If you work a desk job, you might be feeling the effects of a slowing metabolism and becoming frustrated by the endless blog posts and magazine articles that make weight loss sound so easy – if you have a personal chef and hours to exercise every day, that is. Or maybe you had a really good routine at the office that got interrupted when your company shifted to remote work. But the good news is that a desk job doesn’t have to be synonymous with constantly increasing pant sizes – even if you’re working from home right now.
You can lose weight and avoid the risks of a sedentary lifestyle without totally overhauling your schedule or quitting your job to become a fitness instructor. The secret is NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. The more moving you do in a day, the more calories you expend. Dr. James Levine illustrates the concept by comparing an office worker who drives to work and watches TV in the evenings to one who cycles to work and spends that same time in the evening painting a bedroom or weeding the garden. Watching TV for six hours burns roughly 30 calories, while activities that aren’t strenuous enough to be considered “exercise” but still require energy would burn between 750 and 1125 calories in that same time period.1
It’s tempting to veg out after a long day at the office, even if that office is also your home. But the great thing about activity is that it positively affects your energy levels to encourage more activity and greater productivity and focus during your workday. All you have to do is get started!
Use these tips to incorporate more movement into your day and lower the potential for mindless snacking. As you begin to make habits of these practices, your daily calorie expenditure will increase – no multi-hour gym session necessary!
1. Walk and talk. Whenever possible, take your meetings and calls on the go. If you don’t need to take notes, go outside for some fresh air. Otherwise, pacing around your house will do just fine. Is happy hour your go-to hangout? Invite a friend to go for a walk after work instead! (Just don’t forget your mask, and follow social distancing protocols.)
2. Stand up. Standing doesn’t burn many more calories than sitting, but it does reduce your risk of health concerns like elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, high cholesterol levels, obesity and visceral fat development, and cardiovascular disease.2
3. Take a break (but skip the Kit Kat). When you’re working on a project or reading material that requires your full attention, it’s easy to lose track of time and accidentally spend hours staring at a computer screen without moving. You might think that long stretches of uninterrupted work are key to productivity, but studies suggest the opposite: taking short walking breaks every 30-60 minutes can improve focus and reduce fatigue.
4. Get moving. If you’re still commuting to the office, you can use the old standby tricks of parking far away and taking the stairs a couple (or several) times a day to get your blood flowing and your step count up. If you’re working from home, use the time you normally would spend commuting to take your dog (or your neighbor’s dog?) for a walk, go for a run, join a Zoom workout class, or have your own private dance party.
5. Pack a snack. Whether your current workspace is your house or your office, you’ll be more likely to reach for a healthy snack if it’s prepped and ready for the moment hunger strikes. Pre-cut veggies like peppers and celery, fruits like apples and oranges, turkey and cheese, hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky, roasted chickpeas, and yogurt make easy, tasty snacks that can help you ignore the siren call of the doughnuts in the breakroom or the ice cream in the freezer.
6. Keep sippin’. It’s calorie-free, easily flavored, and often what your body needs when you think you’re hungry in between mealtimes, but water also helps keep you alert and boosts your metabolism. And the more you drink, the more bathroom breaks you’ll have to take throughout the day, which will increase your step count and let your brain reset!
7. Do some deskercise. If you don’t feel comfortable doing calf raises during a Zoom call, that’s okay. You can still do leg raises under your desk to activate your quad muscles and improve blood flow, and tighten and release your ab muscles to encourage good posture and stimulate digestion.
8. Track your steps. Adding more walking to your daily routine is a great thing. It’s good for your posture, your digestion, and your circulation. Take that habit to the next level by tracking your steps and committing to hit a certain number every day. You probably don’t even need to buy a step counter: if you have a smartphone, chances are it’s already counting your steps for you!
9. Crank up your calorie burn. To keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders through these stressful, uncertain times, add a natural appetite control or fat-burning supplement to your arsenal. NatureWise offers a diverse range of healthy weight supplements to support your fitness and wellness goals. Check them out!
Trying to start a weight-loss program might seem like more stress than you can handle right now, and that’s totally understandable. But if you don’t want to end up with a Regina George situation on your hands, then pick a tip or two to start with, and challenge yourself to implement them every day for a week. You might find that moving more is easier than you think!