Man using dumbbells while working in office

Statistics show that the average American spends a minimum of 6.5 hours per day seated, and this number is very likely on the rise. In an ideal world, we’d spend closer to three hours or less in a seated position, but this is easier said than done in today’s modern world.

While it should be first priority to find ways to spend less time seated throughout the day, you can also learn some simple and effective tips to burn more calories while sitting.

First, How to Stand and Move More

Burning calories while you sit is great, but what’s even more important to your overall health is finding ways to move throughout the day. Take a look at your daily routines and schedule and find several opportunities to stand up more. Maybe this is walking on your lunch break, investing in an under-desk-elliptical, setting a reminder each hour to get up and walk around the office or do 10 push-ups, riding your bike or walking to work, parking several blocks away from your destination or scheduling walks with a friend. 

Don’t limit movement to the gym, but instead expand your definition of exercise to encompass simply moving your body as much as possible every single day.

Along with more movement and steps, here are ten ways you can burn more calories while sitting:

1. Fidget

Believe it or not, fidgeting can help you to burn up to 800 additional calories per day, not to mention potentially decrease stress, improve concentration, decrease brain fog and boost cognitive function, according to studies.

Even though your parents or teachers might have bugged you stop fidgeting as a child, it can actually serve you well as an adult. If this already comes naturally and you tend to tap your foot, move your leg or whatever your particular fidget looks like, you’re ahead of the game! If not, check out these fun and effective fidget toy sets to keep at your desk.

2. Keep it Cool

For the same reason that jumping into a freezing cold lake helps you to raise metabolism and burn calories, so does keeping your room at a cool temperature. The body naturally uses energy to stay warm and regulate temperature, so by keeping the room temp at around 66 degrees or less can help you to increase insulin sensitivity and more effectively store brown fat, the more metabolically active form of fat.

3. Use a Stability Ball

Swap your desk chair for a stability ball, or at least have it around to use for parts of the day. Not only will you burn a few extra calories, but you’ll work to tone your core and legs while you’re at it. 

I love recommending this office fitness kit to clients, which comes with a stability ball, resistance bands and more to get in some seated strength exercises whenever you have an extra few minutes, or you don’t need to be using your hands.

4. Stay Hydrated

Luckily, you can be seated or standing to drink water, and studies show that only two cups of water can increase your metabolism by a whopping 30%. Staying well hydrated also keeps you satiated so naturally decreases your caloric intake, and helps to decrease bloat, boost your energy and improve productivity. 

5. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee

If caffeine agrees with you, don’t feel guilty reaching for a cup every now and then. Studies show that caffeine can help to lower body weight and burn more fat, and this goes for coffee, green tea or any other caffeinated tea. Definitely avoid sugary and calorically dense caffeinated beverages like soda, sweetened tea and coffee packed with sugar. Opt for black tea or coffee with a little cream for best results.

6. Stretch

You can still move while sitting! Not only will stretching burn a few calories, but it can make a major difference in how you feel and how prone you are to injury. Cross your arms over your chest for a shoulder stretch, folded up and back to target triceps and a yummy, full upper-body stretch by reaching both arms up as high as possible. Check out this full body chair stretch video for more ideas.

7. Tone

Using the resistance bands mentioned above, light dumbbells or any other item you have laying around the office, do some toning exercises to burn calories while sitting. Bicep curls, tricep dips and side arm raises are ones that can be done perfectly from your desk. 

8. Listen to Music

Listening to music you love can decrease stress, and high stress can cause weight gain or weight loss resistance. To relax and manage stress during a not-so-mellow workday, consider putting on your favorite tunes and taking some deep belly breaths.

9. Focus on Posture

Especially for those who spend a lot of hours sitting, good posture is foundational to health. It works to prevent injury, stave off aches and pains, improve mood, increase productivity and even burn some extra calories. If proper posture is an ongoing struggle for you, consider investing in a posture corrector, like this one.

10. Skip a Meal

Our modern-day dietary paradigm makes us feel like skipping meals is a bad thing, but it might not be. Many experts agree that humans weren’t necessarily designed to eat three square meals per day, and this becomes even more applicable to those with a sedentary lifestyle. Essentially, you can experiment with a gentle intermittent fasting routine where you skip one meal a day while sitting at your desk, and replace that meal with a cup of tea or coffee, and water. Along with eliminating calories, you’ll also reap benefits such as improved body composition, lowered systemic inflammation, improved cognitive function and more.

Sitting doesn’t have to wreak total havoc on your health. By incorporating as much movement as possible and trying out these ten tips to burn more calories, you can make the most of your day regardless of whether or not you need to be seated.