Your job… the buzzkill that ruins a perfectly healthy diet and hindrance blocking your 10,000 daily step count. It should be no surprise that the average calorie-counter falls off the healthy eating bandwagon whilst mooching around the office. If only your caloric intake was placed on hold during working hours… ‘yes Debbie from accounting, I would love another slice of your birthday cake’. Alas, those calories still count! But fear not, here are 5 simple ways to turn the office into your own personal gym.
1. Take the Stairs 2 at a time
This is a great way to burn extra calories on your way into work – additionally, this method helps to build strength in three key muscle-groups that are often neglected whilst sitting at your desk all day, the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals. Build this in to your daily routine and bulletproof your knees – the quadriceps and hamstrings are both major players in knee health, so consider this activity as preventative rehabilitation for injuries you now, may never get.
Okay, so if you don’t cross a flight of stairs on your daily commute, then get adventurous, lunge up the tube escalator or even on the way to the photocopier.
2. Stand up whilst you work
You burn approx. 50-100 extra calories if you ditch the chair in favour of standing. Your body requires more muscles to contract in order to maintain this upright position – the increase in muscular activity directly translates to an increase in energy expenditure. With this principal in mind, perhaps consider pacing around your desk to further increase your calorie expenditure.
The benefits of standing don’t end there. Recent studies have reported that standing at your desk reduces tiredness and boosts work-related performance. But if you can’t manage spending 6 hours on your feet everyday then at least jump out of you chair every hour, as workers who stood for longer periods had fewer musculoskeletal problems.
3. Transform your office space into a yoga studio
Okay, this one’s a bit of a stretch, “badum tish”. It won’t burn dozens of calories but it will correct that terrible posture you’ve assumed whilst reading this post. A multitude of medical issues such as lower-back-pain, sciatica and migraines can all be attributed to spending hours on end sitting in the same position, starring at the same screen.
Just like standing, it’s recommended that you flex your body into its many designed ranges every hour or so. So, follow this simple routine:
Tuck your chin, then move your neck into 6 positions (rotate left and then right, look to the floor, then to the ceiling, bend you ear to one shoulder and repeat on the other) hold each of these for 20-30 seconds.
Keep those feet planted and place each hand on the opposite shoulder – sit up straight and rotate your torso as far round to one side as possible, then repeat for the opposite side.
Whilst still seated – flex your spine forward and try to touch the floor between your legs, if this is too easy then reach under your chair with both hands.
Bring one foot over to the other knee – this cross-legged position will stretch your glutes, if it doesn’t then simple lean forward with your torso to increase the stretch.
Finally, straighten one leg and reach down to touch your toes.
Congratulations – you just stretched your body from head to foot! And all from the comfort of your office chair. Plus, you burnt a few extra calories whilst doing it.
4. Turn down the thermostat
This one might sound a tad extreme, but cold temperatures will cause your muscles to shiver in an effort to keep you warm. This autonomic process can increase your bodies metabolic rate by as much as 5 times. Luckily, thermogenesis doesn’t even require artic conditions – temperatures as mild as 17C (64F) are defined as cold exposure. You won’t be the most popular in the office, mind you!
5. Squat whilst you wait
Use your wasted time wisely. Do some body-weight squats whilst making a cup of tea; do some more whilst you heat up your lunch in the microwave. If you squat, using just your body-weight, for only 10 combined minutes during the day then you will burn around 150 calories – surely that’s worth the discomfort? Just like the stairwell lunges, squats can also fix and/or prevent injuries. When performed with good technique (simple tips below) this simple exercise can help many aches and pains in your knees, hips and lower back.
Place your feet shoulder width apart – slightly point out your toes.
Cross each arm over the opposite shoulder – this is used for counter balance.
Bend your knees and squat down so your hips are roughly in line with your knees.
Make sure your back remains straight and your heels are firmly fixed to the floor.
Now stand up, maintaining the same form as the decent.
Repeat as much as possible. You’ll thank me later!