Eight ways to burn calories without leaving your desk

Sitting has been getting some bad press lately — it's known to increase your risk of heart attack and death, virtually stops your metabolism, and decreases blood flow to the legs, to name just a few. Yet many of us are tied to a desk day after day, and in the battle between needing to get exercise and needing to keep our job, the job usually wins out.

woman sitting at a desk

It doesn't have to be an either/or, though. Here are some exercises you can do to get your blood moving and burn extra calories while at your desk. As an added benefit, incorporating a bit of movement into your workday will increase your work productivity and make your feel healthier and happier. Enjoy!

1. Run in place while seated. Tap the floor with your feet (you might want to take your shoes off first if the sound is going to disrupt coworkers). Move quickly and keep going for at least 30 seconds at a time, then rest and repeat a few more times.

2. Lift your arms. Raise your arms over your head and back down like you're lifting a weight straight up. Move quickly and repeat over and over for at least 30 seconds. If you actually have small hand weights, even better! Slow down your movements and focus on a controlled movement up and down. Do this several times throughout the workday.

3. Work those abs! Scoot back from your desk a few feet, then extend your legs out straight in front of you. Raise your arms and slowly bend at the waist until your hands are as near your feet as you can get them without pain. Slowly return to your starting position and repeat several times.

4. Lift your knees. Sitting so that your back is supported, grab hold of one leg at the knee and hamstring with both hands and bend the leg up toward your chest. Release it down to the ground, then repeat. After five repetitions, switch legs.

5. Pretend you're chopping wood. Grasp your hands together near one shoulder, then slowly “chop” down toward the opposite thigh. Repeat on the other side, doing 10 repetitions on each side.

6. Get an exercise ball. Switching out your desk chair for an exercise ball is a great way to work out your core without thinking about it. All day you're having to maintain your balance on top of it, and at the end of the day, you'll feel the difference in your core. Bonus: Using an exercise ball forces you to maintain better posture as well.

7. Stand up while talking on the phone. Better yet, walk in place. If possible, you might even look into getting a standing workstation, finding a high counter around the office where you can do some of your work, or even purchasing a treadmill desk that allows you to walk very slowly but continually throughout the day.

8. Fidget. It may sound silly (and drive nearby coworkers crazy), but fidgeting throughout the day can actually add up to significant calorie burn. So don't try to fight it when you feel yourself tapping your fingers, jiggling your leg or tapping your foot in time to the radio.

Little bits of movement can add up to big calorie deficits at the end of the day, and any amount of exercise is better than none. Keep movement on your mind while you're at work, and chances are good that you'll find many more ways to burn calories while doing your job.

About the Author:  Patty Englebaugh founded ErgoStoreOnline.com in 1993. She has 19 years of experience installing ergonomic office furniture and computer accessories that create healthy work environments in home and corporate offices as well as in the healthcare, education, government, and business sectors. Call her today (Mon-Fri 8-6pm EST) for one-on-one support for your ergonomic needs: (877) 971-0151.

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  1. Fidgeting At Your Desk

  2. Pranitha11:19 AM

    Forearm Exercise While Sitting

  3. Expert11:20 AM

    Slip ice water all day long. Eight 16- ounce glasses of ice water raises your metabolism (the rate which your body burns calories) and burns an extra 100 calories.

  4. Pavani11:23 AM

    I think, moving is the best way to support losing calories and pimping up the own body…

  5. Abhilasha11:24 AM

    I like these ideas. Almost too simple

  6. Champa11:25 AM

    Great post!

  7. Anonymous11:26 AM

    "It burns up to 50 calories if you laugh for 10 to 15 minutes per day,"

  8. Anonymous11:27 AM

    Chew gum
    It burns a few calories — and it keeps you from mindlessly grazing


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