(HealthDay News) — Sitting appears to be linked to increased blood glucose and cholesterol levels, but standing more helps improve all these measures, according to research published online July 31 in the European Heart Journal.

Genevieve Healy, PhD, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland in Herston, Australia, and colleagues gave activity monitors to 782 men and women, aged 36–80, who took part in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study. The monitors kept track of how long each participant spent sitting/lying down, standing, walking, and running. In addition, participants provided blood samples, measurements of their blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI). The monitors were worn 24 hours a day for seven days.

The researchers found that an extra two hours per day spent standing rather than sitting was associated with approximately 2% lower blood glucose levels and 11% lower average triglycerides. More standing time was also associated with an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and a drop in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Replacing two hours a day of sitting time with walking or running was associated with an approximately 11% lower average BMI and an approximately 3-inch decrease in waist circumference. The researchers also found that average blood glucose levels dropped by about 11% and average triglycerides by 14% for every two hours spent walking rather than sitting, while HDL cholesterol levels increased 0.10mmol/L.

“Findings suggested that sitting-reduction strategies targeting increased standing, stepping, or both, may benefit cardiometabolic health,” the authors write. “Standing is a simple alternative to sitting, and requires further examination in prospective and intervention studies.”

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