Representational Image

Sitting for long hours is not good for the health but many modern-day jobs require you to glue to your computers for a minimum of eight hours a day. Due to this, the body misses the minimal physical movements it requires at regular intervals apart from not burning any calories.

However, a new study suggests that one can burn calories even when we are sitting at our desk for prolonged hours. Researchers found that continuously moving while sitting at a desk may boost metabolic rate more than sitting or standing at a desk.

Craig Horswill, clinical associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago said: "Exercise is a good way to counteract the negative effects of sitting, but just incorporating physical activity into one part of our day may not be enough to overcome the damage caused by prolonged sitting and an otherwise sedentary lifestyle."

Spending more than eight hours at workstations on a daily basis is already harming them. So, Horswill and his colleagues compared the metabolic rate produced by three workstations with different working arrangements -- seated at a desk, standing and working at a desk and sitting at a desk equipped with a device. The device stimulates leg movement by enabling the feet to swing, twist or teeter.

Researchers collected metabolic rate and heart rate data of all the participants during three progressive stages: seated, seated with the device and standing, 15 minutes for each stage.

They found that the modest movement while seated elevated the metabolic rate more than sitting and standing.

"These results suggest that non-exercise active thermogenesis, which we call NEAT, can increase movement and calorie burning, and may have the potential to impact health," said Horswill.

He added: "We expected to see the metabolic rate increase with each progressive stage, but instead found that metabolic rates from movement while seated were either equal to or higher than rates while standing."

Horswill says that the study needs to be further validated, but he believes: "This is more evidence that NEAT, something everyone can do throughout the day may be an important strategy for improving health, and even reducing early death."

The findings are published in WORK, a journal affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association.