Whenever I returned from a medical meeting my physician father always asked "what did you learn?" This question lingers. I'm just back from the summit meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Orlando last week. This is one of my few precious scientific affiliations. What did I learn? I ponder the answer. My response to Dad's question ; I certainly recognize that I've picked up a few fragments of new knowledge, new information that helps broaden my IQ. But I always recognize that what I learn is not a substantial issue. "Who did I meet?, this is a more direct and relevant question, because I invariably meet old friends at these meetings. These are my happy buddies whose friendship I have been nurturing all these decades. These reunions always gratify, and nice hugs abound.
But now a new friend shows up. He is very significant to me in that I have followed his work for several years. His name is John Jakicic from the University of Pittsburgh. His research features topics of great interest to me, specifically physical activity, diet, obesity, and aging . He publishes extensively and is a regular member of the advisory commissions in Washington that provide best practice information. His topic in Orlando was "positioning lifestyle and physical activity as effective treatments for obesity." His focus in Orlando concerned recent work that he has accumulated using activity monitors to demonstrate the health advantage of standing and walking over sitting.
I have regularly referred to Dr. Levine of the Mayo Clinic who started the popular standing desk interest. Sitting seems to be a risk factor for everything. John Jakicic agrees that sitting is pernicious. But by using activity monitors he shows that standing is only slightly more advantageous in terms of generating actual energy expenditure. They extend their advisories in saying "standing up is necessary but insufficient." When you walk for 15 minutes after sitting at a computer or television the energy expenditure expressed as kilocalories is three times the standard when sitting or standing. This simple demonstration certainly makes much sense. Movement as walking is certainly more advantageous than sitting.
John's work in his laboratory shows that the effort to stand is simply marginally more important than sitting, but the big lift comes from the subsequent walking. It is important to hear this message from my new friend. It keeps resounding in every part of our existences.