Staying active during the workday can be a challenge for people who sit at a desk all day. This is especially true on days when you’re so busy it feels like there’s rarely an opportunity to look away from your computer, much less get up and move around.
Luckily, there are so many ways to stay active in the office, even if you can’t manage to leave your desk. Check out these stretching and movement ideas from ergonomic pros, fitness experts and health advocates.
Subtly Boost Your Burn
“Add extra resistance to your movement, turning that quick walk from your desk to your printer into an opportunity to tone and burn. You can wear discreet ankle weights or body weights.”
– Frank Yao, Co-Founder and CEO of Physiclo
Do a Water Challenge
“Challenge yourself to drink ten 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day. Not only will you have to continually get up and refill your water, you’ll need to head to the bathroom too. Added bonus: Drinking water is great for you, so you’re kind of winning on all fronts.”
– Amina AlTai, Owner of Busy Happy Healthy
Track your water intake easily — log it with MyFitnessPal
Set Your Activity Tracker
“The best way to start keeping yourself more accountable for your activity level is to get an activity tracker. You can set your tracker to vibrate on your wrist to remind you that you’ve been sitting too long and it is time to get up and move.”
– Mandy McClellan, Accessories Buyer for Fit2Run, The Runner’s Superstore
Do a Desk Workout
Try this desk workout from Meghan Kennihan, NASM Personal Trainer.
1. Desk Pushups: Great for toning the arms. Place your hands on your desk, walk your feet back to a 45-degree angle and do 10-15 pushups.
2. Shoulder Squeeze: Helps prevent the hunched posture. Pretend there’s a pencil between your shoulder blades, squeeze them together, and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat 10x.
3. Sit n’ Stands: Tones your legs and butt. Stand in front of your chair and lower yourself down until you butt hits the edge of the chair and stand back up. Repeat 20x
4. Desk Dips: Perfect for the backside of your arms, triceps. Face away from your desk and place your hands shoulder with apart with fingers facing you, legs extended. Dip down until your elbows make a 90-degree angle; press back up 10 t0 15 times.
5. Wall Sit: Stand against the wall and slide down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle and directly over your ankles. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat 5x.
Or Do a Desk Stretch
I shared my favorite desk stretches with TextBooks.com, all of which can be done without leaving your seat to avoid calling attention to yourself. The five stretches to try are:
- Wrist Stretch
- Neck Stretch
- Hamstring and Quad Stretch
- Spinal Twist
- Shoulder Stretch
See all of these demonstrated in 5 Most Important Desk Stretches for People Who Sit All Day.
Start Delivering “In-Person Emails”
“Visit a colleague’s desk to deliver a message instead of sending an email. The trip will get you out of your desk chair and give you a fun, social reason to walk around the office. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of some face time with a colleague, who will also appreciate the break from emails!”
– Eve Martin, CEO and Founder of Elm Tree Medical Inc
Set Rules That Motivate Movement
“Cut off taking advantage of workplace supplies at noon—so that you have to leave and go get a snack or coffee from somewhere further away from your workstation.”
– Katie Johnson, Outreach and PR Strategist for StandDesk.co
Listen to Your Body
“Remember, we are trying to replicate the experience of working in the fields or factory without all the heavy lifting and sweating. If you have an adjustable desk you can listen to your body and you can move periodically throughout the day. You now have the freedom to move when it is convenient and when your body tells you that you need to.
Stand for a few minutes when you get to your desk after a long commute. Stand while you take a phone call. Stand after lunch to help maintain your focus and avoid the afternoon crash. Stand when your back feels a little tight or your neck is stiff. Adjustments give you freedom and that is good for your body and your mind!”
– What You Should Know Before You Take a Stand, Workrite