5 Ways to Stay Active While Working a Desk Job


Everyone needs to move during the day. Movement keeps our bodies healthy and our muscles strong. If you sit for the majority of your workday, it’s essential to find a way to get moving more frequently. Regular movement will help mitigate the risks associated with excessive sedentary behavior (like back pain, obesity, and even heart disease), and it can also increase your productivity, mental focus, and job satisfaction.

Although it may be hard to admit at first, unfortunately, many people eventually realize that it’s the sedentary nature of their job that’s directly impacting their health and job performance. The good news is that there are a plethora of ways to stay active even during your workday. Our physical therapy clinic would like to offer some information on the importance of staying active as well as a few tips to help you do so at work.

The importance of staying active

Finding the time or the motivation to exercise is difficult for many people. According to PT in Motion News, 80 percent of Americans aren’t meeting physical activity guidelines set forth by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The truth, however, is that getting active can vastly improve your health, your comfort, mobility, and overall quality of life. That’s why it’s so important to stay active, even when you have a desk job.

Need some tips to stay moving? Check out these helpful ideas from our physical therapist staff.

1. Don’t ignore nagging pain! It’s hard to stay focused and comfortable at work if you’re in pain. You can’t get anything done and chances are your mood is negatively affected as well. Although sitting for longer than 7 to 8 hours per day is associated with health problems, sometimes the idea of increasing your physical activity can seem like a huge obstacle. By consulting with a physical therapist, you can get underlying health problems diagnosed and managed.

Physical therapists are trained movement specialists who use non-invasive, evidence-based techniques that work with your body’s natural healing power instead of just providing a band-aid for the pain.

These specialists can also prescribe guidance on ergonomic changes you can implement around your office to help you maximize your posture, core strength, and other elements of health so you can function better while on and off the clock.

2. Invest in a pedometer. A pedometer is a piece of technology that can measure the number of steps you’re taking every day. Research shows that wearing a simple pedometer (you can find super inexpensive options online and in sports retail stores) helps increase how much walking activity you’re getting in per day.

Having this kind of motivation can be inspiring and get you to move more frequently than you may otherwise. You may even consider getting some colleagues to join in on your fun, and create a little friendly competition to see who can get the most steps in throughout the workweek.

3. Find reasons to get up out of your chair. Can you park farther away from the building? Take the stairs instead of the elevator? Take 20 minutes of your lunch break to do a brisk walk around the campus or neighborhood? Walk down the hall to chat with your colleague or employee instead of sending an email or text? Come up with ways to move more on and around your work area.

4. Stay hydrated. Keeping a refillable water bottle by your desk at all times is key to this tip. Staying well-hydrated on the job offers multiple benefits: it helps your tissues and joints stay healthy, it improves focus, it eases headaches, and yes—it will make you need to get up more frequently to use the bathroom!

5. Workout at your desk. At least once per hour, pause what you’re doing and take a few minutes to run through some simple exercises or stretches. These can be done in the privacy of your own office or even out where everyone can see or possibly join in. If you aren’t sure what stretches to begin doing, ask a physical therapist to provide you with an individualized program that can address your specific needs and be tailored to your job duties.

How can a physical therapist help?

No matter what your current level of physical activity may be, physical therapy can help you increase your fitness level, reduce your chance of injury, and eliminate pain from sore muscles.

A physical therapist can evaluate your current physical condition and assess your fitness level. They can also teach you the proper techniques for warming up before your chosen activity and the best post-workout stretches for an effective cooldown.

Not to mention, if you have pain from a nagging injury, physical therapy can help you with that as well by assessing your condition and finding the underlying cause of your pain. From there, they can create a customized treatment plan to help ease or eliminate your symptoms.

Ready to up your fitness game?

If you would like more tips on how to stay healthy and active during the workday, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our skilled physical therapists are waiting for you and ready to help you achieve your fitness goals, and stay active during your long workday!

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