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How to stay fit with a desk job in 8 healthy ways

A woman sitting on a stability ball while working at her desk.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes 

Many people spend eight or more hours five days per week sitting at a desk. It’s important to find ways to boost your physical activity during this time. 

As a certified personal trainer, here are my tips and tricks on how to stay fit with a desk job, including ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine and improve your eating habits at work. 

8 tips for sitting at a desk all day and staying healthy 

1. Invest in a standing desk.

It can be challenging to stay active while working in front of a screen for hours at a time. That's why I recommend getting a standing desk.  

Studies show you can burn about 50 calories more per hour when you’re standing rather than when you’re sitting. Standing can also help improve your posture. 

I suggest alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes to one hour to minimize the time you’re in your chair.  

2. Use portable exercise equipment at your desk.

If you want to take it one step further, I suggest investing in a piece of portable exercise equipment you can use at your desk.

Portable exercise equipment can include things like:

  • Stability balls.
  • Under-desk ellipticals.
  • Under-desk treadmills.
  • Under-desk bikes.

These fitness tools allow you to work different muscle groups throughout the day, which can help reduce the risk of health issues associated with prolonged sitting.

3. Do manual exercises at your desk. 

If you work in an office where exercise equipment isn’t available, or if you aren’t ready to invest in exercise equipment, you can also do some quick exercises at your desk to get your blood pumping. These exercises can include:

  • Leg lifts.
    • With your legs straight, lift one leg up to knee level and hold it there for eight seconds. Repeat with your other leg.
  • Shoulder raises.
    • Raise your arms straight up to shoulder level, palms facing forward. Lower your arms back down again and repeat.

  • Calf raises.
    • Stand up behind your chair and hold on to the back of it for support. Slowly raise your heels off the ground until you are standing on your toes. Hold for a few seconds and lower your feet back to the floor.

  • Desk push-ups.
    • Place your hands on the edge of your desk and push away from it, using your arms for support.
  • Wall sits.
    • Stand with your back against a wall and slide down into a seated position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before standing up again.
I suggest doing a quick exercise at your desk for a few minutes once every hour. 

4. Take mini-breaks throughout the day.

Just because you work at a desk doesn’t mean you’re glued to your chair all day. Get up and take a few mini-breaks throughout your workday. You can:

  • Take a short walk around the office.
  • Stretch at your desk.
  • Ask your co-workers to go grab a coffee with you.
  • Walk up and down the stairs a few times.

5. Do small things to get more steps in.

Finding ways to get more steps in throughout the day will contribute to your overall fitness. You can:

  • Park farther away.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Walk to a restroom that’s farther away.
  • Walk over to your colleague’s desk instead of sending an email.

Remember, every step counts!

6. Get some exercise on your lunch break.

You can also use your lunch hour to take a walk outside or get a quick workout in. Many gyms offer 30-minute fitness classes during the lunch hour that you can attend by yourself or with your coworkers.

 7. Change your eating habits.

It’s easy to find yourself snacking or sipping soda at the office. However, eating healthy food is a basic way to stay fit while working a desk job.

Pack your own lunch or fill up on fresh food from the cafeteria. Research healthy lunch options to give yourself some ideas for great food to incorporate in your diet. You might consider eating things like:

  • Salads.
  • Fruit.
  • Vegetables.
  • Nuts.
  • Granola bars.
  • Yogurt.
  • Eggs.
  • Whole-grain bread.

Eating nutritious food throughout the day will give you more energy and help increase your productivity at work.

8. Drink lots of water.

Increasing your water intake is another key tip for how to stay healthy at a desk job. Staying hydrated leads to:

  • Improved brain function.
  • Higher energy levels.
  • Reduced fatigue.
  • Better mood.
  • Brighter skin.

It’s recommended women drink 11.5 cups of water and men drink 15.5 cups of water daily. You can bring a reusable bottle to work or leave one at your desk to ensure you’re staying hydrated. Taking a few minutes to walk to the water fountain to refill your water is another great way to get in a few extra steps every day.

Stick to your fitness goals.

Following through on your goals is easier said than done. Check out our blog on how to stick to your goals to help you achieve success. 
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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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