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How to Get Moving and Stay Active When Working a Desk Job

How to Get Moving and Stay Active When Working a Desk Job

The Problem with Desk Jobs

Working a desk job can be very convenient for many people, providing them with stability, comfort, and an opportunity to earn a decent income. However, according to statistics, desk jobs are also one of the leading causes of a sedentary lifestyle, which can result in numerous health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and low energy levels. Sitting for prolonged periods can also lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain, making it difficult to concentrate and complete your daily tasks.

The Good News

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for those who work a desk job. There are ways to get moving and stay active even when spending most of your day in a seated position. Here are some tips:

  • Take breaks regularly
  • Stretch your muscles
  • Move your body
  • Consciously add activity to your day
  • Create a wellness-friendly workspace

1. Take Breaks Regularly

Sitting for hours on end can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing. Taking regular breaks improves circulation, helps reduce muscle stiffness, and increases your mental clarity.

Set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to take a five-minute break every hour. During this time, stand up from your desk, walk around or stretch your body. Consider a short walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

2. Stretch Your Muscles

Your muscles can quickly become stiff when sitting for extended periods of time, causing back and neck pain. Stretching your muscles is essential, combined with getting up from your desk and walking around.

Try these exercises, which you can do even in a small office or cubicle:

  • Shoulder rolls (roll each shoulder forward and backward ten times)
  • Neck stretches (look up, down, left, and right for five to ten seconds each)
  • Hamstring stretches (extend one leg out and touch your toes for 20 seconds on each side)
  • Deep knee bends (stand, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground, and then straighten your legs ten times)

3. Move Your Body

After a long day sitting, your body needs some exercise and movement to get the blood pumping and energy flowing.

Consider incorporating the following exercises into your day:

  • Take a 20-minute walk during your lunch break
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Do push-ups, squats, and crunches during 10-15 minute viewing breaks if you watch TV, rest or read
  • Dance or do yoga before or after work
  • Stand while you work or use a standing desk

4. Consciously Add Activity to Your Day

There are many ways to add physical activity to your day, even when working a desk job. For instance, instead of sending an email to your colleague, walk over to their office and talk to them face to face. If you need to make a phone call, consider walking around the office while you talk rather than sitting down. At the end of the day, park your car further away so that you have to walk farther to get to the office.

5. Create a Wellness-Friendly Workspace

Creating a wellness-friendly workspace can help you move more, which is essential for a sedentary lifestyle. Consider investing in the following ergonomic equipment:

  • An adjustable stand-up desk
  • An ergonomic office chair
  • An anti-fatigue mat to place under your feet for cushioned comfort
  • A fitness ball as an alternative to your chair to work on your balance


Working a desk job doesn’t have to be sedentary. The steps above will enable you to take charge of your wellbeing despite spending the majority of your day seated. By adding activity into your day, improving your posture, and investing in ergonomic equipment, you can reduce the adverse effects of sitting for long periods giving you more energy and a happier, healthy mind and body.

FAQ: How to Get Moving and Stay Active When Working a Desk Job

Q: Why is it important to stay active while working a desk job?

A: Sitting for long periods of time can have negative effects on our health such as weight gain, decreased muscle tone, and poor posture. Staying active can help mitigate these negative effects and improve overall physical and mental health.

Q: How often should I move during the workday?

A: It is recommended to move every 30 minutes. This can be as simple as standing up and stretching or taking a quick lap around the office.

Q: What are some exercises I can do at my desk?

A: There are many exercises that can be done at a desk such as chair squats, leg raises, and desk push-ups. Search for “desk exercises” online for more ideas.

Q: Are there any apps or tools to help me stay active during the workday?

A: Yes, there are several apps such as Stand Up! and DeskActive that remind you to take breaks and provide exercise routines specifically designed for the workplace. You can also set alarms or use a timer on your phone to remind you to move every 30 minutes.

Q: Can I still stay active if I have a lot of work to do?

A: Yes, there are ways to incorporate physical activity into your workday without sacrificing productivity. Try using a standing desk, taking walking meetings, or doing desk exercises during breaks.

Q: How can I encourage my coworkers to stay active during the workday?

A: Try starting a workplace wellness program or challenge, suggest taking walking breaks together, or even just leading by example can encourage others to prioritize physical activity in the workplace.

Q: What are some other benefits of staying active during the workday?

A: Staying active can increase productivity, energy levels, and overall mood, as well as reduce stress and improve focus and concentration.

Q: Are there any risks to standing or moving more during the workday?

A: While movement is generally beneficial, standing or moving for too long in improper positions can lead to muscle fatigue or strain. Be sure to take breaks and vary your movements.

Q: What if I have an injury or medical condition that limits my ability to move during the workday?

A: Communicate with your healthcare provider and employer to find alternative solutions that can accommodate your needs while still promoting physical activity.

Q: Can staying active during the workday replace regular exercise?

A: While staying active during the workday can have benefits, it should not replace regular exercise. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week in addition to staying active during the workday.

Related Products for Staying Active at Work

  • Standing Desk Converter

    A standing desk converter is an adjustable platform that sits on top of your existing desk, allowing you to stand while you work. This can help improve posture, reduce back pain, and increase energy levels throughout the day.

  • Under Desk Elliptical

    An under desk elliptical provides a low-impact way to exercise while sitting at your desk. This can help increase circulation, burn calories, and boost mental clarity throughout the day.

  • Balance Ball Chair

    A balance ball chair is a chair that sits on top of a stability ball, which forces you to engage your core muscles while sitting. This can improve posture, reduce back pain, and increase focus throughout the day.

  • Resistance Bands

    Resistance bands are portable and versatile, allowing you to exercise almost anywhere. They can be used to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and increase circulation throughout the day.

  • Treadmill Desk

    A treadmill desk is a desk that sits on top of a treadmill, allowing you to walk while you work. This can help increase physical activity, burn calories, and improve mental clarity throughout the day.

  • Yoga Mat

    A yoga mat is a versatile tool that can be used for stretching, core workouts, and yoga poses. It can help improve flexibility, reduce stress, and increase energy levels throughout the day.

  • Adjustable Kettlebell

    An adjustable kettlebell provides a convenient way to strength train at work. It can help build muscle, increase metabolism, and improve overall physical fitness throughout the day.

  • Foam Roller

    A foam roller can be used for self-massage, stretching, and muscle recovery. It can help reduce stress, increase circulation, and improve physical performance throughout the day.

  • Resistance Loop Bands

    Resistance loop bands are a more targeted version of resistance bands, providing a way to strengthen muscles in specific areas. They can help improve posture, reduce pain, and increase flexibility throughout the day.

  • Air Purifier

    An air purifier can help remove allergens, pollutants, and other contaminants from the air. This can help improve respiratory health, increase focus, and reduce stress throughout the day.

  • Wireless Earbuds

    Wireless earbuds can help make it easier to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks while staying active at work. They can also help reduce distractions and increase focus throughout the day.

  • Massage Chair Pad

    A massage chair pad can provide targeted massage therapy to help reduce muscle tension, pain, and stress. It can also provide a relaxing break during the workday to help increase overall productivity.

Pros & Cons of Getting Moving and Staying Active When Working a Desk Job


  • Improved Physical Health: Engaging in physical activity during the workday can lead to a variety of physical health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, weight management, and boosted energy levels.
  • Increased Productivity: Regular physical activity has been shown to boost cognitive function and focus, leading to increased productivity during work hours.
  • Reduced Stress: Exercise has been shown to decrease stress hormones such as cortisol, leaving you feeling more relaxed and focused during the workday.
  • Improved Mood: Exercise has been shown to promote the release of endorphins, which can boost mood and leave you feeling more positive throughout the day.
  • Better Sleep: Regular exercise can lead to improved sleep quality, helping you feel more rested and refreshed each day.


  • Takes Time: Engaging in physical activity during the workday requires time and effort, which may not be feasible for everyone.
  • Requires Planning: Planning physical activity into the workday requires careful scheduling and coordination, especially if you have a busy work schedule.
  • Can be Disruptive: Depending on the type and intensity of physical activity, it could be disruptive to colleagues in the workplace.
  • Risk of Injury: Engaging in physical activity during the workday comes with a risk of injury, particularly if you are new to exercise or engage in high-impact activities.
  • Requires Motivation: Staying consistent with physical activity during the workday requires motivation and dedication, which may not come naturally for everyone.

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