10 Ways to Stay Active When You're Stuck at Work
If you work a desk job, you might feel like you spend more time on your bum than on your feet.
Squeezing in a workout — like going for a walk on your lunch break or doing a barre workout when you get home — can help you feel less sedentary. It can also help salvage your abysmal step count after staring at a computer for eight hours. (984 steps? Really?)
But what happens when you have to work through lunch or stay late at the office — and suddenly there’s no time for a workout? If you’re stuck at your desk, here are 10 easy ways to stay active.
1. Try the Surrender Exercise
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands behind your head.
- Keeping your back flat and core engaged, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower into a squat position.
- Take a step back with your right foot, and gently lower your right knee to the floor. Do the same with your left knee so you’re in a high kneeling position.
- Engage your core as you lift your right knee and bring your right foot forward, planting it on the floor.
- Keep your chest up and your shoulders back as you drive through the heel of your right foot, lift your left knee, and step your left foot forward into a low squat.
- Step your left foot back and gently lower your left knee to the floor. Do the same with your right knee.
- Lift your left knee and plant your left foot. Drive through your left heel and step your right foot forward into a low squat.
- Continue alternating legs. Return to a standing position once complete.
2. Try a Treadmill Desk
A treadmill desk lets you walk at a slow pace while still staying productive at work. It’s not exactly a high-intensity workout — you probably can’t type and sprint at the same time — but it’s better than sitting still.
3. Take Your Meetings To Go
When you need to meet one-on-one with a coworker, walk around the office rather than sitting in the conference room. “As long as your meeting doesn’t require technology, it’s a great way to get exercise while still accomplishing work tasks,” says Lynell Ross, CPT, Certified Health and Wellness Coach at Zivadream.
4. Do Wall Sits
When you’re stuck on a long phone call, try doing the wall sit exercise instead of simply sitting at a desk, suggests Norkor Omaboe, CSCS, strength coach and registered yoga instructor.
5. Take the Stairs
You’ve probably heard this suggestion a million times, but that’s because it’s one of the easiest ways to stay active when you’re stuck at work. “Once an hour, sneak out and walk the stairs in your building,” suggests Robin Legat, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, SGX L2. (If your building doesn’t have stairs, she recommends getting up every hour and walking 250 steps.)
6. Keep Dumbbells At Your Desk
Legat suggests storing a small set of dumbbells at your desk. This vinyl-coated set won’t clank together, so you can sneak in a quick set of tricep extensions or bicep curls while you’re sitting on a conference call.
7. Swap Your Chair for a Stability Ball
Stability balls require you to maintain your balance, which is great for strengthening your core, says Sabrina Correia, ACE-certified personal trainer. (Here’s how to choose the best stability ball for the office.)
8. Talk to Coworkers IRL
Instead of using Slack, email, or texting, head over to your coworker’s desk to relay a message or ask a question. Every step counts — and it’s nice to see a face instead of a screen once in a while!
9. Use the Farthest Bathroom
Instead of making a beeline for the most convenient bathroom, head to one farther away (or on a different floor) so you can squeeze a few more active minutes into your day.
10. Stretch Out
If you’ve been hunched over a keyboard all day, do a few gentle neck stretches. But don’t stop there — take a few minutes to stretch out from head to toe. Need some inspiration? These wall stretches will help you ease tension all over.