You spend about 2400 minutes a week at work: Make some of those minutes do double-duty with our 8 ways to exercise at work.

The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week, but for some busy people, fitting that time in might be easier said than done. There are any number of reasons why people can find it hard to fit exercise in: tight, chaotic schedules; care-giving or childcare responsibilities right before and after work; secondary jobs; fatigue, etc. … good intentions can easily fall by the wayside. But the average worker spends about 2,400 minutes a week at work – why not harness some of that time to do double duty? Injecting some exercise into your workday will boost your energy, sharpen your focus, improve your health and help reduce the risks for diabetes and chronic disease.

Here are a 8 ideas for ways to exercise at work:

1. Start with your commute. Why wait until you get to work, your commute is a part of your workday. If you typically drive or take a bus or train, try walking or biking at least a few days of the week. If the distance is too far for that to be practical, then try parking further from your workplace or walk to a commuting station a stop or two away just to get a little exercise in at the start and finish of your day. See our post why you may want to rethink your commute to work. And once you get to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator.

2. Watch your posture at your workstation. Poor posture can increase fatigue and strain your muscles. Sit tall. Be sure the monitor and keyboard are in alignment and that you aren’t forced into awkward or straining positions to reach your tools. See this handy guide from OSHA on good working positions.

3. Set your phone to alert you every 20-30 minutes to take a quick stretch break at your desk or workstation. This is good for your body and also for your eye health. Try neck rolls and torso twists. The Mayo Clinic offers a slide show of easy office stretches. 

4. Take active cardio breaks. In addition to stretch breaks, you may want to add another five minutes of more intensive activity every hour or two. Do stair challenges or deskercizes that can be done in a small space. Healthier America suggests 15 great ways to deskercise and check out this infographic from the Washington Post on 12 exercises for a workout at work that offers animated illustrations and rates each exercise for difficulty, sweat factor and humiliation factor, or how silly you may feel performing the exercise in front of colleagues!

5. Research work-station equipment that will keep you moving. Look into balance balls or balance ball chairs as an occasional alternative to chairs. There are a variety of under-the-desk steppers or mini elliptical devices that will keep you active. Adjustable desktops are available that will allow you to convert your standard sitting desk to a standing desk, and back again. Keep weights and resistance bands tucked away in a drawer for your exercise breaks.

6. Convert sedentary meetings to “walk and talk” meetings. Many workers spend way too much time sitting in meetings. Walking and talking can keep the meeting active and efficient. See our prior post on the benefits that walking meetings can bring to your workplace.

7. Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work. One study reported on by the New York Times showed that frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work: “When the workers rose most often, they reported greater happiness, less fatigue and considerably less craving for food than on either of the other days. Their feelings of vigor also tended to increase throughout the day, while they often had plateaued by early afternoon after walking only once in the morning.” Research shows that when sitting at work, you burn about 20 calories for every quarter hour; standing adds another 8 or 9 calories to the burn; walking effectively burns about three times as many calories as sitting or standing.

8. Use part of your lunch for more intensive workouts. Throw some casual clothes in a gym bag so that you can be ready for a lunchtime power walk or a full workout. Our post on getting fit & losing weight trucker style shows that with practice, you get a more intensive workout in almost any time or any where. You can also start or join a lunchtime exercise group for walks, aerobics, yoga, other fitness activities.

Pro tip: Music helps with motivation. Studies show that walkers who listen to music walk longer than those who don’t. Just be careful that for safety reasons, your music isn’t so loud that it doesn’t drown out ambient sound.


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