Healthy Byte: Lifting is Better than Cardio After 60

Originally Poster HERE

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For many of us, life gets better — easier, even — as we get older. We get more comfortable and confident in our own skin. But unfortunately, some things, like losing weight, don’t get easier with age. In reality, dropping unwanted pounds can feel harder than ever.

Whether it’s a busy schedule or stiff joints that’s holding you back, you might be less inspired to go to the gym. Those 10 pounds you gained in your 40s can become an extra 20 pounds in your 50s and 60s. But experts agree that it’s important to focus on achieving your healthy weight at any age.

“Excess fat is something we shouldn’t ignore no matter how old we are,” says Robert Huizenga, MD, an internist and associate professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. The good news is that while losing weight in your 60s is much harder, women actually won’t find it more difficult to lose weight than men. Dr. Huizenga says, “There has actually been no difference in the amount or rate of weight loss in individuals of either sex who are over 60 years old versus those who are younger.”

Michael Spitzer, a personal trainer and author of Fitness at 40, 50, 60 and Beyond, agrees, adding that “the true path to weight control and fitness after age 60 isn’t that much different than it is at any other stage of life.” However, there are certain factors that need special consideration.

What to consider before you start your weight loss journey

For starters, it’s important more than ever to actually talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen. “Medical problems, such as heart disease and metabolic disease, become more common after age 60, so it’s much more important to have a medical checkup before attempting a fat loss plan,” says Dr. Huizenga. Then there’s the fact that over the age of 60, your oxygen intake may be reduced by as much as one-third of what it was when you were 25. This might make it a tougher time to take deep breaths while you’re exercising. That’s why it’s crucial to ease into a new exercise routine.

This is also the decade when your hips, knees, and other key joints are more likely to develop arthritis, which means that your go-to running or aerobic workouts may need to be swapped for swimming and/or gentle walking plans.

With that said, there are steps you can take to make your weight loss journey more manageable. Here are expert-approved tips that’ll help you clean up your diet, lose excess weight, and set you up for better health in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.

1. Focus on fat loss, not weight loss.

During this decade, you want to focus on building more muscle instead of decreasing the number on the scale. “At advanced ages, you cannot afford to lose muscle, organ tissue, or bone mass,” says Dr. Huizenga. Lifting weights is important as you get older because you lose a percentage of muscle every year. This affects your metabolism and ability to get rid of body fat. With age, your bones also become weaker, especially if you’re post-menopausal, which is due to lower estrogen levels — the hormones responsible for maintaining bone mass. But by creating pressure on your joints through weight-bearing exercises, you can actually help build stronger, healthier bones. So instead of focusing on what the scale says, turn your energy and attention into adopting a new strength training routine, which brings us to our next point.

2. Add strength training to your workout routine.

Muscle loss equals a slower metabolism, which explains why you’re more likely to put on — and hold on to — those extra pounds. But lifting weights can help rev up your metabolism by building muscle mass.

If you don’t have a consistent weight training regimen, you’ll want to start slowly. It’s also worth working with a personal trainer who provide a personalized strength training plan. By easing into a new plan, it will give your body time to adapt without placing too much strain on your muscles or joints and help you avoid injury, says Dr. Huizenga.

But don’t get too comfortable with an easy resistance-training program. It’s important to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift. “It’s critical that significant resistance exercise be incorporated into any fat loss plan over age 60,” he adds. Once you can do 10 to 12 reps with a five-pound dumbbell and feel like you could keep going, it’s time to upgrade to an eight-pound weight, and so forth. “You know you’re lifting the right amount of weight if you can just barely make it to the end of your repetitions before needing to rest,” he says.

3. Stay hydrated.

Of course, this is a tip for anyone trying to lose weight and boost her overall health, but it’s especially important as we get older. That’s because as we age, the hypothalamus, which controls our hunger and thirst, becomes desensitized, dulling our thirst signals, says Matt Essex, founder of ActiveRx Aging Centers in Arizona. “Plus, many older people avoid drinking water so they can avoid running to the bathroom constantly,” adds Christen Cooper, RD, a dietitian in Pleasantville, NY. “This is especially true for men with prostate issues and women with bladder limitations.”

Since water is key for digestion and metabolism, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. Our bodies can easily mistake thirst for hunger, which causes us to eat more than we actually need. Consider purchasing a water bottle with a timeline tracker to remind you when you need to take swigs throughout the day.

4. Load up on protein.

If ever there was a time to focus on getting enough lean protein, it’s now. “There is some evidence that older adults need more protein,” says Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, senior director of worldwide nutrition education and training at Herbalife. Aim to get roughly 30 grams of protein at each meal, and more if you tend to crave carb-rich foods.

“In my practice, I notice that dietary patterns tend to shift somewhat with age, and as people get older, the calories that were once spent on lean protein might now be spent on carbohydrates or fats,” says Bowerman. Not only does adequate protein help support muscle growth and repair, but it’s also more satiating than carbs and fats, meaning you’ll be less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks, Bowerman says.

5. Be patient.

While it’s just as possible to reach your healthy weight in your 60s as it is when you were in your 20s, it might take a little longer. You might not be able to push yourself as hard as you’d like to during your workouts, leading to a lower-calorie burn. Or, you may not be as strong as you once were, prompting you to lift lighter weights (also lowering that calorie-burn number you see on your fitness tracker). “Keep your focus on the healthy behaviors you’re adopting in order to achieve your goal, rather than your frustration if it’s not happening right away,” says Bowerman. If you stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan, your weight will take care of itself over time.

6. Stretch often.

The more flexible you are, the more you will enjoy any physical activity you do and the less chance you’ll have of injury, says Rami Aboumahadi, a certified personal trainer based in Florida. And at 60 years old, a less active lifestyle and an increase in aches and pains can make your flexibility plummet. Consider taking a yoga class or simply adding a few stretches to your day, particularly after you’ve taken a walk or warmed up your muscles in some other way.

7. Think positive.

If you’re constantly thinking, “gaining weight is part of the aging process” or “everybody my age is overweight” on repeat, it’s time for new weight-loss mantras, says Cooper. “It’s important to avoid slipping into a mindset that will prevent you from losing weight,” he says. Find a community of people who want to get fit and stay that way so that you surround yourself with as much support as possible. Perhaps you can find a walking group, take a group fitness class, or talk a few friends into joining you for water aerobics at the local pool. “Too often, what limits us from achieving our weight-loss goals is all psychological,” says Cooper.

Healthy Byte: Nutrition Choices & Alzheimer

Originally Posted HERE

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Max Lugavere was in denial when he saw his mother, Kathy, who was just 56-years-old, slowly slipping away.

It was 2009 that he first noticed she was moving slower, becoming stiff and would lose her thought in the middle of a conversation.

“She was the kind of person anybody would describe as a sharp-witted, high performer,” Max tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, “and it suddenly seemed like she had the brain of an 80-year-old.”

He and two younger brothers brushed it off because “she was so young” and didn’t think anything could be seriously wrong until they took a family trip to Miami.

“She couldn’t tell us what year it was, and she started to cry. It was like a record screeching to a halt, and I knew something was seriously wrong,” says Max, now 37, who immediately became her biggest advocate and went to dozens of doctors appointments with her.

Kathy was given the news in 2011 that they had dreaded from the beginning: she was diagnosed with the rare Lewy Body Dementia.

“I was watching the person who I loved more than anything in the world start to decline,” says Max, a Los Angeles-based science and health journalist. “I just became insanely motivated­ — just fixated on trying to figure out why.”

After her death in December 2018, his “entire world turned upside down,” but he continued to try to understand why and how why Kathy got dementia so young.

Max Lugavere with his mother Kathy | Courtesy Max Lugavere

Max Lugavere with his mother Kathy | Courtesy Max Lugavere

Discovering that Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, often begins decades before the first symptoms show, he learned there are ways to help prevent it from ever happening.

“We can eat in a way that supplies our brain with the raw materials it requires to create healthy new brain cells, which we now know the adult brain can do up until death,” says Max, who published in March 2018 his bestselling book Genius Foods (written with Paul Grewal, M.D.). “I discovered that diet is incredibly important and so is your lifestyle.”

Foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein and dark leafy greens are crucial and others agree with his findings.

“He is intelligently helping us understand that there are things you can do with diet and lifestyle that slow cognitive decline,” says Dr. Ellen Vora, a holistic psychiatrist. “These diet changes certainly help with dementia, but they’re also going to help with many other things like heart disease, cancer prevention and mental health.”

He’s since launched a podcast called The Genius Life and is working on a second book with the same title coming out in 2020.

“Losing my mom was the biggest tragedy of my life,” says Lugavere, “but I’ve been compelled since day one to turn it into something that makes it a little less painful. I want to help as many people as I possibly can.”

Healthy Byte: Twelve Tips to Stop Over Eating

Originally Posted HERE

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We all have a different threshold for how much is too much, and the definition of overeating can vary depending on the situation. For instance, what you eat for dinner one day may be a normal amount for you, but it can seem like overkill if you also had a very large lunch or did a lot of snacking between meals. In general, “overeating can be defined as consuming more food than the body can handle comfortably in one sitting, or consuming more calories than the body needs to function optimally on a daily basis,” says Eudene Harry, M.D., physician and author of three books including Be Iconic. “This can leave us feeling bloated with a multitude of digestive symptoms and lead to weight gain.”

“I call overeating being “regretfull” — a combo of regret and full,” says Susan Albers, Psy.D., psychologist, best-selling author of eight books, including the forthcoming Hanger Management. “We tend to feel a lot of regret when we eat past the point of being satisfied.” There are number of physical and emotional factors that can lead us to that point. Being tired, stressed, hangry, unfocused and even eating certain foods can cause us to overeat. The trick is to resolve those issues and adopt strategies to avoid overeating on the regular. Thankfully, with the help of Dr. Harry, Albers, and Ilana Muhlstein, M.S., R.D.N., registered dietitian nutritionist and creator of the 2B Mindset, we’ve got plenty of tricks up our sleeve for you to use.

Tips on to stop overeating:

  • Clean out your cupboards. First things first: We all have those foods that we can get enough of, whether that’s chips, pasta, candy, or ice cream. “Don’t keep food around your house or office that leads to overeating,” says Muhlstein. “Out of sight, out of mind, is one of the easiest ways to control this issue.
  • Get more shuteye. Sleep improves nearly every system in our body, and when we don’t get enough, our body doesn’t function efficiently. “Studies consistently show that when a person sleeps less than the recommended 7 to 8 hours per night, she may be more likely to feel hungrier the next day and crave and consume higher calorie and carbohydrate-rich foods,” says Mulstein.
  • Stay ahead of hanger. You never want to let yourself get so hungry that you reach for whatever’s nearby. “Keep high-protein snacks handy,” says Albers. “Cheese sticks, turkey cold cuts rolled up, hummus, roasted chickpeas, nuts, energy balls and protein smoothies are some of my go-tos.” Along those same lines, Muhlstein also recommends Greek yogurts and snackable veggies like baby carrots and cut up cucumbers.
  • Check in with yourself. “When you feel yourself start to get hungry, ask yourself how hungry are you, really?” advises Albers. “Whether you’re a little bit hungry, moderately hungry, or very hungry, this is going to let you pick the right eating intervention — just a bite, a snack, or a meal.”
  • Drink water. “We commonly confuse hunger for thirst,” says Muhlstein. “To put it in perspective, we can’t live three days without water, but we can live three weeks without food.” She advises always drinking 16 ounces of water before you take your first bite of food. “It will drastically improve your ability to control your hunger,” she says. Carry a water bottle with you to make sure you’re hydrated even when you’re on-the-go.
  • Eat mindfully. “Turn off the television, put down your phone and really focus on your food,” says Dr. Harry. “Eating mindfully allows you to appreciate all the complexities and nuances of the food in front of you.” Not only will you be more aware of how much you’re consuming, she says, you’ll often notice a flavor explosion in the first few bites of your meal that gradually decreases and becomes less satisfying.
  • Include protein and fiber in your meal. These two nutrients may help you feel fuller faster, according to research. They also enable your body to better regulate swings in your glucose levels that may come with eating carbohydrates. Dr. Harry suggests working with your physician or nutritionist to assess the right amount of protein for your needs.
  • Use a smaller plate. Some studies have found we eat more when our plates are larger, while others suggest this isn’t always the case — but it can’t hurt to test it out for yourself. “Having a smaller plate that is filled to the rim can be a visual feast for the eyes,” says Dr. Harry.
  • Make your first bite a veggie. “If you’re at a party and choose the sliced veggies and dip before the cheese and crackers, you may be more likely to make smarter choices throughout the night,” says Muhlstein. It’s definitely worth a try!
  • Eat slowly. “When we slow down and chew food thoroughly, it starts the digestive process that leads to nutrients being released in the stomach,” says Dr. Harry. “This tells the stomach to make and release hormones that let the brain know it’s full so it can turn off your hunger signal. Some research estimates that this process can take 20 minutes.” For these reasons, Albers recommends cutting your bites into smaller pieces, adding an extra three chews to each bite and consciously eating at a slower pace than the people you’re with.
  • Smile between bites. No, seriously. “This brief pause gives you just a moment to ask yourself if you really want the next bite or if you should stop right there,” says Albers. “Also, a smile triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters, which helps reduce emotional eating.”
  • Plan an intermission. Take a break halfway through your meal to gauge your hunger level. “Even a small pause gives your food time to digest and register in your brain that you have eaten,” Albers points out. Everything you can do to help your brain accurately judge how much you’ve consumed can help you avoid overeating.

Remember, beating yourself up after we have an episode of overeating is not helpful. “Drop the inner critic and get curious about your overeating,” suggests Albers. “Ask yourself a series of questions like what lead to the overeating right now? What would I do differently next time? What are some steps that would have prevented the overeating?” This turns the situation into a teachable moment that you can use to avoid overeating in the future.

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Healthy Byte: Confidence through Fitness

Originally Posted HERE

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Have you ever felt unathletic or out of place at the gym? So has celebrity trainer Massy Arias, and she’s tired of the exclusive nature of the fitness industry. “If you have a body, you’re an athlete,” Arias tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Fitness changed my life and shaped me as a person. I want to help women find their confidence through movement and through fitness.”

Arias strives to celebrate and promote inclusion, both in the fitness industry and as a beauty ambassador for CoverGirl. “I’m trying to change how women look at their bodies and find confidence in themselves, no matter what their body type,” Arias says. “The more awareness we bring to the space of beauty and diversity, the more pressure we’re putting on brands to actually include and start making products that really help all of us.”

For Arias, embracing fitness was a life-or-death situation. She used it to battle crippling depression that left her weak and malnourished. Now, she uses it to inspire her 2.5 million Instagram followers to turn their lives around, too.

But even though fitness saved her life, Arias knows the industry is imperfect, lacks diverse representation, and tends to leave out certain groups of people and perpetuate a harmful body ideal. So she’s working to change it.

As an individual with a large platform, she feels it is her responsibility to counter these stereotypes. Arias focuses on showing her followers that a healthy lifestyle fits for people of different shapes, sizes, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. She offers fitness and nutrition tips that work — like her healthier pho recipe and equipment-free exercises.

“I think it’s important in my industry to be diverse. I’m a Latina, if my parents would have put me in to play any sport, I think I would have been an amazing athlete,” Arias says. “I will say with confidence that in the Latina community, girls do ‘girl things’ and boys do ‘boys things.’ That’s not how I’m going to raise my daughter.”

Arias also believes diversity and body inclusivity go hand in hand, and she wants people to know that curves can be healthy, too.

“You don’t need to be lean in order to have health. You don’t need to have my muscles. I lift heavy and I have a certain nutrition, and therefore I look this way,” Arias says. “But then you have someone who’s a yogi, someone who may not be muscular and is still healthy, and you have someone with more curves, and that’s still healthy, someone who’s taking care of themselves and may carry more body fat than I do.”

By working to break down stereotypes, Arias has made strides in her own self-love journey as an Afro-Latina. “For so many years, I was pressing my hair, dying it and doing all these crazy things. And I never had the courage to say, you know what, I’m just going to chop it,” says Arias. “I think I’m in a platform right now where I have so many opportunities coming my way, that when I gave birth to my daughter and I saw this little rich chocolate brown girl with curly hair, it had me question myself and my character. The one person she needs to relate to is me, and [cutting my hair] is something I did for her and for my community.”

Ultimately, Arias wants to inspire others to embrace their uniqueness with confidence and happiness. “We’re like ice cream. We come in so many flavors and so many colors — why not embrace us? There’s not a specific mold of what beauty is and who can be beautiful,” she says. “As cliché as it sounds, we need to be comfortable being us, and when we exude confidence, even if you put a ton of makeup on, your personality is gonna make you more beautiful. You can be really pretty and have all this makeup on, but that’s not what makes you beautiful.”

 

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Healthy Byte: Gaining Fat or Muscle?

Originally Posted HERE

Most of us have gotten the memo: strength training is a must for women who want to improve their health, feel fit and strong, and lose weight. But lifting weights can be an intimidating thing if you’re new to the game. When they first start strength training regularly, some women say they gain weight or feel themselves getting bigger, which can be a turn-off. If that sounds familiar, don’t go anywhere. We chatted with two experts who will explain exactly why that happens and what you can do to prevent it.

“As you demand more from your muscles with weight training, it develops microscopic tears in your muscle,” Joel Freeman, Beachbody Super Trainer, told POPSUGAR. “Then your muscle [is] going to regrow bigger. So with that, it’s going to be heavier.”

“Even though we know muscle weighs more than fat, we see the number creeping up and you definitely freak out.”

 This helps to explain why muscle has a greater density than fat, so if you compare the same volume of muscle and fat, muscle would likely weigh more because it takes up less space than an equal mass of fat. If you went from doing zero weightlifting to doing a few sessions a week, the scale will show an increase in weight, because even though your body is becoming leaner, you’re putting on extra muscle where fat used to be. “Even though we know muscle [is denser] than fat, we see the number creeping up and you definitely freak out,” Joel said. “Even my wife deals with it, and she’s been in fitness her whole life. She’s a former gymnast and lifts heavy. Acording to her BMI, she’s borderline overweight, but she is anything but — it’s muscle!”

Don’t let this discourage you! It’s all part of the process. As you build up all that muscle, you’re also revving up your metabolism, which will help you burn more fat in the long run.

“If you’re getting too big, it has nothing to do with your training in the gym. It’s what you eat.”

Magnus Lygdback, a celebrity trainer who has worked with Alicia Vikander, Gal Gadot, and Katy Perry, also chimed in on this topic. “If you’re getting too big, it has nothing to do with your training in the gym,” he told POPSUGAR. “It’s what you eat.”

It’s that simple. If you feel like your body is getting bigger, rather than leaner, as you’re lifting weights, Magnus insists this has nothing to do with your workouts. It’s all about your diet. Easier said than done, we know, because the bottom line is, you get hungrier when you do more strength training.

“It is really easy to be hungry,” Joel confirmed. “That’s how your body reacts when you’re strength training, so it really comes down to making sure that your macros are measured out. Today it’s so easy to measure your macros using apps.”

He recommends following the very simple formula of eating 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 30 percent healthy fats. This should keep everything balanced and help prevent any extreme weight gain.

“It is really easy to be hungry. That’s how your body reacts when you’re strength training.”

 “Food is a big part of life, and it should be enjoyed,” Magnus told POPSUGAR. “I hate the ‘cheat day.’ Seventeen out of 20 meals should be on point, and you should enjoy life three out of 20. So it’s up to you when you want to do those three meals out of 20, but that’s my philosophy.” And it seemed to work for Alicia, because she looks lean AF in the trailer for Tomb Raider.
To sum it all up, if you feel like you’re not getting leaner from strength training, don’t panic. You will inevitably see a little weight gain on the scale, but eventually you will start slimming down. And if you don’t, look closely at what you’re eating, because it’s so easy to overeat when you’re lifting weights. But sticking to your personal macros and following Magnus’s 17/20 rule will certainly get you to where you want to be.

 

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Healthy Byte: Running on Empty

Originally Posted HERE

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There are two types of exercisers in this world: those who must eat breakfastbefore a sweat sesh, and those that swear it’s better to exercise sans fuel. So who’s right?

To help clear the air, Kristin Speaker, Ph.D, researcher and weight loss coach at Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Aurora, Colorado, weighed in on the topic. Here’s what you need to know.

Does Fasted Cardio Really Burn More Fat?
In short, yes. Studies have found that exercising in a fasted state can burn nearly 20 percent more fat when compared to sweating it out post-nosh. (Ready to shape up, pronto? Check out Women’s Health’s Ignite routine created by Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger.)

“The fuel your body uses to burn energy is dependent on a host of factors, the first being whether or not you’ve just eaten,” says Speaker. “Your body likes to burn the fuel that you’ve eaten first. So if you don’t have any fuel because you didn’t eat (meaning you’re in a fasted state), then your body turns to what it has stored away and works to burn that.”

But it all depends on what kind of workout you’re doing. “In general, the easier the exercise, the more actual fat you’re going to burn during the workout,” she says. For example, if you go for a 30-minute walk and cover two miles at a slow, steady pace, then Speaker says you’ll torch approximately 200 calories. If you’ve been fasting, your body will likely burn body fat, because the rate of energy production (a.k.a. how hard you were working) was really low and fat was easily accessible.

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On the flip side, if you go for a tough run, then your body starts to burn carbs instead of just fat. “When you go higher in intensity, your body can’t use fat fast enough, so it burns some fat and some carbohydrates,” says Speaker.

That doesn’t mean slow and steady wins, though. Remember that your body only burns more fat during the actual workout when you slow your roll. Numerous studies have shown that high-intensity interval training stokes your metabolism and keeps burning fat long after your routine is done, so depending on how hard you worked, tough sessions may win out after you hit the showers.

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But What if You’ve Got No Energy?
It’s clear that busting out cardio before breakfast can be beneficial. But what if you feel like you don’t have enough energy to exercise before you’ve eaten? Well, that’s nonsense, according to Speaker. “You have plenty of energy in your muscle and fat stores to give your body what it needs to exercise,” she says. “Your liver provides glucose for your body, and you don’t really start tapping into that until you deplete the glycogen stores in your muscles. Depending on how fed you were the day before and how trained you are, you have about an hour-and-a-half to two hours before you even dip into your liver glucose.”

In other words, you’re good to do about an hour of cardio, max, while you’re fasted, says Speaker.

Of course, if you’re upping the intensity or going any longer than that, it’s important to start fueling, perhaps with energy chews or gels. But refueling post-workout is what’s really important, so your muscles can start repairing the tiny tears they endure during exercise, says Speaker. One cool upside: Fasting primes your body for the nutrients you’re about to give it. “You’ll better absorb protein, and your body is going to know right where to put it because you’ve used energy, creating space for new energy to go in,” she says. “So protein and carbohydrates will go back into the muscles to help them refuel, as opposed to going into fat stores.”

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When It’s an Issue to Sweat Before You Eat
If you’re generally in good health, there aren’t too many downsides to consider so long as you’re doing cardio (it’s a whole different ballgame for strength training), says Speaker. The main issue: Those on a low-carb diet, like Paleo diet followers, may struggle to bust out their best cardio workout because their livers don’t have a lot of fuel readily available, and it’s likely that they’re not fully recovering in between workouts because they’re not refueling their glycogen stores, she explains. But still, that’s not a serious health threat. “You’ll just hit a wall and your body will signal you to stop,” says Speaker.

Your appetite post-workout may be affected, too. One study found that when runners hit the treadmill for an hour without eating first, they were more hungry than those who chowed down ahead of exercise.

It All Comes Down to Personal Preference

Working out in a fasted state is a big mental game, says Speaker. “If someone believes they’re going to pass out if they haven’t eaten and they really think they have to get something down before they work out, then I’m going to suggest that they eat,” she says. “It’s not that they physically need the food—they psychologically do. And that’s just as valid.”

 

 

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Healthy Byte: The Hype of Fads

With the rise of standing desks, office workers hope to brush off the health risks linked to prolonged sitting, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and early death. But they might do well to walk calories off instead, a new study suggests.

In one of the few studies to carefully count the calories people burn while sitting at a desk, standing, or taking a leisurely stroll, researchers found little difference between being plopped down or upright. Standing for an hour might burn off an extra nine calories or so, about the amount in a single gummy bear. Slow walking, on the other hand, incinerated 2.4 to 2.7-fold more calories than standing or sitting, respectively. If office workers fit in an hour of strolling throughout each day—tallying trips to the bathroom, walks to the printer, or strides on a treadmill desk—they could easily burn through an extra 130 calories. That’s a little more than what previous research suggests could help people keep pounds off, the authors report in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

“If you’re looking for weight control or just solely at the energy expenditure, standing isn’t that much more beneficial than sitting,” Seth Creasy, an exercise physiologist at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study, told Ars. Of course, calorie burning isn’t the only reason people might choose a standing desk. Being upright could be beneficial for productivity or posture, Creasy said. However, more research is needed to know if those benefits are real because the studies that have been done so far have come up with mixed or inconclusive results.

For energy use, though, the literature is getting pretty clear. In past studies looking into the differences between standing and sitting, researchers found small changes in calorie burningsimilar to those Creasy and his colleagues found. With their new study, they tried to nail those calories down for good and look at more than one single activity at a time. No one gets to the office and sits, stands, or walks for eight hours straight, Creasy explained. People switch positions, take breaks, and move around, he said.

To see if there were any effects of those shifts, Creasy and colleagues set up an experiment with activity combinations. With a total of 74 healthy volunteers, the researchers randomly assigned 18 to sit at a desk with a computer for 15 minutes then stand without fidgeting for 15 minutes. Another 18 participants sat and watched television for 15 minutes and then walked. Twenty started with slow walking—at a self-selected speed of around two and half miles per hour—and then sat and watched TV. And the last 18 stood and then sat at a desk with a computer.

During each 30-minute activity combination, the researchers had the participants fitted with face masks, which basically measured their exhaust. This allowed the researchers to precisely calculate how many calories they were burning.

The researchers were curious if the order of activities changed how much energy participants used overall. For instance, perhaps starting with a walk would rev up calorie burning in subsequent sitting. But it turns out the order doesn’t matter. There was a tiny uptick, but nothing statistically or clinically significant, Creasy said. In the other combinations, the order didn’t matter either.

In general, 15 minutes of walking burned an average of 55.9 calories, sitting with a computer burned 19.63 calories, sitting and watching TV burned 18.66 calories, and standing burned 21.92 calories. There was no statistical significance between the sitting activities and standing, the researchers noted. And even if it does result in a few extra calories burned, it’s unclear if that could result in any measurable health benefit.

Raised questions

Like all studies, this one has some limitations. The study participants were healthy and mostly lean, unlike the general population and perhaps the people most interested in using a standing desk to help lose weight. But Creasy said he expects the general findings to hold up in people who are obese. The study also had people stand or sit as still as they could, so it might not capture any significant variations resulting from fidgeting or shifting around in either scenario.

The study also doesn’t address a fundamental question in the sit vs. stand debate: are the negative health effects linked to prolonged sitting caused by the sitting itself or a lack of activity? Like prolonged sitting, a lack of exercise is also linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. And earlier research has found that those who do sit for long periods but are also activedon’t face the same health risks. But other research has suggested that sitting alone can be bad, causing discomfort and poor circulation. Still, standing for long periods of time may also cause problems such as enlarged veins.

On this bigger question, “the jury is still out,” Creasy said. Researchers are looking into whether exercise can override our sedentary lifestyles, plus whether standing desks benefit productivity, comfort, and other health issues.

A few small studies have come out showing that standing desks can boost productivity, but a few others have shown that they don’t. Others are inconclusive. For instance, in a recent study on the productivity of call center workers who were assigned either standing or sitting desks, researchers found that the standers were as much as 53 percent more productive than sitters. But the study lacked baseline data of how productive each group was to start with, so the results are not conclusive. An interesting find, however, was that in surveys, the standing workers did report less back pain and discomfort than their seated counterparts.

As researchers work out which desk setup might be best, Creasy points out that moving is always a good idea. He suggests getting creative with figuring out ways to add intermittent bouts of walking into your daily routine, such as moving the printer farther down the hall or having walking meetings. He points out that benefits can be seen with just casual, slow walking. This isn’t exercise, he emphasizes.