Looking to transform your sedentary lifestyle to a healthy and active one? For people who spend most of their waking hours sitting at a desk each work day, regular exercise and healthy eating pose even more of a challenge. Check out these 11 clever ways to boost activity levels, eat healthier, and burn calories at the office:
Take the Stairs
Yep, even if your office is just on the second floor, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Active body movement multiple times a day will help get your heart rate up, boost blood flow, and promote alertness. While you’re at it, consider walking or biking to the office if possible, and if not, park further away in the parking lot so you’re incorporating minutes of energetic walking time into your daily commute.
Sitting for extended periods of time can put added compression on the spine, tugging at important back, hip and leg muscles and resulting in achy inflammation. A sore back can then lead to unhealthy behaviors like skipping workouts and poor eating choices. If you’re spending hours a day sitting at a desk, make sure you get up every 20 or 30 minutes for a quick walk or stretch.
It’s easy to confuse hunger for thirst, especially when you’re stressed out or struggling to meet a tight deadline at work. Keep a reusable water bottle full and at your desk throughout the day to remember to drink water regularly – it can help fight off dehydration headaches, prevent midday fatigue, and help you feel full. Plus, getting up to regularly refill it encourages you to get more steps in and avoid sitting for too long.
Score a leg workout with a mini pedal exerciser that sits right under your desk. Small, portable and similar to a stationary bike, pedal exercisers are easy on the joints and offer a low-impact exercise you can complete while typing, or even on a conference call. Pedal exercisers strengthens legs and feet, collapses for easy storage, and even displays activity metrics for you to keep track of your progress.
Sit On A Stability Ball
Ditch the old swivel office chair for an exercise or stability ball that promotes balance, better posture, and core strength. While the scientific community is still out on a verdict of whether extended sitting on stability balls conclusively helps you lose weight, it is believed that they help with posture and caloric burn. Because you are constantly making tiny, possibly imperceptible, adjustments to remain balanced and steady while working on your stability ball, you are engaging groups of muscles regularly you wouldn’t otherwise.
Make Your Own Lunch
So your company has a great perk of buying your team lunch every day. By the time you’ve skipped breakfast and sat through 3 painstaking meetings, you’re going to be clamoring for anything and everything when it comes to ordering lunch or popping out to grab a bite. Packing your lunch in the morning when you are not overcome with cravings helps you make healthier choices, control the calories you consume, and prioritize whole, healthy foods instead of processed ones.
Skip the Junk Food
“Yay, someone brought in donuts!” “Oh it’s brownie Tuesday!” Office workplaces always seemed to be packed with sugary, processed snacks (hello vending machines!) that seem so accessible and convenient. Skip the junk food and stock up on your own healthy snacks that won’t cause blood sugar spikes and energy deflation. Think protein-rich nuts with dried fruit, fresh veggies with hummus, or whole grain tortilla chips with guacamole.
Tackle Desk Exercises
A variety of simple, unnoticeable exercises that help tone abs, calves, and more can be done right from the comfort of your desk.
- Contract and release glute muscles as you sit, do 10 reps at a time.
- Sitting down (with plenty of legroom), extend one leg at a time and bring to hip level, feeling the burn in the top of your thigh (your quadricep). Do 10 – 15 reps at a time.
- Energize your abs by contracting and releasing them regularly, sucking your belly in towards your spine and holding for 10 seconds at a time.
Practice Deep Breathing
Emotionally overeating at your desk? A natural response to stress and emotional situations, eating can be a dangerous coping mechanism. One way to suppress emotionally-driven cravings is to fight stress in the first place. Induce natural stress relief and deliver an oxygen boost to your body with at least 10 seconds of deep breathing. Belly breathe in through your mouth to fill your belly up, and breathe out slowly, repeat 10 times. Or breathe in deeply through your nose to feel your entire chest expand, and slowly release through your mouth, repeat 10 times.
Get Your Smell On
Introduce subtle but helpful aromas to your workspace with a small aroma diffuser or a scented lotion. Lavender and bergamot aromas can aid with stress relief and helping you feeling calm and relaxed, peppermint has been shown to reduce feelings of indigestion and upset stomach, and grapefruit is believed to stimulate endocrine glands to aid in metabolism and appetite suppression.
Stand at Your Desk
Standing desks have trended in the office space in the past handful of years largely because of their physical benefits. Not only do you practice better posture when you’re standing to work, but you can burn more calories, tone muscles, and even increase blood circulation around the body. Go a step further with a treadmill desk that lets you walk and work at the same time, probably best for ‘work from home’ employees.
When it comes to investing in a healthier, happier you at work, small, manageable steps, from drinking more water to taking the stairs can quickly add up to a big difference. Download helpful apps like MyFitnessPal or invest in wearable fitness trackers like FitBit to turn your new healthy habits into trackable progress towards your weight management goals.