No doubt about it: Prolonged sitting is bad for our health. Yet adults, on average, spend more than half their waking hours sitting. While we can’t spot reduce any specific part of the body or zap fat specifically from our midsection, we can do little things throughout the workday to encourage overall weight loss and tummy toning.
What Studies Show
According to a 2009 study in "British Journal of Sports Medicine," just 4 percent to 5 percent percent of an average adult’s day is spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Sitting time, the study said, was a predictor of weight gain among Australian women even after adjusting for energy intake and leisure time physical activity. In addition, more breaks during sedentary time -- the term used to characterize low-energy behavior such as prolonged sitting -- is important for blood glucose control. The study says these relationships are consistently stronger for women than for men.
Not only can idle sitting increase your risk of diseases, such as deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure, but it can also do a number on your metabolism. “Exercising throughout the workday prevents metabolic slowdown,” explain Mark and Kathy Brown, master level certified personal trainers. “When we stand and move, we start the metabolic process of burning calories again.” And since more than two-thirds of middle-age people in developed countries are overweight or obese, it's a good idea to encourage workplace mobility. Plus, doing abdominal exercises at your desk helps support the spine and back and improves balance, flexibility and overall core strength.
Walk or Bike
If you have a short commute to the office, consider walking or biking. If driving is the only option, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk more, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Organize a lunchtime walking group: Group exercise encourages everyone to stay on a regular exercise schedule. You can even conduct walking meetings or brainstorming sessions. The more you walk, the greater the benefits. And if you’re having a busy day and can’t escape from the desk, simply stand and move around when you’re on the phone.
There are many small exercise tools, such as resistance bands and small hand weights, you can store at your workplace for simple exercises such as arm curls. Consider trading your desk chair for a fitness ball to improve your balance and tone your core while sitting at your desk. Some people even walk on a treadmill during work hours by positioning their computer screen and keyboard on a treadmill-ready vertical desk. In fact, Mayo Clinic researchers estimate two to three hours of computer walking time in your day can help you drop 44 to 66 pounds in a year.
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