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What Can I Do to Burn Calories While Sitting at My Desk at Work?

by
author image Tammie Painter
Based in Portland, Ore., Tammie Painter has been writing garden, fitness, science and travel articles since 2008. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as "Herb Companion" and "Northwest Travel" and she is the author of six books. Painter earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Portland State University.
What Can I Do to Burn Calories While Sitting at My Desk at Work?
Maintaining good posture helps you burn calories at your desk. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

If your job entails long hours behind a desk, you may notice your waistline gaining inches. Sitting for long periods slows your metabolism, which can lead to weight gain. Although you could buy treadmill desks and desk risers so you can stand while you work, these items can be costly. Luckily, you can do other things at your desk to burn calories without breaking your budget.

Tap it Out

Unless you have a private office, you won't be able to perform a dance routine at work, but you can tap your feet. Start by tapping your toes 25 times as you keep your heel on the floor. Then, tap your foot side to side 25 times using your heel as a pivot point. You can do one foot at a time or alternate feet. This short exercise doesn't burn a huge number of calories, but if you do it several times a day, the calorie burn will rack up. In addition to shedding a few calories, tapping your toes helps strengthen9 the muscles at the front of your shins.

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Raise Those Calves

If you strength train, you know that standing calf raises are an excellent exercise for toning your legs and burning a few calories. Although your calves won't have to work as hard when you are sitting, you can do them in your office chair. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Then, raise your heels off the floor as far as possible. Lower your heels and repeat 10 to 15 times. To make this more challenging and burn a few more calories, press your hands against your knees to create resistance as you lift your heels. If you're wearing high heels, you should take them off before doing this exercise.

Maintain Your Posture

Slouching while seated at your desk requires little effort from your muscles. Sitting up straight with your shoulders back and your abs tight, however, works several muscles in your torso, back and shoulders. This extra effort will burn a few more calories and also keep your back healthy. As often as possible, suck in your abs and keep them tight for 60 seconds or more to tone your midsection. If possible, switch out your desk chair for a stability ball, which will help you burn more calories as you work to balance and maintain good posture while sitting on it.

Pretend to Walk

Getting up from your desk as often as possible is the best way to burn calories at work. Stand while on the phone, take the stairs to a restroom on a different floor or walk over to talk to a colleague instead of emailing or phoning him. If you truly are tied to your desk, you can pretend to walk to burn a few calories. Sit up straight. While keeping your knees bent, lift your right leg up, lower it, lift your left leg up, lower it and then repeat as many times as you like. If you tighten your buns as you "walk," you'll burn more calories and tone your backside. After your walk, slowly extend each leg 10 times to work your quadriceps.

Stretch Your Body

Sitting at a desk all day can leave you cramped and sore. Stretching is a wonderful way to relieve this tension and burn a small number of calories. Sit up straight and then raise your arms over your head. Clasp your hands together and lean to the left until you feel a gentle stretch along your right side. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and then stretch to the right. After these side stretches, keep your hands over your head. Imagine hollowing out your belly as you curve forward. Think of making a "C" shape with your body. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds and enjoy the stretch along your back as you say goodbye to a few more calories.

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