Is sitting too much stopping you losing?

Sophie Edgington - Nutritionist | 14 Mar, 2021

Headlines such as "Is your chair killing you?" definitely grab attention! It might sound exaggerated, but the message is clear – inactivity is bad for us!

For many of us, working from home over the last year has changed our daily routines massively and meant we're not as active throughout the day as we were before. A week or two might not matter, but a full year? You're lucky if you've been able to avoid weight gain, even if just a few pounds!

We defy anyone to say this hasn't impacted their weight, fitness or sense of wellbeing in some way. However, a positive learning has been to appreciate the exercise we CAN do and find creative ways of getting some activity back into our days.

Why NEAT is the key!

You probably never realised just how important this was until you stopped doing it! We're talking about all the stuff we do throughout the day without thinking that contributes to our energy burn - not exercise, just general movement. It's called 'NEAT' – non-exercise activity thermogenesis – which is the energy we expend for everything that is not sleeping or sports-like exercise. And it has an important role in keeping our weight in check.

Have a think about your daily routine and what has maybe changed over the last few months. Are there tweaks you can make to increase the calorie burning potential of some of the regular tasks you do? Here are 11 ideas to help you burn more calories without doing actual 'exercise'.


Every little helps!

The small stuff counts! Your challenge is to find ways of making everyday tasks use more energy, especially if you are sat at your desk working from home. Here are some to help get you started...

  • Do squats or star jumps while waiting for the kettle to boil
  • Got a work Zoom meeting? Do it standing up (suggest everyone else does the same)
  • Take phone calls standing up (you'll find yourself pacing without thinking!)
  • Use a toilet on a different floor
  • Carry one item upstairs at a time

And for those who want to get more actual exercise into their routine

You can achieve great levels of fitness without gym equipment. The important thing is to know what exercises to do and of course find the motivation to do it! Here are our top tips on how to get yourself motivated...

  1. Exercise with a friend (virtually!) – ask a friend to be your workout buddy. Get a video call going and prop your phone up so you can encourage each other and workout together. Being accountable to someone else helps you stay on track as you don't want to let the other person down!
  2. Use online resources & fitness DVDs – there are loads of workout videos on YouTube. Having someone shout instructions at you is much easier and more motivating than putting together your own routine. Or now is the perfect time to dig out your old fitness DVDs.
  3. Get into a routine – having some structure for your day is important, whether you are now working at home or not. Many people prefer exercising in the morning when their energy levels are higher, and you can get it done for the day. But right now we have the opportunity of working out when it IS your optimum exercise time. Choose your daily time slot and stick to it. (If it helps, write it on a wall calendar for a sense of commitment – and satisfaction when you've completed it!)
  4. Family fitness fun! – If you have a young family, exercise together. It's a good way to occupy the kids for half an hour and keeps you fit too.

Remember – exercise is great for boosting your weight loss but also brings many health benefits with it. So whether you do actual exercise or simply increase your daily movements to boost your calorie burn – it all adds up to great results.

Nutritionist Sophie Edgington (ANutr), BSc Nutrition is passionate about practising evidence-based nutrition and debunking the multitude of inaccurate myths that so readily surround food and health information. Her goal is to ensure we are all able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding our health.