We can’t help you find a way to quit your job and pursue a more active career path, but we can offer some helpful tips and tricks that will maximize your time so you can move as much as possible no matter how busy your work day might be. Think of these tips as exercise extras; little things you can do every day and that if performed as habits over time, will add up to big changes in your overall health and fitness.
Lean muscle is metabolically active tissue, which means your body has to expend energy in order to maintain it. By increasing your muscle mass through strength training and eating a diet rich in protein, you’ll naturally increase your metabolism and easily burn more calories every day.
In addition to keeping you healthily hydrated, increasing your water intake will force you to get up and away from your desk a few times a day. “It’s easy to get 'busy' or forget to get up and move around,” says Amanda Russell, a personal trainer and the creator of the Fit Strong and Sexy training regimen. “To keep yourself in check without having to think about it, start your day with 1 to 2 liters of water and then keep some more at your desk. Drink up all day long. It will force you to use the bathroom more frequently, thus making you have to get up from your desk and take a walk. And while you're up, throw in a few stretches. You’ll come back feeling better and more productive.”
That’s Internet speak for “exercise at your desk.” There are plenty of easy, equipment-free exercises you can do while you’re working the day away at your desk. Consider investing in some fitness-friendly office accessories. (The “Under Desk Cycle” is perfect for in-office exercisers who wish to be a bit more discreet.)
Alright fine, this one is obvious and we bet you’ve heard it a million times before. But be honest, how many times a week do you actually take walks during your work day? Instead of eating during your "lunch" break, try chowing down at your desk while you get some work done and then when you’re ready for a real break go outside and go for a walk.
This tip can be stacked in the same category as taking a walk. We know you’ve heard it too many times before, but we still think it’s worth repeating because taking the elevator is just way too easy. We challenge you to make a commitment to taking a few extra steps every day by opting for the stairs any time you have the choice between stepping up and standing still. (This applies on the way down, too!)
What exactly does this mean? Almost anything! Choose the farthest parking spot, get off a subway stop early or take a loop around your building before heading into the office. The possibilities here are almost endless. All you have to do is pay attention and seize the opportunity any time there’s a chance for you to move more.
If you’re like me, you totally intend to get up and walk around every 60 minutes or so over the course of the day. But then work takes over, you get sucked into a time intensive task and before you know it three hours have passed since you’ve moved anything but your fast-typing fingers. An easy way to break this habit is by setting a timer for yourself. Set the alarm on your phone or an alert on your desktop calendar for 60 to 90 minute intervals and make a promise to stand up and move around, even if it’s just to stretch, every time it goes off.
Russell also recommends standing up and pacing around any time you’re talking on the phone. In the same sense, if you’re able to access your emails on a mobile device, why not do the same while working on your inbox? Just be sure you choose a safe place to walk where you won’t bump into anyone or anything.
Maybe we sound like your mom, but practicing good posture will force you to engage the muscles in your core, shoulders and back and as a result, lead to an increase in your energy expenditure. In fact, according to one study from researchers at the University of Sydney, it could increase your calorie burn by about 17% when compared to sitting in a slouched position. The study found that fidgeting around while seated can increase your calorie burn, too.
One study from the Vanderbilt University Medical center found that laughing can help you burn a few extra calories by raising your heart rate by about 10 to 20 percent. The amount of calories that this might save you is pretty trivial, but still, every little bit helps. Plus, you should never turn down an opportunity to lighten up a bit and relieve a little stress.
Instead of stressing about finding large blocks of time for exercise, try breaking your workouts up into smaller sessions. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, “One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise." Not only will this strategy help you find more time for exercise, but it will also help break up prolonged periods of sitting more frequently. Russell recommends taking breaks for quick burst of cardio. “Go to the stairwell and run up and down a few times,” she says.