4 ways to burn more calories…sitting

Modern office, with female employee
Kim Steele / Getty Images
Kim Steele / Today

Sitting all day may be just about the worst thing you can do to your body. Your muscles burn less fat and blood flows more slowly. To top it off, there’s greater risk of high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and extra belly inches. Even if you make time for daily workouts, sitting slumped in front of a computer the rest of the day can undo many of those benefits. 

Regularly getting up out of your chair and moving around helps to offset some of these issues. Ideally, you should get up every hour (at the least) and walk around, do push-ups against, work in a few lunges and squats or whatever you can manage. But it’s not always possible if you’re on deadline and practically chained to your desk. So here are ways to burn calories even while you’re working.  

Tighten your abs
Planks are great. But they are not the only exercise that works your ab and core muscles. Try this even while you read these words: Tighten your abs as if someone’s about to tickle you. Hold a few seconds, release and repeat 10 times. Another good one that targets lower abs: lift your feet a couple inches off the ground, kick them out and bring them back down. Repeat as many times as you can. 

Do a little dance
If you don’t mind a few odd looks in your direction, this is a fun one. Think of (or listen to, if you can) a danceable tune and bob your head, shrug your shoulders and get your groove on. You’ll not only burn calories but it could put you in a better mood! 

Tone your legs
Straighten out your legs until they’re parallel to the ground and focus on tightening your quads (the muscles in front of your thighs). Hold a few seconds and slowly lower back down and immediately repeat. For greater resistance, rest one foot over the opposite ankle for added weight as you straighten your leg. Plus, practice rolling up onto the balls of your feet while squeezing your calves. Hold and release as you bring heels back to the floor.  

Get fidgety with it
Tapping your foot, wriggling yourself around in your seat and generally moving around without actually getting up can add up to hundreds of calories per day. (There’s actually a name for it: NEAT, for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.) Tap your pen on your desk, shake out your arms, tip your head side to side to stretch out your neck, open and close your hands to stretch your fingers, bring your shoulder blades back together and sit up straight — just keep moving!  

These tips will help keep you going on super busy days, but strive to get up at least every hour or so if you can. And, of course, aim to get to the gym or outside for a walk or run a few times a week for best results and a total body workout. 

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