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Burn While You Earn

11/11/2011 1:25:03 PM

By Angela Rose,

The official exercise recommendation of the United States Surgeon General is at least 30 minutes of “moderate activity” five days a week. For those of you who work active jobs (such as hospitality or retail), this exercise requirement may be met by the activities in which you engage during an eight-hour shift. However, if your glutes spend most of their days pressed against a desk chair, avoiding what may seem like inevitable weight gain takes a little more effort. Here are a few suggestions to help the desk jockeys among you burn while you earn.

1. Walk it off – Pry yourself out of that chair and take a walk. Take the long way to the bathroom or the fax. Go outside and walk the block on your break. Walk the stairs or even do laps through the hallways if you don’t like the weather outside. Forgo the elevator at all times. Park your car as far as possible from the front door. Have a question for your boss? Walk to her office and ask it in person rather than using email.

2. Stand up for your rights – These include your right to avoid a permanent chair imprint on your backside despite navigating a computer all day. Standing burns more calories than sitting, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stand while talking on the phone. Stand while eating lunch. Stand in meetings (if you don’t mind people staring).

3. Show a little resistance – Resistance band, that is. These stretchy rubber cords come in various resistance levels and are small enough to stash in a drawer. Use them to perform a variety of exercises at your desk including bicep curls, triceps extensions and upright rows. You’ll burn calories and build muscle. You can also do light cardio exercise at your desk such as jogging in place, squats, lunges or jumping jacks (although you may want to shut your office door). Even if you don’t have an office, you can use the bands for leg resistance training under your desk.

4. Schedule exercise – If you’re a morning person, you may enjoy getting up a bit earlier and working out before you head to the office. If you’re not a morning person, consider hitting the gym on your lunch break or on the way home. If you can’t get away from the office, schedule mini workouts during your workday. The benefits of exercise have been shown to be cumulative, so three 10-minute sessions can burn as many calories as one 30-minute session.

5. Avoid the break room – This has more to do with shunning vending machines and tempting baked goods than burning calories, but it can be very helpful if you don’t want to pack on the pounds. Eat a healthy breakfast (one including fiber and protein) and you’ll be less tempted to indulge in a mid-morning snack. If you cannot avoid snacking while you work, stock your desk with healthier options such as fruits and veggies, microwave popcorn (no butter, of course) or nuts.

When you transition from an active job or period of unemployment when you had lots of time for exercise to a position in which you spend most of your day behind a desk, the resultant weight gain can come as a shock. Utilize these suggestions to burn while you earn and you’ll experience the added benefit of reduced stress and improved mood as well as avoid the creeping pounds.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for

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