Ways To Exercise While You're At The Office

If you work a standard nine-to-five desk job, you probably know the struggle of staying in shape as you go about your day-to-day. Sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week isn't exactly conducive to an active lifestyle, and you probably find yourself getting your fitness on outside the office — maybe you regularly head to the gym after work every day, or you're an avid hiker on the weekends. But what if we told you there's a way to get some exercise in while you're at the office? 


We know what you're thinking. Your office doesn't have a gym, and your boss won't like it if you start doing step aerobics in the lounge. We're not going to advise you to bring your whole home gym setup to work with you (actually, we advise against it). But there are some really easy ways to help yourself stay in shape while at your desk job. Whether you decide to do exercises in your chair, choose to walk everywhere, or get the whole office in on it, you're about to find that it's easier to sneak in some exercise than you think. Here are 12 of our favorite ways to exercise while you're at the office. 

Get a standing desk

We'd be surprised if you haven't already considered getting a standing desk for your workspace. Standing desks are one of the simplest ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, purely because you burn more calories standing (100-200 per hour) than sitting (60-130), according to Healthline. Aside from the calories burned, there are lots of other benefits standing desks can have for your body. They'll help improve your posture because you're less likely to slouch, and standing all day can help strengthen your muscles.


Don't want to stand all day, every day? With a good standing desk, you shouldn't have to. When you're shopping for your standing desk, look for one that can adjust its height with the push of a button. This way, you can stand most of the time without having to find a totally different workspace when you want to sit. If an easily adjustable desk is out of budget, look for a high stool with a back that you can sit on when your feet need breaks throughout the day. Anti-fatigue mats are also a great investment if you're considering a standing desk, as they'll keep your feet from getting uncomfortable too quickly. 

Sit on an exercise ball

Some of us just can't stand all day. Maybe you have a chronic (or temporary) knee condition, ankle condition, or other condition that makes it difficult to stand for too long. Or maybe you just don't want to stand all day — no shade for that! Whatever your reasons for not wanting to stand may be, there are still ways to get your office fitness in while remaining seated. One of our favorite ways to do this is by replacing your office chair with a the right fitness ball


Why do we love fitness balls? Well, they help you stay in shape without putting in much conscious effort, for one. Staying put on an exercise ball requires balance, and as you work to keep your balance, your core can get a serious workout. Working out your core can also help reduce back pain as your core muscles are strengthened, and it'll help you maintain good posture, as well. When looking for an exercise ball, make sure you get one high enough to support you at your desk — you may find yourself needing a slightly lower desk to make this possible. 

Practice seated yoga poses

If you ever find yourself inexplicably sore during your day of sitting at your desk, this next tip is for you. When you sit in the same position for too long or maintain poor posture for an extended period of time, it's easy for your muscles to become fatigued and tense up. When you notice this happening, doing some seated yoga poses can help get the blood flowing again and mitigate those little aches and pains you experience throughout the day. 


When it comes to seated yoga stretches for flexibility, you're looking for ones that stretch your core and back muscles. Seated cow and cat poses are great options to start with. When sitting in a chair, bring your spine to a neutral position; then, interlock your fingers and press your palms out in front of you while hunching your back and bringing your chin toward your chest. Hold that pose for a few seconds, then do it in reverse: Interlock your fingers behind your back and press your palms out away from you while arching your back and looking up toward the ceiling. Side stretches are another great seated yoga pose option. Turn one knee out and place your foot flat on the floor so your knee is at a 90-degree angle. Rest your elbow on your knee and stretch the opposite arm up and over your head while straightening your other leg. Repeat on both sides. 


Walk to get lunch

If you tend to pack your work lunches, we applaud and admire you. For many of us, though, the hustle and bustle leaves too little energy to even think about the next day's lunch, let alone prepare it in advance. Come lunchtime the next day, our stomachs are growling and we've nothing else to do but rely on Uber Eats for sustenance. No shame if this sounds like your typical routine — in fact, it just presents another opportunity to get some exercise in at the office. 


The next time you forget (or just don't want) to pack lunch, instead of ordering in, why not walk somewhere to get it? The walk could be as short as across the street to your favorite deli to sit down with a sandwich. If you have a longer lunch break, make a little outing out of it by walking somewhere a few blocks away. Even if your lunch break isn't super long, it might be possible on some days to take a long walk to pick up lunch, then just bring it back and eat at your desk. Or, maybe there aren't really any good food options in the vicinity. If that's the case, take your packed lunch on a little walk and find somewhere to sit outside and eat. This is also a great opportunity to turn it into some social time by inviting your coworkers to come along, as well. 


Take walks around the office

Odds are you don't have to be at your desk for the entirety of your job. Maybe you spend lots of time on the phone, reading documents, or doing other tasks that don't require you to be in front of the computer. If this is the case for you, try incorporating little movement snacks into your day. These are small periods of time when you get up and go for a walk, stretch, or get movement in some other way. 


If you're lucky enough to have an office with a door, pace back and forth across your office the next time you're on a long phone call. You could take a 10-minute break every hour and go for a walk around the office building. If you spend lots of time reading physical documents (or documents on a tablet), read them while walking around — just make sure you're not in a heavy-traffic part of the office and that you won't run into any obstacles. 

Get an under-desk treadmill

Want to stay really active through your workday? Getting a standing desk is a good first step, but to go the extra mile (pun intended), you might find yourself wanting to invest in an under-desk elliptical or treadmill (sometimes called a walking pad). Under-desk treadmills are a great, almost mindless way to exercise throughout your day — put it on a low speed and walk as you type, make phone calls, or even get on Zoom.


If space is a concern for you, most under-desk treadmills are compact enough to keep out of the way. Some even fold up and can get pretty compact. Walking is a great low-intensity exercise, and if you use an under-desk treadmill for most of the day, you might find yourself needing more sustenance than normal. Try keeping some healthy snacks handy, like fruit, nuts, or trail mix to ensure you don't get dizzy or lightheaded. 

Or a mini stationary bike

Don't love the idea of standing at a standing desk or walking on an under-desk treadmill all day? Another active in-office exercise option is a mini stationary bike. These are great options for those whose knees can't hold much weight for too long or anyone who just prefers to remain seated throughout the day. Pedaling is a great calorie-burner, and when you get a mini stationary bike that has resistance options, it can really help you build some muscle, too.


When it comes to mini stationary bikes, you can get one like the one pictured above that comes with a standard bike seat. If you find bike seats tend to be uncomfortable, get a mini stationary bike that just has pedals. This will let you stay active while sitting in your favorite office chair. We also love pedal-only mini stationary bikes because they tend to be pretty compact and are easy enough to store under your desk at the office. You could probably find one small enough to carry between home and the office, too. If you're going to invest in a mini stationary bike or walking pad, we recommend keeping a pair of sneakers (or your favorite workout shoes) at the office to ensure your feet have the proper support while you're getting your workout on. 


Do it with the rest of the office

Sure, you can exercise at the office on your own, but wouldn't it be more fun if you got your coworkers in on it? Exercising at the office with your coworkers is a great way to not only make exercise time more enjoyable, but it's also a great way to hold each other accountable to getting your office fitness time in. You could get the whole office together, or just pick your favorite coworker to take walking and stretching breaks with. Exercising together can be helpful if you're passionate about making friends in the workplace, too.


If you want to really go hard with your office exercise time, have a chat with your boss or supervisor about it. Explain that you think you and your coworkers would benefit from some active time in the office, and propose having a short staff workout time for about 10 minutes at the beginning of each work day. You could also easily incorporate exercises into already existing office routines. For example, if you have a daily office meeting, suggest stretching together for a couple of minutes at the beginning and end of the meeting. Of course, you don't have to formalize office exercise time, but doing so could help make it a healthy routine not only for you but for your coworkers, as well. 

Flex while you work

Maybe you really think it's absolutely impossible for you to get in exercise throughout the day. Your job really is all-consuming, and you can't rely on having time away from your desk throughout the day. If this sounds like you, we have something very simple that anybody and everybody can do to help maintain their fitness at work: flex your muscles. That's right, the practice you might see as showoff-y on social media can actually help you stay in shape at work. 


Healthline notes that, while flexing your muscles doesn't do a ton to strengthen them, it's a great option if you're recovering from an injury or find it otherwise difficult to engage in exercises that use certain muscle groups. If you're able to incorporate resistance into your workday flexing (by using resistance bands, for example), that will help build some muscle strength. You could also utilize exercises that incorporate resistance via your body weight — for example, practice a minute-long wall-sit every hour, or adopt a plank position while working from your laptop on the floor. 

Walk when you want to talk

How many times throughout the day do you have meetings with office coworkers via Zoom or an across-the-desk chat? There's certainly nothing wrong with sitting down to meet with your boss or coworker about something, and sometimes it may even be necessary, especially if note-taking is involved or you need to look at something on a computer screen together. On the other hand, if your meeting is about brainstorming, discussing ideas, or will be otherwise talk-based, why not walk around the office while you talk?


Walking around during meetings or chats with a coworker is a great way to get some steps in at the office. If your office is small and you're worried you'll disturb other coworkers, do double duty and make your walking-around time outside time as well by taking a walk around the block or even just the office parking lot. You don't have to walk for the entirety of the meeting, either — if you tend to start your office meetings with a bit of catch-up time, just do a brief 10-minute walk around the office with a coworker at the beginning of your meeting. 

Focus on your posture

When you find that most of your days are spent sitting at a desk, practicing proper posture is crucial to your overall health and fitness. Improper posture — for example, from hunching over your keyboard, crossing your legs all day, or craning your neck to see your screen — can lead to long-term discomfort, like pain in your back, neck, shoulder, or hips. It's often hard to remember to keep good posture throughout the day, though. A busy day can find you suddenly and unintentionally hunching over your keyboard as you problem-solve, and your posture is probably the last thing on your mind. 


Luckily for you, there are a few different things you can do to help you maintain correct posture throughout the day. A few environmental changes could help: Ensure your computer screen is straight in front of you so you don't have to look up or down to see it, and make sure your chair is high enough that your arms don't have to bend too much to reach your keyboard. You could also wear a posture corrector, which helps you maintain a straight spine throughout the day. Pay attention to how your body feels and where you're noticing aches and pains — your body is good at telling you when and where you need to adjust your posture throughout the day. 

Don't take shortcuts

Nowadays, we tend to use shortcuts anytime we can. We order food instead of picking it up, we order groceries instead of shopping for them, and we grab the parking spot as close to the store as we can find. If you work in an office building, you probably find yourself using a lot of shortcuts there, as well. Maybe you park on the ground level of the parking garage or you take the elevator up to your floor.


Skipping these shortcuts is an ultra-easy way to incorporate exercise into your already-existing routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator to walk up to your floor, and park as far away from the office as you can. Do you work on the 12th floor of a building and just don't want to walk up that many flights of stairs? You don't have to — just walk up two or three, and take the elevator from there.  Either way, it's a surefire way to get some more exercise in than you would otherwise.