Let’s face it, when you sit at a desk all day, it is hard to stay healthy and active. In most office jobs, people are afforded the opportunity to get up for a multitude of reasons - to take a bathroom break, refresh coffee, chat with a coworker about the weekend, head to lunch, or to just simply to stretch their legs.
Unfortunately, in the world of 911 dispatch, security monitoring, utility monitoring or in any call center, employees are tied to their desks. Want to get up and walk around the office? What if an emergency call comes in? The truth is, in these 24/7 industries, it is just not that easy!
In a perfect world, we would all be given the option of adding treadmills or bikes to our desks to help keep us moving, but this can't be a reality for everyone. So, here are five easy ways that can help keep you moving and burn some extra calories at your desk!
1. March! - (and the best part is, you don’t need that clumsy tuba from High School) Just stand up and start marching. Sure you may look a little silly at first, but heck, most people are so absorbed in their own world, they won’t even notice! You can burn about 258 calories every hour by marching in place! March for an hour once you get into work, and you have burned off your breakfast!
2. Fidget! - If you’re not up for marching, this is a sure fire way to burn extra calories even while sitting. Have you ever noticed that person in the office that seems exceptionally slim? Upon closer observation, you might notice that they never stop moving! This is a good thing. So, how do you “fidget” you may ask? Try just tapping your feet, bouncing your legs, wiggling your pencil or drumming your fingers (although if you have long nails you may want to skip this one, you want to keep moving, not drive the person next to you crazy). Any movement counts, and the more you move, the more energy your body burns! In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, energy expenditure was 54% higher when study participants fidgeted compared with resting on their backs.
3. No More Chairs! - Whether you have a height adjustable desk or not, kicking away your chair can be a GREAT thing! If you have a sit to stand desk, perfect. Take that chair away and STAND UP! You can burn up to 50 more calories an hour standing vs sitting! If you work an 8 hour shift, and stand up half the time, that’s 200 calories per day! Don’t have the ability to stand? No problem! Swap out your chair for a stability ball. This not only improves your posture, but it will engage your core muscles all day long. And if you want, start bouncing! A slight bounce can burn an addition 150 calories an hour! (And you thought bouncy balls were just for kids).
4. Stretch! - There is a reason that dogs do this every time they get up. Stretching can not only wake you up, it can also reduce stiffness and burn calories! Try doing arm stretches, gentle neck rolls, shrug your shoulders, even stand up and do some quad and leg stretches. If you don’t know where to start, Web MD has 12 great stretches with instructions.
5. Reps! - Ok, if the first four options aren't quite intense enough for you? Bring it on! You are ready for muscle strengthening, calorie burning reps. You know, squats, leg raises, desk push ups. There are sites all over the internet which included exercises to do at your desk. This one from Forbes is one of my personal favorites (Don’t worry, it includes pictures!), and this poster “Death by Desk” from Mashable.com is a great print out for your workspace.
The main thing to remember is, keep it fun and simple! Burning an additional 100 calories a day can lead to a 10lb weight loss in a year! Yes, TEN POUNDS!! You now have no more excuses, you can stay active and burn extra calories at your desk all day long! People may chuckle at first when they see you marching to the beat of your own drum (wah wah…I had to get one cheesy joke in here), but they will realize you are the one making a change for the better! The whole office may get into it. You could even start a competition between co-workers: who can stay the most active? I would love to delve deeper into such competitions. But, I'll save that for another blog.