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How to Sneak Physical Activity into Your Sedentary Job

The dangers of sitting for the national average of 8 hours a day have been linked to everything from diabetes to back problems to varicose veins to depression.1,2 Inactivity is also linked to feeling more tired, so the more you sit, the more likely you are to feel fatigued.3 But how can you avoid falling into this trap when your job requires you do most of your work at a desk behind a computer screen?

Here are some easy ways to sneak physical activity into your day:

1. Use a standing desk.

  • Using a standing desk is a great way to increase circulation and burn additional calories. Some standing desk models have variable height options that let you switch back and forth between sitting and standing. However, many of these are rather pricey, so we like this model that can be built for under $25 from Ikea parts. Though it doesn’t have an adjustable height option, it is very lightweight and can be easily set up and taken down. We also recommend investing in an anti-fatigue mat so your feet and knees don’t bear unnecessary strain.4

​2. Add in more walking

  • Park further away from the entrance.
  • Take the long way around the office to get to the printer, your co-workers office, the bathroom, etc.
  • If your office has an elevator, buck the trend and take the stairs! And add in a few additional flights any time you have a break or are talking on your cell phone.

3. Sit on stability ball

  • Using a stability ball instead of a desk chair is a great way to engage your core muscles during the work day. Just make sure to sit up straight with your shoulders back! You can also sneak in a few rounds of sit-ups on the stability ball throughout the day.

4. Stretch

  • If you know you’re going to be seated for a good part of the day, make sure to get up and stretch your legs every 90 minutes. Make sure to stretch your upper body, neck and wrists too! This is good not only for your body, but for mental clarity as well.5

5. Include lunch hour fitness

  • Some work places offer walking groups, yoga classes or other in-office fitness options, but if yours doesn’t, don’t despair! Map out restaurants that are within walking distance, or find a co-worker that will join you for isometric exercises like planks, wall-sits, leg extensions and more.6 You can also invest in resistance bands and keep them stashed at your desk.


  1. Berkowitz, B., Clark, P., The Health Hazards of Sitting. Washington Post. January 20, 2014. Accessed February 22, 2017.
  2. Modest physical activity associated with improvement in markers, data suggests. Science Daily Website. Published January 26, 2017. Accessed February 23, 2017.
  3. Warner, Jennifer, Exercise Fights Fatigue, Boosts Energy, WebMD Website, November 3, 2006 Accessed January 31, 2017. 
  4. Smith, S., New study confirms benefits of anti-fatigue mats. EHS Today. Published October 4, 2012. Accessed February 24, 2017.
  5. Schwartz, T., The 90-Minute Solution: How building in periods of renewal can change your work and your life. Huffington Post. Published May 18, 2010. Accessed February 24, 2017.
  6. Isometric exercise and static strength training. Sports Fitness Advisor Website. Accessed February 24, 2017.

Photo by John M. See photo license.

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