Standing instead of sitting for six hours a day could help people lose weight over the long term, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The study examined whether standing burns more calories than sitting in adults in the first systematic review and meta-analysis (combining data from various studies) to evaluate the difference. The researchers analyzed 46 studies with 1,184 participants. Participants were on average 33 years old; 60 percent were men, and the average weight was 143.3 pounds.

The researchers found that standing burned 0.15 calories per minute more than sitting. By substituting standing for sitting for six hours a day, a 143.3-pound adult would expend an extra 54 calories in six hours. Assuming no increase in food intake, that would equate to 5.5 pounds per year.

“For the person who sits for 12 hours a day, cutting sitting time to half would give great benefits,” said senior author Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez. The authors acknowledge that more research is needed to show whether there are long-term health implications of standing for long periods.

Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), a concept developed by Mayo Clinic researchers, focuses on the calories a person burns while doing normal daily activities. “Standing is one of components of NEAT, and the results of our study support this theory,” Lopez-Jimenez said.

The researchers found that calories burned by standing are about twice as high in men as in women. This likely reflects the effect of greater muscle mass in men on the amount of calories burned, because calories burned are proportional to the muscle mass activated while standing, researchers found.