New research finds that standing at our desks can help us burn calories while working. Plus, 5 other ways to get in shape at the office.
Take a stand at work.
Standing at your desk could be the secret to getting fit while you’re working, according to a new study from MayoClinic published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Researchers found that standing burned 0.15 calories per minute more than sitting, which equated to 54 calories burnt in six hours of standing time for an adult of about 143 pounds. Over the course of a year, that’s 5.5 pounds slashed, or 22 pounds over four years.
Many of us could benefit from that. Stats show that we spend an average of 12 hours over the course of a given day sitting, and as many as 86% of workers spend all day seated. Excessive sitting has been linked to premature death, decreased productivity, and increased risk of disease.
“When you’re sitting, its relatively easy for your muscles to get lazy. You’re curled up in your seat, your abs don’t have to work,” said Ebenezer Samuel, the fitness editor at Men’s Health Magazine. “To keep you erect, your quads, your hip flexors, your butt — underappreciated muscles,” have to be engaged, which standing achieves, he said.
Besides standing, there are plenty of other tips and tricks we can all practice to stay healthy and burn calories in the office. “Being fit is more than just what you do in a 30- or 45-minute session [at the gym],” said Mohamed Elzomor, a celebrity trainer with exclusive New York members’ club CORE: Club. He recommends “getting off the train two stops early to get in more of a walk, standing up every 15 minutes for 30 seconds” — both of which can be beneficial for your concentration, alertness, and overall wellbeing, he added.
Here are a few other strategies to try:
Look for ways to get moving: “When you have breaks in your day, get up and walk around, whether it’s going to say hello to a colleague, taking the stairs to get exercise,” or other forms of movement if you work in a corporate setting, said private strengthening and conditioning coach Manning Sumner, owner of Legacy Fit gyms in Florida and South Carolina. “A lot of people work in office buildings where colleagues are on different floors — instead of emailing your colleagues, take the stairs… and go communicate.”
Try resistance bands: Use these exercise bands, which typically retail for about $10, to do moves in your seat that can strengthen your calf muscles and work out your hips. Put the band “right above your knee,” and do squats “literally just standing up and sitting back down,” in your chair, Sumner explained. Do 10 reps on the hour every hour.
Find other activities around the office: “While making a drink [like coffee], do 20 calf raises,” said physiotherapist Lyndsay Hurst of Your Pilates Physio. Another idea: “While sitting in your chair, lift both feet up, keep your spine tall to work your abdominals, [and] hold as long as you can.”
Challenge your coworkers: “Competition is a great way to make healthy habits more fun and worthwhile,” said Caitlin Hoff, the health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org. “With all the fitness trackers available now, it is easy to create a ‘steps’ challenge or workout challenge that everyone can participate in. If you have a group of coworkers aiming to lose weight, you might also consider a weight-loss competition.”
To help you stay on track, consider using a smartwatch or smartphone app capable of measuring your steps while at work. One of Samuel’s favorites is Apple’s Health App, which he said “does a really great job.”
Practice simple deep breathing: Too much stress can lead to you packing on the pounds, research says, which is one reason you should practice taking calming, deep breaths at work. “Stay at your desk, take very long deep breaths, and make that become your workout,” Elzomor suggested. Plus, such diaphragmatic breathing engages your core muscles and can strengthen your abs while creating “a strong neurological connection between the muscle and the brain… Five minutes is more than enough. Make it five minutes per hour.”
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