If you are a student, then you know that sitting takes up a large portion of your day. If you'd like to combat a sedentary lifestyle with exercises you can do in class, there are some options. But be aware that to lose weight, you may need to get up and get active elsewhere.
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The Mayo Clinic explains that sitting uses much less energy than standing and moving. Sitting for extended periods has been linked to obesity and related conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels and excess abdominal fat. All of these symptoms contribute to metabolic syndrome and can put you at a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The best thing you can do for your health and weight loss during class time is to get up and move around every once in a while — although you'll have to use discretion so as not to disturb your classmates. Getting up and leaving the classroom to walk to a water fountain, for example, is an excellent way to add some extra movement into your day.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Fat Loss
How to Lose Weight Healthily
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends losing weight at a rate of about 1 to 2 pounds per week for the best chance of success. A healthy diet, as well as exercise, is essential for lasting changes.
Everybody's body and metabolism are different, meaning weight loss will happen at a different rate for everyone. It is worth knowing that weight loss is often not linear, meaning you could have weeks where you lose a few pounds and stretches where you don't lose anything at all. The best thing you can do is to stick to it because consistency is the key.
You can use the American Council on Exercise's daily caloric needs estimate calculator to help determine your approximate calorie needs. Creating a caloric deficit of around 500 calories per day can help you to lose weight, keeping in mind that the rate of weight loss is different for everyone.
It is crucial to know that men should never eat below 1,500 calories a day, and women should never consume below 1,200 calories a day without the supervision of a medical professional. Remember that food quality is essential, so choosing to use your calories for healthy, highly nutritious foods is best.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week that gets your heart rate going. It's hard to get your heart rate up while sitting in class, no matter what type of activity you try to do. That said, keeping your body moving, even fidgeting, can add up and contribute to an overall weight loss plan.
Exercises to Do in the Classroom
A part of your daily energy expenditure, called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT for short, contributes significantly to your ability to lose weight. A June 2018 article published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry concluded that NEAT can substantially affect your calorie burn during the day. Moreover, low levels of NEAT are linked to obesity.
Along with taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes, simply moving your legs in your chair and fidgeting can help to burn calories. Michigan State University Extension recommends leg lifts while sitting at your desk and stresses that even small exercises can make a big difference for your health, including boosting mood, reducing stress and increasing your energy, productivity and creativity.
Another option is to use an under-the-desk elliptical if you have permission and space to do so. These machines can help you burn calories while sitting, which can contribute to a weight loss plan.
Additional Calorie Burn During School
To add more movement into your day, the university health services at the University of California, Berkeley, recommends parking further away from class, using your lunch hour to walk or exercise, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and building more movement into your day in between, before and after class. You can also search for extracurricular activities and team sports.
According to Matt Thibault, a wellness coordinator for Via Christi Health, in his YouTube video "Desk Exercises," there are some beneficial stretches and exercises you can perform at your desk. Use discretion when choosing desk-bound activities if you are in class so as not to disturb your classmates.
- Mayo Clinic: "What Are the Risks of Sitting Too Much?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Losing Weight"
- American Council on Exercise: "Daily Caloric Needs Estimate Calculator"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry: "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): A Component of Total Daily Energy Expenditure"
- Michigan State University Extension: "Exercise at Work: Is It Possible and What Are the Benefits?"
- University of California, Berkeley: "50 Tips to Move More at Work"
- YouTube: "Desk Exercises"