It's no secret that as a nation we are struggling with an ever-expanding waistline — but, this piece of information may surprise you: Just standing up may be as important as exercise, according to a group of scientists at the University of Missouri, ABC news reported.

The researchers found, in most cases, hitting the gym alone isn't enough to take off the extra weight. The big problem: We sit too much. Researchers say when we sit, the enzymes that are responsible for burning fat just shut down.

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It turns out that sitting for hours at a time, as so many of us do in these days of computers, electronic games and 24-hour television, attacks the body in ways that have not been well understood.

"It was hard to believe at first," said Marc Hamilton, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia and leader of the research team, told ABC. He noted the team didn't expect to find a strong signal when they began researching what happens to fat when seated. But the effect, both in laboratory animals and humans, turned out to be huge.