In an interesting twist to the conventional strategy for maintaining and losing weight, Dr. James Levine of The Mayo Clinic, found that sitting for hours on end (as many of us do almost every day) robs our bodies of basic biochemical efficiency, resulting in thousands less calories being burned each day.

The New York Times sums up the results nicely:

“This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go silent,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDLcholesterol to fall.”

That made me want to stand up to read the rest of the article.  Which, as it turns out, is exactly what we should do to combat the harmful effects of on overly sedentary lifestyle.  In addition to your normal exercise regime, engage in as many micro-movements as possible.  Calories are a measurement of the amount of heat given off when a food breaks down.   By combining little activities such as standing up during a phone call, you can burn an additional 1200 to 2400 calories every day!  A whole new reason to get up and jump for joy.

Check out Dr. Levine’s complete Q&A.