How to Burn More Calories While Sitting: 10 Best Ways to Burn Calories

Jordan Robinson
Written by
Last update:

First, How to Stand and Move More

Standup desks are becoming popular, which save energy by preventing the body from having to work as hard to do simple tasks such as standing while talking on the phone, eating lunch at your desk, sitting and using the computer, etc.

But even without a standing desk, we tend to stand and move less and more often than other primates due to the trend toward office jobs and the more sedentary lifestyles they promote.

Let’s take a look at how you can make small, practical changes in your work environment to increase your overall body movement and burn more calories throughout the day.

‗ Especially if It’s a Short Break Change between Standing and Sitting Every 30 Minutes

Every 30 minutes Do a few jumping jacks, use a mini-trampoline, or climb stairs while talking on the phone at your desk.

At your desk Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. Or walk up escalators

Do Active Stretches or Mini-Workouts on Your Breaks

Move whenever possible. Use wall space in your office to do push ups or stretches


When you move around, your body burns calories. But when you fidget while sitting, you actually burn more calories than when you sit still. Fidgeting while sitting doesn’t mean a constant state of motion though.

In one study conducted in 2014, participants with a hand-held device were asked to sit and fidget or not. It was found that those who fidgeted burned an average of 144 calories per day, while those who sat still and didn’t fidget burned only 61 calories.

The fidgeting sessions consisted of tapping their fingers or toes, rocking back and forth, or otherwise moving in their seats. If that seems like too much motion for you, we have a couple of other suggestions.

Stand up and stretch when you’re on the phone. Or strut on over to the coffee maker when your coffee is done brewing.

Another way to burn more calories while sitting is to hold lighter weight dumbbells in each hand and do a bicep curl. Hold your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing toward you. Curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders and lower.

Keep it Cool

People eat more when the room is warm especially when they are watching TV. People also burn fewer calories when they are outside. This is because the body cools itself by sweating.

So if you want to burn more calories, you can sit on the couch with your feet up. And make a point of coming inside when you start to feel warm.

The same principle applies when you’re outside. Wear a hat or take some shade and wear a lightweight athletic top on hot days.

When you do work outside, try to work when it’s cooler. But if that’s not possible, wear two sets of clothes and change into the fresh set when you’re done. The temperature drop will keep your body cool. This method is sometimes used by trainers for the elderly or by hunters tracking prey for long periods. These hunters must remain close to the animal that they’re tracking (so that the animal doesn’t get away). And instead of walking in circles or hiking to keep up with the animal, they follow the animal’s trail by staying on the animal’s scat.

Use a Stability Ball

A recent study of office workers in Norway found that using a stability ball for an hour a day helped people lose weight. And the results didn’t come from being on their feet but from being seated. The study also found that employees cited a lower back injury and increased concentration as two other benefits.

Because you’re sitting on the ball, you have to engage your core muscles to find balance. When you do sit on it, you likely have to sit back more than you normally do, which opens your lungs up more.

The ball also changes your posture as you sit on it, which changes the patterns of tension in your lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. This also encourages the spine to maintain a neutral posture and helps joints move in a more optimal position.

You can also use an exercise ball to perform exercises when seated. The stability ball crunch is simply a traditional crunch performed while seated on the ball.

Other variations of the exercise ball include using it for squats, wall slides, and push-ups. And if you want to take exercising while seated to the next level, consider purchasing or building a Swiss exercise ball or a kneeling stools to support the ball for more challenging workouts.

Stay Hydrated

Water is better than any energy drink at waking you up and keeping you moving. It helps to maintain proper body temperature and assists the body with removing waste products.

When you become dehydrated, your energy will decrease and you’ll most likely become more sluggish. As well, drinking enough water will help you to lose weight faster. This is because it helps you feel full faster and aids in the digestion of food. So stay hydrated and you’ll be surprised at how much more calories you burn during the day.

Enjoy a Cup of Coffee

Before you say, “Sitting around drinking coffee does nothing,” the truth is that your body burns calories, even while you relax.

A group of Australian researchers recruited volunteers to sit for eight hours a day while a machine used electricity to stir participants’ blood in an effort to slow the flow. On that basis, they estimated what it cost to keep the body in a resting state. The result? Thirty-eight calories for a man and 19 calories for a woman.

While this may not seem like much, a lot of us find a way to burn as few as 2,000 calories a day. So even if you can sit comfortably in one place for an eight-hour period, you can burn well over 400 extra calories.

And if you go and get a cup of coffee while you sit? That’s just a little extra treat you can add to your day.


Any kind of movement, including slow movement, is better than no movement, which is why sitting stretches are important. They increase mobility and keep you from getting too stiff throughout the day. You don’t have to do Downward Dog or Triangle Pose to do it … simply cross your legs at the ankles and lean forward to feel the stretch. Or bend your knees and extend your arms in front of you. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and repeat.

This is a pretty easy exercise that any desk worker can fit into their workday, as long as you find a place and a time where you can do it without being obvious. You can also do calf raises while seated to make your calf muscles stronger, and your feet will feel better too.


Exercising without weights is a great way to create functional muscle tone without bulking up.

While enhancing strength is the number one goal of weight training, a lot of people are interested in toning their muscles for aesthetic reasons, too. This is why more gym-goers are ditching the weight machines and heading straight to the cardio machines.

But if you’re not interested in increasing your strength, why should you bother with the limited, one-dimensional workouts of the machines? Why not take advantage of the total body toning option available to you at the same time?

The beauty of toning without weights is that it improves the efficiency of your muscles.

By lifting your own body weight, you don’t just work the muscle that’s performing the action, you also get help from other muscles. It’s like having a built-in weight stack.

Listen to Music

Some of the best workouts have been driven by great music. You’re more efficient at the gym when listening to music. You can burn more calories and heart if you listen to faster music.

But listening to music too loudly is not safe for your ears. Ear buds can increase the intensity of your workouts but always check with your physician before increasing your activity levels.

Additionally, research has shown that listening to fast music helps you burn more calories. If your pace is slowed, it can have a negative impact. Just another reason to always listen to music, whether you’re running, biking, walking or working out at the gym.

Focus on Posture

When you have a conversation with someone sitting in a chair, the person on the other side of the table is more likely to lean forward than you are. It’s as if the person on the other side of the table is trying to get as close as possible so they can hear you. Thankfully, you don’t have to lean to hear a person while speaking over the phone. You can maintain good posture and good breathing without stressing yourself in any other way!

To practice good breathing, slowly inhale in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. Establish a slow rhythm.

To practice good posture, imagine a thread attached to the top of your head. As you inhale, imagine pulling yourself up a little higher so your body elongates. As you exhale, continue to elongate your body until you’re tall and relaxed, keeping your shoulders back and your knees slightly bent.

When you combine good breathing with good posture, you’ll relax your mind, focus on your conversation and eliminate stress.

Skip a Meal

It sounds drastic, but if you know how to fast, you can effectively burn more calories. The body typically burns up to 75% of calories in the morning. So if you skip breakfast or even lunch, you can cut out a good chunk of the calories you would have burned.

With no food in the stomach to break down, the body will use all available resources to keep your metabolism running and burn more calories. It could be as much as 300 extra calories a day! Burning 300 extra calories each day translates to burning about 1.5 lbs of fat each week.

If you skip a meal, your body also may react with changes in hormone levels. Lowering the insulin level may help burn extra calories.

However, if you’re looking for a quick weight loss hack, try slowly increasing meal times to allow more time before and after a meal for metabolism to kick in.