8 Ways to Stay Fit in a Sedentary Work Environment

In 2009, 63.1% of adults were either obese or overweight, according to theĀ Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, and the number continues to crawl upwards each year. If you’re just starting your first desk job, you might be gaining weight simply from the reduced activity while keeping the same diet. It can be hard to counteract the long, sedentary work days with cutting calories and exercising. However, working from a desk chair for eight hours a day can certainly be detrimental to your fitness regime if you don’t make some necessary changes. If you make some modifications to your routine, you can avoid the belly bulge induced by staring at a computer screen all day.

  1. Take breaks

    While typing away at your computer, you may become so absorbed in your task that you forget to get up every once in a while. Yet, getting up and moving around from time to time can be extremely beneficial. Not only will you burn a few extra calories, but the quick break spent walking up and down the halls and even standing as opposed to sitting will reinvigorate you if you’re starting to feel sluggish in front of your computer monitor. Take frequent coffee breaks just so you can relinquish some movement from time to time. As an added bonus, coffee has been linked to longevity and is packed with antioxidants; not to mention, the caffeine will revive you as much or more than the extra time away from your chair will.

  2. Use fitness benefits

    If your company offers some sort of complimentary gym membership with its benefits or happens to have a gym in the building, take advantage of this perk and set aside time for morning or evening workouts. After you’ve been sitting all day, the aerobic exercise should feel good. If it’s close enough to walk to, you may also utilize the gym during your lunch break for a quick, mid-day boost. If your company doesn’t have anything like this, do not neglect your workout routine outside office hours. It may be the last way you want to spend your relaxation time after a grueling day at work, but the lack of physical activity can quickly add up to weight gain and general health problems.

  3. Do desk exercise

    You may be limited, but there are a couple of exercises you can do from the comfort of your desk. Utilize a Pilates ball which can force you to improve your posture and strengthen your core. You can swap your desk chair out for the ball full time or occasionally opt for one over the other. You can also lift weights at your desk, which helps boost your metabolism. You should be able to do some basic stretches from your desk to keep you limber. Some offices have areas where employees can work on their laptop standing. If your office has a raised desk area, move there to work when permitted as standing is healthier than sitting.

  4. Get enough sleep

    Not only will your work performance suffer without adequate sleep the night before, but your waistline can also increase when you neglect to get sufficient Zs. The ideal night’s rest entails about seven hours of sleep without too many interruptions. Eve Van Cauter, a University of Chicago sleep researcher, notes that when you don’t get enough sleep, the appetite-stimulating hormone Ghrelin is released while leptin, the fullness hormone, is suppressed. As a result, sleepy people are hungrier. Additionally, when you’re sleep deprived, you may be less receptive to healthy food and find yourself craving high-calorie junk foods. This is because sleep deprivation is tied to the brain releasing pleasure-seeking hormones and you’re likely seeking a carbohydrate-rich boost for the energy you lack. You may also not make complex choices about food because you aren’t well-rested enough to know better.

  5. Maximize your commute

    If you live within walking or biking distance from your office, skip out on vehicle transportation to get an easy workout in for the day. Once you get to your office, choose the staircase rather than the elevator. If you take a tram to get to work, exit the tram a few stops early to finish off your commute on foot. Park a few levels away in your parking garage and walk the extra steps to your office. However you can trim down the amount of time you spend sitting in a car, bus, or office chair will be to your advantage. To see exactly how many steps you can add to your commute, invest in a pedometer that will indicate how many physical steps you take during the course of the day. Try to increase that number over time.

  6. Pack a lunch

    It may seem inconvenient to get up earlier in the morning to pack yourself a lunch, but it can be an excellent calorie saver when you can monitor exactly what you’re eating. You can also save quite a bit of money when you pack sack lunches rather than purchasing lunch every day from different restaurants. Constantly dining out at restaurants and indulging in fast food can amount to thousands of calories, easily over your daily limit for just one meal. Often, restaurant portions are large enough to equate to several servings. If you must eat out, try to make healthy choices, such as opting for the salad bar or pack up half of your meal in a doggie bag for lunch later in the week. You can also pack healthy snacks like celery or apples to munch on throughout the day, keeping your energy up and your hunger in check.

  7. Reduce stress

    If your job is stressful, it can actually take a toll on your weight. According to Elissa Epel, Ph.D, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, stress can cause weight gain over time because the changes in hormones during stressful activity increase your appetite. When stressed, our body’s neuro-endocrine system first sends a fight or flight response and then prompts you to replenish nutritional stores. While this makes sense in a survival situation, the stress you face at work isn’t harrowing enough to necessitate extra nutrition. Yet, the response will still likely cause you to want to eat more. Eliminating stress can be as simple as clearing your desk clutter and managing time better.

  8. Stay hydrated

    Drinking plenty of water can curb the appetite and reduces bloating by flushing everything out and aiding in digestion. Water fills you up, helping you to control the size of your portions better. It can also prevent you from drinking less wise beverage options like sugary sodas and other sources of liquid calories. According to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, drinking two eight-ounce portions of water prior to each meal helps you lose weight and keep it off. In the study, those that drank water consistently before each meal lost an additional one-and-a-half pounds on average compared to those that were simply following a low-calorie diet. Keep a water bottle at your desk to sip on periodically throughout the day and watch the pounds melt away.