If you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17.1% of Americans are on a diet at any given time. However, if you’re not reaching your weight loss goals or find the weight you’ve recently lost creeping back on, one surprising habit could be standing between you and success.
A study published on May 24 in the journal Obesity observed 4,305 individuals who’d lost an average of 54.5 pounds using the WW program (formerly Weight Watchers) and kept it off for an average of 3.3 years, maintaining an average post-weight loss BMI of 27.6 kg/m2. These individuals were compared to a group of weight-stable individuals with obesity with an average BMI of 38.9 kg/m2.
In their findings, the Cal Poly researchers who conducted the study found that the individuals who maintained their weight loss spent an average of three fewer hours seated over the course of their day, and spent an hour less sitting down to play video games or use a computer outside of work hours than the study subjects with obesity.
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The study’s authors discovered that, despite the individuals with obesity spending more time outside of work using a computer or playing video games, there was not a significant difference in the number of television sets or other devices that might encourage sedentary behaviors in the homes of members of the two groups.
What the study’s authors did find, however, was that individuals who maintained their weight loss expended an average of 1,835 calories through physical activity each week, while obese study subjects whose weight was stable expended an average of 785 physical activity-related calories on a weekly basis.
“This study does not imply that simply standing more rather than sitting will contribute to weight loss maintenance but may suggest that less sitting that results in more movement is what is key to weight loss maintenance,” John M. Jakicic, Ph.D., director of the Healthy Lifestyle Institute and Physical Activity & Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, who was not part of the study’s research team, said in a statement issued by Cal Poly.
His recommendation, given the findings? “Sit less and move more.”
For more, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Sit Too Much Every Day, Says Science.