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8 Ways to Burn Calories at the Office

Burn calories without leaving the office with these tips from a top nutritionist.

In today's sedentary work culture, maximizing physical activity during the workday is paramount for enhancing overall health and productivity. Regular movement can counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting, such as poor posture, back pain, and an increased risk of chronic diseases. Here are unconventional workspace routines that can help you boost calorie burning and aid in weight loss.

Start By Evaluating Your Work Environment

Freelancer working from home and using phone

First, evaluate your work environment and personal comfort level. If you have access to a gym and can spare time for workouts, commit to using it. For those dressed in professional attire and unable to sweat, find low-impact ways to incorporate movement. Second, setting a goal to integrate more movement into your workday can significantly improve your well-being. Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal-setting framework can help create realistic and tailored objectives.

Evaluating Your Capabilities

Concentrated young indian ethnicity woman sitting in comfortable adjustable ergonomic armchair with lumbar support, studying or working on computer in modern home office. distant workday concept.

Next, evaluate your capabilities. By evaluating what you can do within your work environment and setting SMART goals, you can effectively integrate more movement into your daily routine.

Start By Looking at Your Situation

Young business man working at home with laptop and papers on desk

Take the following into consideration:

  • Assess Your Environment: Determine if you have access to facilities like a gym or open spaces for walking.
  • Consider Your Attire: If you wear professional attire, opt for low-impact activities that won't cause sweating.
  • Time Constraints: Evaluate how much time you can realistically dedicate to physical activity during your workday.
  • Physical Limitations: Be mindful of any health conditions or physical limitations that might restrict certain activities.

RELATED: The Most Common Reason Your Body Doesn't Burn Fat (And How to Fix It)

Set SMART Goals

Young businessman laughing while walking in a modern office carrying a laptop with colleagues at work in the background

Tips for Setting SMART Goals

  • Specific: Define exactly what you want to achieve. Instead of "move more," set a goal like "walk for 30 minutes during lunch breaks to reach 5,000 steps daily."
  • Measurable: Ensure you can track your progress. Use a pedometer or fitness app to monitor steps taken daily.
  • Achievable: Set realistic goals based on your current fitness level and schedule. Gradually increase the intensity or duration as you progress.
  • Relevant: Align your goals with your personal health objectives. For instance, if your aim is to reduce back pain, incorporate more standing and stretching into your routine.
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline to achieve your goals. For example, "Hit 5,000 steps 5 days a week for the next month."

Choose From These Ideas


Here are my top 8 creative ideas to boost calorie burning at work, divided into those suitable for more intensive activities and those that can be done regardless of attire. It's important to note the number of calories you burn depends on factors like weight, height, and intensity. However, incorporating more movement into your workday is beneficial regardless of the specific calorie count.

But, Consult Your MD First

A doctor is taking the blood pressure of a woman who is wearing sportswear.

Before you jump in to these ideas, please consult with your doctor, trainer, physical therapist, and any other applicable health providers to make sure you are in a good place to do anything listed below.

1. Walking Meetings

Couple of business people discussing tasks walking in the office hall. Two diverse colleagues have small talk during break. Friendly atmosphere in team

Why It Matters: Walking can burn approximately 150 calories per hour and enhances creativity and productivity by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Studies show that walking improves performance on creative tasks by up to 60%.

Implementation: Schedule non-note-taking meetings as walking meetings. Choose a safe, quiet route and encourage participants to wear comfortable shoes.

Tips: Use a voice recorder or app to capture key points discussed during the walk.(If legal, and others agree!) Start with shorter walks to gather feedback and make adjustments.

Pitfalls: Participants might feel uncomfortable with the new format. Mitigate this by explaining the benefits and making walks optional at first.

2. Stair Climbing

Brunette woman in a yellow sweater climbing up the stairs.

Why It Matters: Climbing stairs burns significantly more calories than walking on flat ground—approximately 10 calories per minute. It also strengthens lower body muscles and improves cardiovascular health.

Implementation: Use stairs instead of elevators. Take extra flights during breaks and aim for a few sessions each day.

Tips: Increase intensity by taking stairs two at a time or incorporating a few sprints. Use supportive footwear to reduce the risk of injury.

Pitfalls: Knee strain is a common risk. Use proper technique, avoid rushing, and listen to your body to prevent overexertion.

3. Desk Pedals

abstract of close up view of portable exercising bicycle

Why It Matters: Desk pedals keep legs moving, increasing calorie expenditure by approximately 100-150 calories per hour and improving circulation.

Implementation: Place under-desk pedals and use them during meetings or while reading emails. Start with 10-minute sessions and gradually increase duration as comfort improves.

Tips: Keep the resistance low to avoid distraction. Focus on low-intensity pedaling to maintain productivity.

Pitfalls: This can be distracting initially. Mitigate this by gradually increasing the duration and keeping the resistance low.

4. Mini Stepper

Mini Stepper Elliptical home gym equipment. Ideal for weight loss and improving overall fitness.

Why It Matters: Engages lower body muscles, boosting calorie burn and improving cardiovascular fitness by burning around ~100 calories in 20 minutes.

Implementation: Use a mini stepper for short intervals throughout the day, especially during phone calls or webinars.

Tips: Maintain good posture to avoid back strain. Vary stepping speed to keep it interesting.

Pitfalls: Overuse can lead to muscle fatigue. Use in moderation and combine with other activities to prevent strain.

5. Standing Desks

Worker Stretch Exercise At Stand Desk In Office

Why It Matters: Standing rather than sitting burns an additional ~10 calories per 10 minutes and reduces the risk of musculoskeletal problems.

Implementation: Use a standing desk and alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes.

Tips: Use an anti-fatigue mat to reduce strain on your feet. Wear comfortable shoes and take small breaks to move around.

Pitfalls: Standing for too long can cause fatigue. Alternate between sitting and standing frequently to avoid discomfort.

6. Pacing During Calls

Image of happy young man walking on the street and looking aside while talking by his phone.

Why It Matters: Walking while talking can significantly increase daily steps, burning about 150 calories per hour.

Implementation: Use a headset and walk around the office or outdoors during calls. Plan routes that are quiet to minimize background noise.

Tips: Schedule longer calls for more extended walks. Vary your routes to keep things interesting and maintain engagement.

Pitfalls: Ensure you can maintain focus on the call while walking. Choose quieter routes to avoid distractions and improve concentration.

7. Parking Farther Away

Woman in a parking garage, unlocking in her car. Woman activating her car alarm in an underground parking garage as she walks away. Business woman walking with car keys in the underground parking

Why It Matters: Increases daily step count, contributing to overall calorie burn and cardiovascular health.

Implementation: Park at the far end of the parking lot to extend your walking distance. Combine this with carrying your work materials to add a bit of resistance training.

Tips: Use this extra walking time to mentally prepare for your day or to unwind after work. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

Pitfalls: Weather can be a barrier. Dress appropriately for the conditions and use an umbrella if needed to stay comfortable.

RELATED: 6 "Realistic Sacrifices" I Made to Lose 20 Pounds in Less Than 3 Months

8. Using a Farther Coffee Machine/Water Cooler/Bathroom/Printer

Man in the kitchen pouring a mug of hot filtered coffee from a glass pot. Having breakfast in the morning

Why It Matters: Walking to a farther location multiple times a day increases your step count and overall activity level, burning extra calories. Each 5-minute walk can burn around 20-30 calories.

Implementation: Choose the farthest coffee machine, water cooler or bathroom from your workspace and make trips there at least 3 times a day.

Tips: Use these walks as a mini-break to clear your mind and stretch your legs.

Pitfalls: It can be easy to forget. Set reminders to make these trips part of your daily routine.

Make Small, Consistent Efforts

Rear View Of Woman Working From Home On Computer In Home Office Stretching At Desk

Incorporating more movement into your daily work routine is not about drastic changes or intense workouts; it's about making small, consistent efforts that add up over time. Just like collecting pennies in a jar, these small actions accumulate to make a significant impact on your overall health and calorie expenditure.

Small Efforts Contribute to Long-Term Goals

Standing Office Yoga Workout And Workout Near Business Computer

Don't be discouraged by the seemingly low-calorie burn of individual activities. When practiced consistently, day in and day out, week in and week out, and month after month, these small efforts collectively contribute to your long-term health and fitness goals.

Over Time, You Will Notice a Change

Triceps Dip Chair Workout Exercise At Office Desk

Remember, it's the consistency and persistence that bring about meaningful results. Start integrating these creative strategies today, and over time, you'll notice positive changes in your health and well-being.

Find an Accountability Buddy

Diverse group of smiling young people doing stretching exercises at workplace in office

Please remember, it is important to consult with doctors and trainers before starting any new workout routine. Lastly, to stay on track, don't be afraid to seek an accountability buddy at work or elsewhere to help you stay motivated and consistent.

Research Has Found That Those Who Don't Move at Work Are More Likely to Die Sooner

Experienced executive manager quarreling with employee on mobile yelling and screaming about bad report and failure with project, mad boss angry about software bugs in application for work

Why is moving at work important?  A study published in JAMA Network Open found that people who mostly sit all day at work have a 16% higher risk of mortality from all causes, and a 34% higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.

RELATED: 15 Fresh Ideas to Lose Stomach Fat Before Summer

Moving Just 15 Minutes More Can Mitigate Sedentary Damage

Front view of blank white isolated poster on a light grey wall at the entrance to modern loft office interior with concrete floor and walking businessman on window city view background. Mockup

According to researchers, those who engaged in an additional 15 to 30 minutes of physical activity that day can counteract the increased risk. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise a week.

💪🔥Body Booster: Walking while talking can significantly increase daily steps, burning about 150 calories per hour.