000 people and asked them to report the percentage of the day that they spent sitting down vs. standing both at work and at home. People who reported standing at least a quarter of the time reduced their risk of obesity by about 1/3. People who said that they spent half their time standing reduced their risk of obesity by about 50%." Of course, getting cardiovascular exercise is a key part of maintaining good health, but these findings are certainly pretty appealing to our inner couch potato.

Cunningham adds that using a standing desk can be a wonderful way to mix up your routine to incorporate more daily time spent standing. "A stand-up desk is a great way to get more activity while you work," she says. Even more so than standing, walking regularly, too, is a boon for your health."You can also set a timer on your phone or watch to prompt you to take a walk around the office or around the house every 30 minutes. [And] always take the stairs—they are a great way to add short bursts of cardiovascular activity to your day."

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Karen Z. Berg, a dietitian from Long Island, New York, leaves us with one more practical piece of advice to increase the amount of time we spend standing: "Try to wear comfortable shoes. Often times we prefer to sit because our feet hurt. If you are in comfortable shoes you are more likely to stand more." Southerners, Berg may be up North, but take note and protect your trotters.