Tips for Staying Active with a Desk Job

The CDC guidelines for levels of physical activity recommend that adults get two and a half hours a week of moderate intensity exercise.  This level of physical activity has shown to have many positive effects on your life.  It can help with weight control as well as lower your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, potentially extending your lifespan.  It also can have the bonus effect of lifting your mood.

Two and a half extra hours can seem overwhelming for those of us who feel like we already have trouble fitting everything in between long hours at work, taking care of kids, and whatever else pops up to surprise you in a given week.  The good news is anything you do helps and you don’t have to do it all at once. 

Here are some ideas for making your work day count towards your goals:

  • When you get a chance walk the halls or do a flight of stairs.  Need to speak with a colleague? Whenever possible, instead of shooting an email or calling, walk down the hall or to the next floor to catch them in person.
  • Squeeze in a walk during your lunch break. Even ten to twenty minutes will make a dent in your weekly goal.
  • If you have a longer lunch break, consider a gym membership close to work to fit in your workout and break up your day.
  • Do a quick set of squats at your desk on a break.  (This tends to draw fewer stares in a private office or empty break room, but an exercise like calf raises is a little more discreet)
  • Get up out of your chair and stand whenever possible. Stand when you talk on the phone. Stand while checking email on your mobile device.  Discuss a standing desk with your employer.
  • Take a standing break every hour to break up the long day of sitting.  Set a timer as a reminder.
  • Consider purchasing bike pedals that sit under your desk so you can keep moving and increase leg circulation during longer periods of sitting.

Even if you are already exercising in the evenings, it is very difficult to combat 8-10 hours a day of sitting, so implementing some of these ideas can complement your existing program.

The trick is to find a couple of changes to fit into your current work day and repeat, repeat, repeat until you make it a habit.


Written by,

Sara Butler, PT, DPT

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