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Tips to Stay Active at a Desk Job

Woman working at a standing desk with a yoga ball.

Many of us work from home or in an office where most of our day is spent behind a monitor screen and a keyboard. Unfortunately, sitting at a desk for several hours is not suitable for our health.

Both our mind and body are negatively impacted when we sit for hours, especially when our day is full of meetings and busy work. Luckily there are plenty of ways to stay active throughout your day without getting behind on work.

What Happens When You Sit at a Desk All Day

Someone sitting at a desk stretching.
Daisy Daisy/Shutterstock.com

You’ve purchased a comfortable office chair and have set your space up to be ergonomically correct. But why are your neck and back still aching from a day at the office?

According to Healthline, too much sitting will cause your muscles to weaken over time and can cause weight gain. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are also at higher risk because your bodies aren’t getting that essential movement and exercise. Not only is your physical health at risk, but anxiety and depression are higher in people who sit for most of the day.

Our bodies were made to move, not stay in place, so when we spend 35-40 hours or more per week on an office chair, we’re not doing ourselves any favors. Plus, when you come home to relax after a long day at work, you’re more likely to head to the couch than the treadmill, so that means more sitting.

Tips to Stay Active at a Desk Job

A women using a yoga ball chair to get a little exercise in at work.

Finding time in your day to get moving (even while at work) is essential. With several concerns stemming from being on our behinds all day, luckily, there is plenty you can do to get moving again.

From upgrading your workspace with an adjustable standing desk to taking your lunch break outside for a change of scenery and a chance to get moving, there is so much you can get a little fitness in your day.

Suggest Walking Meetings

Whether you have daily supervision meetings scheduled each morning or your small work team meets regularly, taking your session outside can improve everyone’s day. These little breaks from your office space will keep your eyes off the screen and help mix up your daily routine.

You will likely notice little boosts in everyone’s mood, and your ability to concentrate and increase productivity will improve too. Taking your one-on-one meetings over the phone and spending the time you chat while taking a walk is a fantastic way to kill two birds with one stone.

Get an Exercise Ball

You may have heard that purchasing an exercise ball to replace your office chair will help activate trunk muscles and possibly increase calorie burn. While they were super trendy for a while, they might not actually be a suitable replacement for your office chair. One study suggests prolonged sitting on an unstable exercise ball does not significantly impact muscle activation.

Another study points out that your posture and level of discomfort may be worse when switching to an exercise ball. They might not be your best option for an office chair, but having an exercise ball in the office is an excellent opportunity to take a ten-minute break and get a little workout in your day.

If you’re looking for ways to get a quick stretch or workout on the break, here is a list of awesome exercise ball workouts you can do right in your office.

Trideer Exercise Ball

Includes a pump!

Set Timers for Breaks

Taking several short breaks during your busy workday has been proven beneficial in several ways. Healthline suggests breaking up your day every 50 to 90 minutes to take a micro-break.

A micro-break is generally anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes long and is an opportunity to get your blood flowing while you step away from your desk. Take the time to fill up your water bottle, stretch, or water the office plants.

Any intentional standing or movement away from your desk is a healthy use of your time and can improve productivity and will improve your mental health. Especially on the busiest days, take a quick 30-second break and set reminders for yourself so you don’t miss out on the free boost of positive energy.

Try a Standing Desk

Another great way to break up your routine and give your body some essential movement is with the help of a standing desk. A standing desk is constructed to elevate your workspace so you can stand while working. With so many health issues that develop from sitting too much, a standing desk can help decrease those risks.

There is a lot to look for when selecting which desk is suitable for you. You’ll want to research the ease of adjustment, stability, and height range before making a purchase.

FEZIBO Height Adjustable Electric Standing Desk

Electric lift system for easy transitions.

Take the Stairs

One of the easiest ways to exercise in your day is by skipping the elevator and taking the stairs instead. Pressing a button won’t burn any calories, but going up a flight of stairs sure will.

Whether you’re going out to grab lunch or taking that much-needed walk on break, always take the stairs. It’s a practical and convenient way to get your body moving.

Consider Using an Under-Desk Bike

If your day is jam-packed with meetings and lots of time at your desk, one of the best ways to ensure you get exercise while at your desk is with the help of an under-desk bike. They take up a small amount of space, give you a great workout (while sitting), and some designs come with a quiet setting for shared spaces.

Using an under-desk bike is as simple as setting your preferred resistance and slipping your feet into the pedals. From there, it’s all about spinning those feet all while answering phone calls and replying to emails.

Niceday Under Desk Bike

Noiseless with magnetic controls.

Take Your Lunch Break Outside

Getting fresh air is important, but for some of us, there are only a few seasons out of the year when this is comfortable. If it’s beautiful and you’ve got twenty minutes to spare, take your lunch outdoors.

Business Insider says eating your lunch outdoors can help with stress levels, creativity, and thinking. Even on the busiest days, you’ll find that getting a little hint of nature in your day will boost your mood and help more than eating at your desk.

Koccido Bento Box Lunch Box

Gorgeous, functional, and perfect for taking your lunch outside.

Plus, you are already outdoors, so if you finish your lunch quickly, you can take the extra time to get a walk in. Between hearing those birds chirp and feeling the sun rays on your face, you’ll love the mini time-out and exercise break.

Invest in a Smart Watch

No wonder everyone seems to have a smartwatch, considering all the benefits they bring to the table. Regular watches may tell you the time, but smartwatches will help set reminders (for those micro-breaks) and remind you to get those steps in.

The built-in pedometer will track steps, heart rate, calories, and even distance to smash your fitness goals while working a desk job. Plus, if you’re on a break taking a walk at work, you’ll get notifications sent to your watch for important emails, calls, and messages.

Staying healthy while working at a desk can be challenging, but with the right tips and tools, you will have no trouble staying active throughout your day.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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