According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women made up 47 percent of the labor force in 2010, and a total of 66 million women were employed full time or part time. Many working women -- especially those with white-collar positions -- have desk jobs. But just because you're a desk jockey much of the day doesn't mean you have to be sedentary or pack on the pounds.
Women with desk jobs who aren’t physically active outside of work are classified as sedentary. But even though you’ll miss some of the benefits of working out, such as a reduced risk for heart disease and increased strength and endurance, you can still maintain a healthy body weight by controlling your caloric intake. According to Harvard Medical School, sedentary women need about 13 calories per pound of body weight each day to maintain a healthy weight; this is equivalent to 1,625 calories per day if you weigh 125 pounds. To avoid overeating at work, keep only healthy snacks at your desk -- such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds -- and avoid sweets and sugary drinks.
Moderately Active Women
A moderately active woman exercises the equivalent of walking 1.5 to 3 miles per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can accomplish this level of physical activity by walking briskly for about 30 to 45 minutes during your lunch break. According to Harvard Medical School, a moderately active woman needs about 16 calories per pound of body weight each day -- or about 2,000 calories per day for a 125-pound woman -- to maintain her weight.
A woman with a desk job is considered “active” if she exercises the equivalent of walking more than 3 miles per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can complete about 4 miles in 60 minutes by walking briskly at a pace of 4 mph. If you don’t have 60 minutes during your lunch break at work, walk 30 minutes during lunch and 30 minutes after work; you don’t have to exercise all at once to burn calories and reap health benefits. The University of Washington reports that active women need about 18 calories per pound of body weight each day -- about 2,250 calories per day for an active, 125-pound woman.
Unfortunately, many women with desk jobs weigh more than they would like to -- especially those who don’t exercise. According to Weight Control Information Network, more than 64 percent of U.S. women are classified as overweight or obese. If you’d like to lose some weight, reduce your current energy intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week. The University of Washington suggests that you eat about 10 calories per pound of your ideal body weight for weight loss, or about 1,250 calories per day if your goal weight is 125 pounds.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Women in the Labor Force in 2010
- Harvard Medical School: Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Weight Control Information Network: Overweight and Obesity Statistics
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: American Dietetic Association Publishes Evidence-based Nutrition Practice Guidelines for Registered Dietitians
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.