11 ways to burn more calories during the workday

Use these tips to move more and maximize your daily burn.
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You sit at a desk all day and wish there was something you could do to make your weekly routine a little less sedentary—especially since you’ve been reading about how excessive time spent sitting is associated with a host of negative health effects, even if you exercise regularly.

And maybe you’re trying to lose a little bit of extra weight, too, which you know (in addition to eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet) requires that you increase your daily activity levels. But how can you boost the amount you move around—and as a result, the amount of calories you burn—throughout the day, when most of it is spent sitting behind a desk?

It might be easier than you think. We can offer some helpful tips and tricks that will maximize your time so you can move as much as possible, no matter how busy your workday might be. Just promise us you won’t forget the most important thing about health and fitness: There are no shortcuts to success. No matter what your goal is, you have to put in the hard work if you want to achieve it.

--By Katie Rosenbrock

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Build more muscle

Lean muscle is metabolically active tissue, which means your body has to expend energy in order to maintain it. By increasing your muscle mass through strength training and eating a diet rich in protein, you’ll naturally increase your metabolism and easily burn more calories every day.

More: Strength training is the key to building muscle. Check out our complete guide.

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Drink more water

In addition to keeping you hydrated, increasing your water intake will force you to get up and away from your desk a few times a day. “It’s easy to get 'busy' or forget to get up and move around,” says Amanda Russell, a personal trainer and the creator of the Fit Strong and Sexy training regimen.

“To keep yourself in check without having to think about it, start your day with 1 to 2 liters of water and then keep some more at your desk. Drink up all day long. It will force you to use the bathroom more frequently, thus making you get up from your desk and take a walk. And while you're up, throw in a few stretches. You’ll come back feeling better and more productive.”

More: Ever wonder how much water you need to stay hydrated? The 8 glasses a day myth gets busted here.

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That’s Internet speak for, “exercise at your desk.” There are plenty of easy, equipment-free exercises you can do while you’re working the day away at your desk. For some ideas, see “12 exercises you can do while sitting down.” You might also consider investing in some fitness-friendly office accessories. The DeskCycle is perfect for in-office exercisers who wish to be a bit more discreet.

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Go for a walk

This one is obvious and we bet you’ve heard it a million times. But be honest, how many times a week do you actually take walks during your workday? Instead of eating during your "lunch" break, try chowing down at your desk while you get some work done and then when you’re ready for a real break, go outside and go for a walk.

More: Not only is a walk a great way to burn calories, but it can put your brain in a meditative state, too. Find out how.

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Take the stairs

This tip can be stacked in the same category as taking a walk. We know you’ve heard it too many times before, but we still think it’s worth repeating because taking the elevator is just too easy. We challenge you to make a commitment to taking a few extra steps every day by opting for the stairs any time you have the choice between stepping up and standing still. (This applies on the way down, too!)

More: Turn your house into a hardcore workout center with these stair workouts for runners.

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Go the distance

What exactly does this mean? Almost anything! Choose the farthest parking spot, get off a subway stop early or take a loop around your building before heading into the office. The possibilities here are almost endless. All you have to do is pay attention and seize the opportunity any time there’s a chance for you to move more.

More: Improve your health by sitting less and utilizing these 5 ways to move more every day.

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Set a timer

If you’re like me, you intend to get up and walk around every 60 minutes or so over the course of the day, but then work takes over, you get sucked into a time-intensive task and before you know it three hours have passed since you’ve moved anything but your fast-typing fingers.

An easy way to break this habit is by setting a timer. Set the alarm on your phone or an alert on your desktop calendar for 60- to 90-minute intervals, and make a promise to stand up and move around, even if it’s just to stretch, every time it goes off.

More: A timer can make a great gift for a fitness fanatic or beginner. For more fitness gadgets, check out our fitness gift guide.

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Walk and talk (or text)

Russell also recommends standing up and pacing around any time you’re talking on the phone. In the same sense, if you’re able to access your email on a mobile device, why not do the same while working on your inbox? Just be sure you choose a safe place to walk where you won’t bump into anyone or anything.

More: “Sitting disease” can kill you, and the cure couldn't be simpler. Take a stand against sitting.

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Sit up straight

Maybe we sound like your mom, but practicing good posture will force you to engage the muscles in your core, shoulders and back and as a result, lead to an increase in your energy expenditure. In fact, according to one study from researchers at the University of Sydney, it could increase your calorie burn by about 17 percent when compared to sitting in a slouched position. The study found that fidgeting around while seated can increase your calorie burn, too.

More: Everyone knows sitting with bad posture isn’t good for you, but you might be shocked by these 3 ways it’s hurting athletes

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