Working from home has gone from being a benefit offered to select employees to being the new normal for millions of Americans. Upwork, in a study published in December 2020, estimated that more than 40 percent of Americans were working remotely, while a Gartner survey of business leaders found that 80 percent of companies intend to continue offering remote working solutions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Depending on their job and responsibilities, people working from home can experience a level of freedom they might not have otherwise had in the office. Conversely, spending all day at home might take away opportunities for physical activity, including a walking commute to work or exercising in the office gym.
Fortunately, there are several different things you can do to be physically active and burn calories while working at home.
Being confined to a home office doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be stationary all day. Instead, try and take breaks to walk around your office, home, yard, or even neighborhood. This not only supports physical health, but can also serve as a mental break from the day-to-day work grind. If you live in a multi-level house, consider walking up and down the stairs. Doing this for even 10 minutes can burn 100 calories and build strong leg muscles.
You can even burn calories without moving. Sitting at a desk all day contributes to greater risk of heart disease and diabetes, among other health conditions. One way to combat this is by purchasing a standing desk. These desks can be adjusted for comfort based on your height, meaning they can be lowered so that you can alternate between sitting and standing during the day. Standing desks have been shown to increase productivity, lower blood sugar levels, improve energy levels, and reduce back pain. They also lower risk of obesity, since standing burns an extra calorie per minute compared to sitting. Some estimates suggest you can burn an extra 1,000 calories per week standing at your desk as opposed to sitting.
Exercise Ball Chair
While you should stand as much as possible if you’re looking to burn extra calories throughout the work day, this might not be comfortable to do all day. However, you can continue to burn extra calories by sitting on an exercise ball instead of an office chair. This not only engages your core but also helps improve posture.
Stretching is another relatively easy way to burn calories during downtime in the workday. An easy yoga workout or a simple 30-minute stretching routine can burn upward of 100 calories and even decrease stress and improve your quality of sleep. Studies have also indicated that regular stretching breaks can boost productivity. Some of the most effective stretches for those who sit—or stand—at a desk all day include the shoulder shrug, upper-back stretch, spinal twist, forearm stretch, and torso stretch.
Stretching isn’t the only form of physical activity you can perform at your desk. In fact, you can actually use your chair—or exercise ball—to do a variety of workouts. Using a rolling chair, kneel on the floor with your elbows on the chair and push it forward and backwards while engaging your core. This can burn calories and build strong ab muscles. You can also improve your leg strength by performing split squats. To do this exercise, start by standing upright in front of the chair and place the arch of your left foot on the chair. Bend down on the right foot for a one-legged squat. Repeat with the other leg.
There are also several different exercises you can do to alleviate tight hips caused by sitting for extended periods of time. Glute bridges are particularly effective in this regard. Lying with your back and feet on the floor and your knees bent, lift your hips as high as possible by pushing into the ground with your shoulders and feet. Do at least three sets of 10 reps with one minute between sets.
Wall sits are another exercise you can do in your home office to burn calories and build leg muscles. Stand with your back against a wall and slide down the wall until you’re in a seated position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold until exhaustion and perform as many as you can throughout the day. The average person burns between 15 and 18 calories per five minutes of wall sits.
Frequent Healthy Snacks
Believe it or not, you can also burn calories while eating as long as you stick to healthy snack options such as carrots and other vegetables, pretzels, apple slices, or almonds. You also need to snack frequently throughout the day to take advantage of the calorie-burning benefits as it requires more energy to digest several smaller meals as opposed to one or two big meals per day.