Sedentary jobs, like ones that involve sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen for five days a week, aren't just tedious - they can be hazardous to your health. Consistently sitting for long periods of time every day has been linked to a variety of health problems, including obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and even cancer. Fortunately, certain handy techniques allow you to get your blood pumping and calories burning while still getting your work done. See Step 1 below to get started burning calories at work.
Burning Calories Away from Your Desk
1Walk while you discuss business. Rather than sitting in a stuffy office or conference room to tackle important business conversations, when you get the chance, go for a walk outside. Unless there's inclement weather, this practice is so much more stimulating and satisfying than a typical yawn-inducing sit-down meeting that it's a wonder it's not more common. Walking while you talk gives you a great opportunity to burn calories without having to abandon your work. You can walk while you touch base, meet about relevant work issues, or discuss plans for the future. Walking may even re-energize you, giving you more energy to tackle these tasks than you normally would have!
2Make your commute an opportunity to get exercise. One of the absolute best ways to add exercise to your daily work routine and start burning calories is to treat your commute as an exciting chance to exercise each day, rather than something you have to endure to get to work. Use any method you can to avoid sitting in your car during morning traffic. Walk or bike to work if you live close enough to do so. If you don't, look for public transit nodes that are within biking or walking distance, then use these to complete your journey to work.
- Over time, avoiding car use can actually save you a great deal of money. Biking and walking is nearly expense-free - the only things you'll need to spend money on are your shoes and/or any replacement bike parts. Public transit tickets can be a greater expense, but, compared to weekly or bi-weekly trips to the gas station (to say nothing of car maintenance costs), are often the cheaper bet.
3Start a mini workout club at the office. Any workout is easier when you have people by your side to support and encourage you, so, if you can, consider starting a workout group at your office with some of your coworkers. This practice is actually already fairly common within smaller companies or start-ups. As part of your routine, you might, for instance, designate 15 minutes before lunch every day for mini-workouts focusing on rotating muscle groups - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you could focus on arms and have "push-up club", whereas Tuesday and Thursday you could focus on abs and have "abs club". Alternatively, you might agree to play a round of pick-up basketball after work every day. The choices are endless, limited only by the tastes of you and your coworkers.
- If your boss allows you to, you may want to try advertising for your workout club in break areas, during lunches, etc.
4Go out during your lunch break. Depending on the culture of your office, your lunch break may be up to an hour long. If you have time, use your break as an opportunity for a quick aerobic exercise session. Try briskly walking, jogging, or biking to your destination if you can. If you're getting take-out food, you might even try going for a walk as you eat.
5Walk quickly at work. Make the most of every opportunity you have to get up and move! When you have to walk around the office, try to move quickly. You don't have to sprint around the office and risk running into someone to reap the benefits of picking up your pace - merely walking at a brisker pace than normal can give you a calorie-burning boost. You may be surprised what a workout it is to constantly walk quickly, especially if you have a job that frequently requires you to stay on your feet all day.
6Plan business travel to fit your fitness needs. Though business trips can have you moving about the country (or even the world), they can sometimes restrict your ability to actually move. Countless hours in planes, buses, limos, trains, and the like can take their toll on your calorie-burning efforts. Worse, many important business meetings can take place over rich, decadent, calorie-dense meals. So, if you get the chance, plan ahead. Bring a form of exercise (like a hand gripper or exercise bands) with you so that you can do it in the hotel or in your seat as you travel. Better still, try to book a hotel that has a workout room or gym available to guests. When you travel, you'll be away from your creature comforts, but this is no excuse to neglect your body.
7Weight train to boost your metabolism so you burn more calories at work. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does (73 more calories per kilogram per day, to be precise), so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be. Think of every muscle cell that you gain like a little factory that constantly burns calories for you, even while you sleep, and revs up when you exercise. Building muscle through weightlifting, strength-training exercises, and the like outside of work is a great way to guarantee that you burn as many calories as you can at work, even on the rare occasions when you have to remain motionless.
8Reach for the caffeine, pass on the sugar and cream. There is some evidence that supports the theory that caffeine can help you lose weight, though the link is by no means concrete. Caffeine may be able to increase the number of calories you burn by stimulating the process of thermogenesis - a way in which your body generates heat and energy. Caffeine may also suppress your appetite, leading you to eat less food than you normally would. However, the most useful aspect of caffeine may be simply that it can give you the energy to focus - for instance, on walking just a little further at your treadmill or on squeezing your hand gripper just one more time.
- In any case, don't rely too heavily on caffeine as an exercise or weight loss aid. It's no substitute for actual exercise and, if you consume too much, any calorie-burning effects will be overpowered by the fact that you'll be a jittery, nervous wreck.
Burning Calories at Your Desk
1Create (or buy) a standing desk. The best way to burn calories while you work at a desk is to eliminate the factors that make desk work such a sedentary activity, namely, motionless sitting. Rather than sitting down all day, try migrating to a nearby table, counter, or filing cabinet, and, if it is tall enough, set up your laptop there and work while standing. If it's too short, try stacking a few sturdy boxes on top of each other to support your laptop at a higher level. Standing burns more calories than sitting - the precise difference varies from person to person, but is generally about 50 calories per hour.
- In itself, 50 calories isn't much, but over time even this tiny extra effort can produce results. Let's assume you stand for 4 hours each day at the office - that's 200 calories per day. Over a 5 day work week, that's 1,000 calories. This is high enough that, all other factors being equal, you might even start to lose weight, albeit at a gradual rate, as it takes about 3,500 calories gained or lost for your body to lose or gain 1 pound of fat.
2Work at a treadmill. Even better for your physical health than a standing desk is a treadmill desk or walking desk. Working at a treadmill allows you to experience mild exercise as you work - in addition to burning calories, you may find that walking as you work even boosts your energy and motivation levels. Walking desks are commercially available, though they can be somewhat pricey. If you have access to a normal treadmill, a more affordable option is to buy (or make, or improvise) a special stand that allows you to prop a laptop on the sloped surface of most treadmills.
- You don't have to jog or even break a sweat to get the benefits of working at a treadmill, but the faster you go, the more calories you'll burn.
3Invest in a balance ball chair. Believe it or not, it's possible to start burning calories and toning your midsection simply by changing the type of chair you use. If your office won't provide one for you, consider buying your own balance ball chair. As you sit in this special type of chair, your body has to subtly flex its core (torso) muscles to keep you upright and balanced. Over time, you will feel a gentle "burn" in your midsection, signifying that you're using your muscles (and burning calories).
- As an added feature, balance ball chairs allow you to gently bounce up and down while sitting, expending a little extra energy and burning more calories in the process.
4Use a hand gripper, small dumbbell, or exercise band. If you're unable to get any cardio or core exercise at your desk, you still have the option of burning calories with your upper body. A variety of options exist for engaging your upper body while you work - some of the most common are squeezable hand grip devices, small dumbbells, exercise bands, and the like. These options are cheap, small and light. They offer the perfect opportunity for exercise when you have to read something either on your screen or on paper, because, as you read, you probably won't need to use your hands very often. Use this opportunity to squeeze your gripper, do bicep curls, or do an exercise with your exercise band. The more frequently (and vigorously) you're able to exercise, the more calories you'll burn.
5Fidget. Some research has shown that even very low-grade activity (tapping feet and fingers, twirling hair, gesturing while speaking, etc.) can help burn extra calories and increase overall fitness.In fact, one study found that, if obese individuals were to adopt the daily activity habits of lean people, including a proclivity for fidgeting, they could stand to burn around 300 extra calories per day. All other factors being equal, this translates into up to about 30 pounds lost per year!
- Fidgeting is one of several calorie-burning behaviors in classified as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), or any movement that isn't intended as exercise. Depending on how often (and vigorously) you increase NEAT, you can conceivably burn an extra 100-150 calories an hour.
- Always consult with your physician before starting any type of physical activity to ensure you are healthy enough to participate.
Sources and Citations
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.org/sitting/expert-answers/faq-20058005
- ↑ http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/make-most-your-metabolism
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.org/caffeine/expert-answers/faq-20058459
- ↑ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24532996
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.org/calories/art-20048065
- ↑ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/9362136/Fidgeting-could-prolong-your-life.html
- ↑ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18223609