If you’re like most Americans, you spend nearly half of your time sitting — sitting in the car while driving to and from work, sitting at your desk, sitting while watching TV. Too much sitting is not good for your physical health; it can make you anxious; and make you gain weight. Standing more can prevent the pounds from piling on and even help with weight loss, according to a new study.

The researchers analyzed the results of 46 previous studies that looked at the difference in calories used when standing versus sitting six hours per day. Over 1,100 people were involved in the combined studies with an average age of 33 years. Their average weight was 143 pounds and average BMI was 24, just below the obesity threshold.

Standing more can prevent the pounds from piling on and help with weight loss.

Standing burned 54 more calories per day. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, assuming your food intake stayed the same, that would amount to a weight loss of 5½ pounds in a year or 22 pounds in four years.

In reality, the difference in energy expenditure between sitting and standing is probably even greater since people in the study were standing still and not moving. Movements like shifting weight from one foot to another or taking small steps while standing, even walking to a filing cabinet or trash can, would increase energy expenditure, explained Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, Chief of Preventive Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study.

“It's important to avoid sitting for hours at a time. Standing is a very good first step — no pun intended — to avoid this mindset of sitting interminably without moving. Who knows, it may also prompt some people to do a little more and take up some mild physical activity, which would be even more beneficial,” said Lopez-Jimenez, in a statement.

More standing and less sitting could be added to the list of behavior changes that decrease the risk of long term weight gain; however, more research needs to be done to see if that is an effective and practical strategy and to determine whether prolonged standing could have its own set of health implications.

Clearly, sitting less and standing more is good for your body. While there are times when you can’t control how much sitting you do, you can easily switch from sitting to standing at work with the use of an adjustable standing desk. And instead of sitting on the couch for hours at a time watching TV, take a walk, do a video workout, or buy a ping-pong table and start a family competition. The name of the game is get up and move your body whenever possible.

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.