The Easiest Fat-Busting Strategy That You’re Probably Not Using

You’ve probably heard or read news articles during the past couple of years about how excessive sitting is bad for your health.

Scientists are increasingly warning that sitting for prolonged periods – even if you also exercise regularly – could be bad for your health. And it doesn’t matter where the sitting takes place – at the office, at school, in the car or before a computer or TV – just the overall number of hours it occurs.

It’s frustrating to hear. Even if you bust your butt at the gym five days a week, “it may not be enough to counteract the effects of too much sitting during the rest of the day.” Our bodies don’t like sitting, so they shut down.

Her health is at risk if she has a desk job.

What do you mean “shut down”?

As this article at Science Daily puts it:

Physiologists analyzing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes found that the act of sitting shuts down the circulation of a fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase.

When you’re active, lipase helps your muscles absorb fat in your bloodstream. But when you’re sitting on your bum? Lipase shuts down. The fat stays in your bloodstream, clogging your arteries or getting stored in your body as fat.

In one experiment, a person ate the same meal, once while standing, and once while sitting. Researchers then took plasma samples after each meal. Samples after the standing meal are clear because the fat has been absorbed, while those taken after a sit-down meal are cloudy because the fat continues to circulate in the blood.

If you have time, I highly recommend watching the video, because seeing the actual plasma samples is what triggered my aha moment.

What’s a desk jockey to do?

Well, this desk jockey didn’t do much about it for a long time. The standard advice is to get up every hour and move a little, or sit on an exercise ball to strengthen core muscles. These are both good ideas, but I decided I wanted to do something more.

Inspired by Zen Habits, I started standing while working. I’ve only been doing it for a few days now, and I’m not even doing it all day yet.

Instead of jumping right in, I decided to use the one tiny change approach: I stand at least an hour a day during work. I’m already up to half a day.

That's a high-tech filing tote under my keyboard.

I didn’t do anything complicated. I just found a tote box that was about the right height, and I put my monitor and keyboard on top.

I have to admit, it’s taking some adjustment. I had expected that the hardest part would be getting my feet and back used to it. That hasn’t been the case at all.

Instead, I’ve noticed that I’m having a hard time concentrating when I’m on my feet. I have a nagging feeling of not being settled in for real work. I feel like I’m flying in for a second to do something quickly and need to be flying off again. I imagine that this sensation will go away soon enough.

The benefits

Standing has some benefit over sitting simply because you’re burning a few more calories, but for me, the fact that standing keeps lipase humming along is the real reason to celebrate. I love how it’s so simple and so easy. Often in life, “simple” does not equal “easy.” This is one happy exception.

Are you going to give it a try? Leave a comment to let us know the results!


  1. I saw that study too. Very interesting, and it definitely makes a lot of sense. Great solution you found with the box. I do a lot of standing during the day because of the kiddos!

    • I imagine that with the kids, you’re walking (and running!) as least as much as you’re standing. More people are setting up treadmill-style desks so that they can walk and work, but the logistics of that seemed overwhelming to me, so I opted to go for standing. Simplifying is what it made it doable.

  2. I read about the treadmill desks, but I am so not coordinated enough for stuff like that but I work in an office where we have to use a work table to scan items and we’ve ordered a counter height table for all the scanning stations so we can stand up and work at them. It will at least keep us standing for awhile!

    • Nice. I like how the office is supporting efforts to be a little healthier. I’ve heard people tell stories of how their bosses didn’t want them getting up frequently from their desks, so they were encouraged to email instead of walk down the hall to talk to a colleague. Incredibly short-sighted.

  3. What a very good idea! I studied for graduate school standing up with a lap top on top of a very high china buffet, with my little kids playing at my feet. It worked great. Usually now, I’m just such a fidget-er that I never stay in one place very long!

    šŸ™‚ Marion

    • Sounds like a great way to keep the laptop out of their reach, too! šŸ™‚

      Now that I’ve become conscious of standing, I’ve noticed that there are tons of opportunities for me to stand. I’m standing while eating and standing at the campfire while others sit. My feet are really toughening up.

  4. You sure have found a great way to stand more at work. Very cool.
    Very interesting this study.

  5. Wow – I’m impressed! I have heard people say they walk when they talk on the phone. Gotta get creative, I guess.

    • Hmmm, that’d be a great excuse for me to get a bluetooth headset. šŸ™‚ Right now, I’m chained to my computer during phone calls.

  6. I’d love a treadmill desk! My cubical at work has an adjustable keyboard desk piece so sometimes when my back is killing me I raise it all the way up so I can stand & work. I may have to do this more often!

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