Get Moving!

September 08, 2011

A study published earlier this year by the online journal PLoS One found that Americans are burning fewer calories per day in the workplace than previous generations of workers!  This study used statistics from the US Bureau of Labor gathered in the period from the early 1960's until  now.  The research shows that women burn 100 calories less and men burn 140 calories less during work hours per day! Taking into consideration the standard five-day work week, that means American workers are using 25,000 to 35,000 fewer calories a year at their jobs than they were 50 years ago! And that doesn't include the commute to work, time spent in front of the television, or the tasks accomplished in front of the computer at home that used to include a walk to the post office! Small changes to your work habits can have a big effect on how many calories your burn during the day:
  • Park your car farther away from the entrance.
  • Take the stairs. If you work on the 12th floor, you may feel tempted to cross this one off the list right away! Try starting with climbing two or three flights of stairs each day and adding one each week. You'll build up the stamina quickly.
  • Bring light dumbbells or other hand weights to work. When there's a slow period, do a few curls or lateral arm raises.
  • Do  stretching, bending, and dynamic movements throughout the day. Ideally, you want to aim for 5 to 10 minutes every hour. Stand up and walk to to the file cabinet, rather than 'rolling' to it in your chair; take the long route to the restroom or kitchen; walk over and talk to a co-worker instead of emailing, get creative!
  • Make small bouts of activity part of your daily personal practice. Take short breaks to stretch or move your entire body, especially those muscles that tighten up during prolonged sitting.
  • Stand whenever you can. Standing uses more muscles and burns about 2 calories a minute more than when sitting. Each 10 minute phone call is worth 60 calories, and that's without bending or reaching for those notes!
  • Take a 15-minute walk during your last break before your last two hours of work. You'll be surprised at how much more efficiently work gets done afterward.
Remember, when you begin to feel lethargic, get up and move! Lethargy caused by sedentary workdays is a big obstacle to any fitness regime. Keep yourself moving during the day and it will extend into healthier, more active 'after hours!'

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