7 Ways to Stay Active at Your Desk

Registered Dietician

| 4 min read

Woman in business clothes walking up stairs
Do you have a sedentary job where you sit most of the day? We have heard a lot about how bad this is, how it increases the potential for weight gain and the risk of various chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. And that’s not to mention the fact that staying more active throughout the day is also beneficial for your productivity and energy levels.

Office Exercises

Here are a few simple things to try to help keep you moving all day long:
  1. Stand instead of sit. Simply standing for part of your work day is good for you. It burns more calories, is better for your posture and allows for better blood flow throughout the body. So stand up more often.
  1. Good posture is a must. If you are sitting, sit up straight, pull your shoulders back and away from your ears and engage your core to help you do so. Remember to get your work station ergonomically evaluated so that you have less strain on your back, shoulders, hands, wrist and even your vision. Think 90 degree angles, with feet flat on the floor and your knees and hips at 90 degree angles. Also, you want to keep your mouse and keyboard where your wrists are straight and your elbows can stay tight to the body.
  1. Try sitting on a balance ball. If you are going to sit, try using a yoga ball or balance ball. It will help you engage your core muscles in your back and abdominals. Just make sure the ball is tall enough, so it does not cause any strain.
  1. Walk more. This can include a variety of things from parking your car farther away from the office to taking a walk at lunch. Instead of picking up the phone to call someone or sending an email, try walking to that person’s desk to chat face-to-face. If you are on a conference call, take a little walk or walk in place. My favorite thing to do is to have walking meetings. This works best with only two or three people, but it definitely feels good to be active instead of sitting a in meeting room for an hour. The goal is to get 10,000 steps per day for better health. Try getting a fitness tracker to keep you more accountable and aware of how sedentary you might be.
  1. Stairs? Yes, please. I know you don’t want to walk up 18 flights of stairs in your high heels or suit. However, making the effort to use the stairwell even for a few flights a day is better than not using it at all. Taking three to five flights of stairs per day can help battle the usual weight gain of 1-2 pounds per year. So avoid the elevator and escalator and start using those stairs.
  1. Stretch. Taking the time to elongate your muscles after sitting is great for your body. Try gently rolling your neck or shoulders, even your ankles and hips for a little stretch. It will feel good and also be good to take your eyes off that computer screen for a while.
  1. Waiting time can turn into movement time. Do you ever make photocopies or heat up your food in the microwave and just stand there? Try taking a little stroll or even do some lunges or squats or calf raises to tone up your muscles. Even testing your balance by lifting a foot off the ground can be a good way to engage your core without going into a heavy lifting (and grunting) session. Here are a few more desk exercises you can do at work from a PDF I put together.
I know that you are busy at work, but think of these spare moments as opportunities for an energy boost rather than a “break.” If you get your colleagues to play along too, everyone will be healthier, happier and actually more productive from it.
What do you do throughout the work day to break the monotony and get moving?
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Photo credit: Nattakorn Maneerat

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