How to stay active at work, even with a desk job

by Kaiser Permanente |
Woman wearing a blue shirt stretches arms while sitting down inside a cubicle

If you’re desk-bound at work, it’s probably tough to get enough movement throughout the day. You may have even heard that sitting is the new smoking — that’s because when you sit all day, the inactivity could lead to back and joint pain and more serious problems like high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

If you think a quick trip to the gym after sitting all day at work is a total fix, we’ve got some bad news for you.

"Our bodies are designed to move, so even regular exercise isn’t going to counteract the damaging effects of sitting at your desk all day," says Caroline King-Widdall, MD, a family medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Salem, Oregon.

Since quitting your job in favor of a more active lifestyle isn’t exactly a viable option, here are Dr. King-Widdall’s tips for getting more activity during the day:

  • If possible, work from a standing desk. If you don’t have one available to use, try standing more throughout the day — when you’re eating lunch or talking on the phone, for example.
  • Think outside the conference room. Suggest you and your colleagues or boss go for walking meetings. It’s also a good idea to get up and walk around a bit every hour at the office.
  • When you get home at night, instead of sinking into the couch to watch television, use an exercise ball to get some extra movement for the day.
  • Get an ergonomic assessment done on your desk and chair to make sure it’s adjusted to the correct height and to prevent possible aches and pains.
  • Wear a fitness tracker to track your steps and set goals for yourself. If you’re already standing more, you’ll likely end up taking more steps throughout the day.

Incorporate these habits into your daily routine to get your body moving throughout the workday and improve your overall health.