You probably sit a lot and rarely move more during the workday. In fact, one survey found that the average American spends 13 hours each day sitting—and nine of those hours are spent at work. A sedentary lifestyle can have serious implications for your health, so it’s critical to make every effort to move more throughout the day. These eight tips will help you fight desk job fatigue and keep your body moving.
Use a standing desk when possible.
If possible, use a standing desk. This is a great way to get in extra steps throughout the day and eliminate some sitting time. Many companies have started using adjustable desks (the kind that can also be used for sitting), so it’s worth asking if your office provides these, and if not, whether you can bring your own to work.
Your body will adjust over time, but at first you may experience back pain or leg cramps in the adjustment period. Listen to what feels right for your body: If you need to sit after standing for an hour or two, go ahead and do so! And if you can only stand up while working part of the time, that’s totally okay! It’s better than just sitting all day long.
If you don’t have access to an adjustable desk, there are still ways to incorporate standing into your workday. For example, consider raising your computer monitor on a high table or box so that when you stand up it’s at eye level and you’re able to type comfortably without hunching over; then sit down when necessary.
Stand up and move around for at least two minutes every hour.
For this tip, set a timer on your phone or use an app like StandApp to remind you every hour. When it beeps, stand up and walk around the office for at least two minutes—or outside if it’s nice out! You can take a quick lap around the building or simply walk around your floor. Do some arm circles and leg stretches while you’re up.
Park farther away from the office so you have to walk further to get to the door.
You should try to do at least 30 minutes of brisk walking a day, but you don’t have to do it all at once. The more you walk, the better it is for your health. Try doing three 10-minute walks each day, or one 10-minute walk in the morning and another later in the afternoon.
Put on your favorite music or podcast and enjoy the scenery. If you must use a phone while walking, be sure to stay aware of your surroundings. Get creative about finding ways to move throughout your workday: Park farther away from the office so you have to walk further to get to the door. Ride your bike instead of driving if traffic is light or there is a bike path nearby. Use stairs instead of elevators and escalators whenever possible (and safe).
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Take the stairs. If your office is in a building with multiple floors, make the choice to take the stairs instead of using the elevator or escalator. Even if you work on a high floor, this can be a great way to increase your activity during the day—you simply have to take it one step at a time. For example:
- If your office is on the first floor, walk up to the second floor every day.
- If your office is on the second floor, walk up to the third floor every day.
- If your office is on the third floor, walk up to the fourth floor every day.
Set reminders on your phone to encourage you to move more throughout the day.
Set reminders on your phone to encourage you to move more throughout the day. You can set alarms for every hour or when lunchtime arrives. If you have a meeting, conference call, or other long-sitting event coming up, schedule a reminder to get up and stretch before and after it. If you’re really ambitious, you can set reminders for specific tasks like calling your mom or checking your email so that you use it as an opportunity to stand or walk around.
If your office has a gym, go there during breaks.
When you’re at work and you have a spare half hour or so, why not take advantage of an on-site gym? These are typically equipped with everything from treadmills, stationary bikes, weight machines, and free weights to basketball courts, rock climbing walls, boxing rings, and indoor pools. With so many options available in one space (many of them more exciting than the average workout), you can easily switch things up to keep your workouts varied. And if you’re the social type who likes to grab a drink after work or catch up with friends during a yoga class, it’s nice to be able to do that all at once when there are other people available to join in.
Offer to take a walk with co-workers while discussing a project or brainstorming an idea.
If you work in a building with a few floors, taking the stairs is another great way to add more of an impact to your lifestyle. Research shows that going up and down flights of stairs just four to six times a day can improve fitness.
Take a walking meeting instead of sitting in a conference room.
Take a walking meeting instead of sitting in a conference room. When you move, you get the added benefits of fresh air and a change of scenery, which can help you think more clearly and creatively. You’ll also get to know your colleagues better, which can help you build stronger relationships with them. If anyone protests that they’re too busy to take extra time for a walk, remind them that studies have shown that walking while talking actually helps people remember details more accurately than sitting in an office chair.
The health benefits of being more active are amazing. They include:
- Better overall fitness
- Weight loss
- Improved strength and endurance
- Reduced risk for many diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes
- Reduced stress levels
But did you know that being more physically active during the day can also help make you a better worker? It can improve your memory and help you be more alert. It can even aid with problem solving! That’s because movement boosts circulation to your brain, bringing it oxygen-rich blood.