Office exercise: Add more activity to your workday
Too much sitting and too little exercise is bad for your health. So get off your seat and make physical activity — from fitness breaks to walking meetings — part of your daily routine.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. Why not work out while you work? Consider 10 ways to add physical activity to your workday routine.
1. Start with your commute
Walk or bike to work. If you ride the bus or the subway, get off a few blocks early or at an earlier stop than usual and walk the rest of the way. If you drive to work, park at the far end of the parking lot — or park in a nearby lot. In your building, take the stairs rather than the elevator.
2. Stand up and work
Look for ways to get out of your chair. Stand and walk while talking on the phone. Or try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter. Eat lunch standing up. If possible, skip instant messaging and email, and instead walk to a colleague's desk for a face-to-face chat.
3. Take fitness breaks
Rather than hanging out in the lounge with coffee or a snack, take a brisk walk, hike a few flights of stairs or do some gentle stretching. For example, face straight ahead, then lower your chin to your chest. Or, while standing, grab the back of one of your ankles — or your pant leg — and bring it up toward your buttock. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
4. Bring a fitness ball to work
Consider trading your desk chair for a firmly inflated fitness or stability ball, as long as you're able to safely balance on the ball. You'll improve your balance and tone your core muscles while sitting at your desk. Use the fitness ball for wall squats or other exercises during the day. Keep in mind that in some cases, an office chair may be more appropriate.
5. Keep fitness gear at work
Store resistance bands — stretchy cords or tubes that offer weight-like resistance when you pull on them — or small hand weights in a desk drawer or cabinet. Do arm curls between meetings or tasks.
May 10, 2017
See more In-depth
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed Nov. 10, 2016.
- Get moving: Easy tips to get active! American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Get-moving-Where-do-I-start_UCM_307978_Article.jsp. Accessed Nov. 10, 2016.
- Armiger P, et al. Stretching programs for the whole body. In: Stretching for Functional Flexibility. Philadelphia, Pa.: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2010.
- Koepp GA, et al. Treadmill desks: A 1-year prospective trial. Obesity. 2013;21:705.
- Hensrud DD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 30, 2017.
- Lowe BD, et al. Unstable sitting in the workplace — Are there physical activity benefits? American Journal of Health Promotion. 2015;29:207.