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How to Burn Calories While Working At My Desk

Did you know that sitting at your desk all day long can have detrimental effects on your health? Most people who have desk jobs sit way more hours at work than the number of hours advised, leading to a ton of chronic health problems such as weight gain, back pain, neck strain, poor posture, and even worse conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. 

Aside from those health conditions, sitting for too long can also contribute to having a sedentary lifestyle. We don’t have much movement in the office due to needing to finish tasks, and once the work day is over, we’re already exhausted to the point that we just want to sit and lay around when we get home. Hitting the gym or doing any kind of workout is the last thing on our minds. 

The combination of sitting too long and having a lack of physical inactivity can lead to earning extra calories, more than the amount that one would like. Fret not though, for we have some good news. There’s still hope to shed all those additional calories even while you’re working at your desk. Here’s how you can do it.

How Many Calories Do I Burn a Day With a Desk Job?

By having a desk job, it’s very likely that you spend more than 6 hours stuck to your seat as you do your tasks. Surprisingly, even if you’re just stuck in your office chair, it’s estimated that you approximately burn 80 to 102 calories for each hour you sit at your desk. While that may not sound too bad, it still depends on the person and how fast their basal metabolic rate is.

If you have a slow metabolism, then being seated for hours at work won’t exactly help you burn extra calories. This is why encouraging more movement in your day to day and doing any physical activity can help you better when it comes to calorie burn.

Will I Burn More Calories if I Stand at My Desk?

More and more people these days have started to switch between sitting and standing while working. Due to health problems related to sitting, experts encouraged workers to switch to a sit-stand method at the office. This means that for every 1 to 2 hours one sits, 30 minutes to 1 hour should be spent standing. The most ideal way to do this is to alternate between the two positions every 30 to 60 minutes.

That can be difficult to do with a traditional office desk, but one thing that can greatly aid in doing so is an adjustable height standing desk. Recently, a lot of workers have switched out their average office desks for adjustable height desks as this makes the sit-stand method easier to do. Not only does it help in alleviating health risks but it can also help you burn a few more calories.

Yes, you’ve read that right. You can burn more calories when you stand at work than being seated. When you’re seated, you burn the fewest number of calories, but if you’re off your seat and on your soles, you activate the rest of your muscles, leading to a larger amount of calories burned.

How Can I Burn Fat While Sitting at Work?

If you don’t have an adjustable height desk or fancy ergonomic and exercise devices, fret not for there are still ways you can burn a few calories while seated at work. All you need is a bit of extra effort and get several muscles of yours working to do so.

What is the Fastest Way to Burn Calories While Sitting?

It’s important to realize that there is no single way to burn extra calories overnight. It takes more than a little effort, but trust that it’s all worth it in the end when you find yourself no longer suffering from pains and living an overall healthier lifestyle. With that said, here are a couple of ways to burn calories while seated at work.

Maintain Good Posture

Slouching while seated at your desk requires little to no effort from your muscles. But also, it can lead to a lot of aches and pains. Not to mention, you might also develop poor posture. Sitting up straight with your shoulders back and your abs tight works a number of muscles in the core, back, and shoulders. This can help in burning a few more calories.

Replace Your Office Chair

This one goes hand in hand with having a good posture. If you want to challenge yourself and engage your core more, you can switch out your desk chair for a stability ball or a fitness ball instead. Aside from improving your posture, sitting on a fitness ball can also help you improve your balance 

Stretch Your Body

Sitting at your desk for long periods can leave your muscles feeling cramped and sore. One wonderful way to relieve all that muscle tension is to do a couple of stretches. Straighten your back, raise your arms over your head, and clasp your hands together. Lean to the left until you feel a gentle stretch on your right side. Hold for about 10 to 20 seconds, and then repeat on the right.

Another stretch that you can do is a seated cat-cow. This short exercise takes its name from the cat-cow yoga pose. To do this, keep your hands over your head after your side stretches. Upon exhaling, imagine hollowing out your belly as you curve forward. Think of making something like a “C” shape with your body. On an inhale, reverse your position with your back arching and your chest expanding. Let your deep breaths guide you when doing this.

Standing Desk Push-Ups

Any kind of desk will actually work well with this exercise. Get up and face your desk and then place your hands shoulder-width apart against the edge. Take a step back, about three feet away from your table. Keep your back and legs in a straight line as you do your push-ups. Lower down until your chest almost touches the edge, push yourself back up to the starting position, and repeat.

Calf Raises

If you strength train, then you know that standing calf raises are an excellent exercise to tone the lower legs and shed calories at the same time. You can also do calf raises even when seated. Simply start by straightening your back and your feet flat on the floor. Next, raise your heels off the floor as far as possible. 

Next, Lower your heels and then repeat about 10 to 15 times. You can also press your hands against your knees to create resistance as you lift them. It should be noted though that if you’re wearing high heels, you should take them off before doing this exercise.

Seated Jumping Jacks

One way to get your heart rate pumping and to get a quick boost of energy is by doing jumping jacks. Not everyone has a jump rope or a huge workspace in the office to do so, but worry not for you can still do this workout even when seated. 

Start by positioning yourself on the edge of your chair with your knees bent and toes touching in front of you. Slightly stretch your arms out to the sides. Open your legs quickly and flex your feet, and then land on your heels. Stretch your arms over your head simultaneously with your feet movements. Return to the first position and begin again, repeating it for about 30 times.

Tap Your Feet

If you have a private office, it’s probably easier to just get up and dance to add movement to your day; however, most office workers don’t have the luxury. Instead, you can tap your soles in your seat. Begin by tapping your toes 25 times as you keep your heel on the floor. Next, tap your foot side to side 25 times with the use of your heel as your pivot point. You can do this with one foot at a time or alternate feet.

Walk Around

Getting up from your chair to stroll around the office for a quick break is one sure way to get rid of excess calories and incorporate more movement in your day. Taking a walk to a different floor, or up the stairs, or maybe even taking a brisk walk outside of the office for a bit can help work your leg muscles, clear your mind, decrease stress, and relieve tension from your body. 

If you’re really tied to your chair, you can still do a short workout of pretending to walk. To do this, straighten yourself up in your seat. As you keep your knees bent, lift your right leg up, slowly lower it, lift your left leg up, and then lower it. Repeat as many times as you’d like. After your pretend walk, slowly extend each leg for about 10 times.

Reduce Stress

This is probably easier said than done, but organizing your workspace and taking the time to plan ahead can alleviate your stress. Not many are aware, but stress can increase your weight and frazzles you throughout the day. By having a tidy workspace, an organized schedule, a lineup of tasks, these little things may help to settle your mind. Set a cup of green tea next to you as well as it contains antioxidants that can ease your mind and reduce calories too. 

These are just some of the few things that you can do to reduce calories even while you’re at work and pushing a deadline. Share these notes with your co-workers so that all of you can take a step towards a better lifestyle. Do take note though that while these can help, it’s recommended to have a workout routine that can keep you physically active and fit in your week. Your body and overall health will thank you for it. 

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.