13 Ways to Get Moving at Work

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/31/2013 6:00 AM   :  83 comments   :  68,286 Views

Like so many of you, I suffer from back pain, which I keep in check by taking care of my body with daily yoga, weekly Pilates classes, and being conscious about my posture. And though my job is pretty awesome, I do spend my days in front of a computer. I love writing and editing, but I don't love sitting. I am fortunate that the SparkPeople offices have not only a treadmill desk but some standing desk options as well.

When I'm working on large projects, I've been known to spend hours and hours sitting--without much movement. As soon as I do stand up, my body feels it. So I avoid staleness of mind and stiffness of body by finding creative ways to move throughout the day.

Here's what works for me:
  1. Take walking meetings. A few weeks back, Coach Nicole and I had some brainstorming to do, so she suggested that we take our meeting on the road. The change of scenery and fresh air did us both some good, and we came up with some wonderful ideas. I can't wait for our next one!
  2. Drink more water. More water=more trips to the bathroom=reminders to get up from your desk. If your office has more than one restroom, consider walking to one that's farther away.
  3. Every time you finish a task, take a stretching break. When I cross something off my to-do list, I stand up and stretch. Shoulders, neck, back… whatever feels tight gets a quick stretch. Try some of these stretches today.
  4. Stand up while you chat. When someone stops by to talk to me, I often stand up. Not only am I looking them in the eye, but it gives me a chance to stretch my legs. I do the same thing when I'm on calls.
  5. Move those feet. OK, so this tip doesn't get you off your behind, but it does help you keep your feet and ankles from getting tight and sore. Mine are prone to tightness, so a few times a day, I extend my legs long and alternate pointing and flexing my feet. I do some ankle circles and toe scrunches, too. When I'm not wearing shoes, I practice "yoga feet": I  plant my feet firmly on the ground, spreading my toes as wide as I can, making contact with the heel and the balls of the big toe and pinky while lifting the arches.
  6. Change positions. When I'm not wearing a skirt or dress, I sit in unconventional positions. I place a yoga block on my chair and sit in lotus or half lotus, cross-legged,  or with my calves underneath me in hero pose. I've even been known to sit in "chair pigeon" pose, with one ankle atop the opposite knee or on the block in a squat top open tight hips. I can't sit in many of these poses for more than a few minutes at a time, so I am reminded to readjust and move into a different position. If sitting in yoga poses isn't for you, try sitting without your legs crossed (bad habit of mine).
  7. Remind yourself to get up. Use your phone to set an alarm that goes off every hour. Stand up, stretch, and do one lap around your office if possible. Rather than setting an actual timer, I rely on the music site I use (Pandora) to tell me when to get up. When the music times out and goes quiet, I know it's time to get up and move. When I work from home, I walk up and down the stairs to check on my cats; when I'm in the office, I walk to the water fountain, the restroom, or a coworker's desk.
  8. Take a breather. If I'm having particular taxing day mentally and I'm running low on creativity, I instead find a quiet space and set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes. Sometimes I sit at my desk and sometimes in an empty office. I sit cross-legged, close my eyes, and breathe. I count the length of my inhales, keeping them steady and even, then I pause and count my exhales, keeping that same slow, steady rhythm. I clear my mind as best I can and focus on my breathing. When the timer goes off--I have it set to a gentle harp--I take one final deep breath, blink open my eyes and return to my work feeling refreshed.
Consider trying these simple, quick ways to squeeze in fitness:
  1. Take the stairs not the elevator.
  2. Talk in person rather than using instant messenger.
  3. Park farther away or add in a walk around the block.
  4. Don't roll your chair. Get up and walk instead.
  5. Use your lunch break for workouts.
 
How do you find ways to get moving during the work day? Share your best tips in the comments below.


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Comments

  • 83
    I have no idea as to what a yoga block is so I have to look that up, but all in all it sounds like some good ideas are expressed in this article. Thank you. :- ) - 7/19/2014   5:32:35 PM
  • 82
    LACYDT9's tip about needing frequent potty breaks is a good one. My office is upstairs. This gives me even more incentive to drink lots of water at work. - 2/4/2014   6:05:40 AM
  • 81
    Great tips! My bladder is the size of a pea.... so drinking tea and water all day has me running back and forth to the potty LOL :) It's very annoying, but I think "well at least it has me up and moving!" - 1/27/2014   3:09:36 PM
  • 80
    I love these tips. I work in an office but have the freedom to do as I need. I can get up but just honestly forget some days. I set up a reminder and now get up and walk around once an hour. - 1/21/2014   10:16:29 AM
  • 79
    I use my lunchtime to walk as often as possible. It is a nice mid-day break to clear the mind. I keep a pair of shoes and clean socks in a drawer, ready to go. - 9/11/2013   4:48:48 PM
  • 78
    Try setting goals like "100 jumping jacks" everyday. You can do 20 jumping jacks every 90 minutes during a normal shift and really break up your day. I like to do 20 jumping jacks every time I get up - I'll walk to the water fountain or restroom and while out of view, get my heart rate up for a little bit. - 9/11/2013   4:15:55 PM
  • LUPE_SEIN
    77
    Typo: Where it says,"in a squat top open tight hips," I think "top" is supposed to be "to." - 9/11/2013   2:47:34 PM
  • 76
    The company I work for invested in a computer program we call the "sheep lady" that pops up on our computers once every hour and reminds to stretch, stand, walk-- whatever it happens to be for that hour--for two minutes. It's annoying to have that pop up when you're in the middle of a report, but it does help to remind us that we need to move around. - 9/11/2013   11:59:25 AM
  • 75
    Awesome tips. Thanks! - 9/11/2013   10:33:47 AM
  • 74
    There are great desk stretches I do hourly like neck rolls, shoulder rolls, seated cat/cow (thanks to SparkPeople for all the ideas!)...I also make it a point to use the furthest bathroom from my office (which is 4 flights of stairs up). - 9/11/2013   8:47:04 AM
  • 73
    I love "More water=more trips to the bathroom=reminders to get up from your desk" I do this. We also have a nice water bottle that I can keep refilling my water. When I go to the bathroom, I fill back up. Sometime I'm not really empty, but I try to finish the water to have more.

    I so get only 15 minute break since I only work 6 hrs. I take my break outside. I now can walk 1/2 mile in 10 minutes without over doing it. - 9/11/2013   6:49:09 AM
  • GCWILLI1
    72
    These were great, easy and simple! Will begin to implement them as soon as today! - 6/26/2013   2:10:26 PM
  • ANAGIN
    71
    thanks for some great tips that are easy to implement. - 6/22/2013   6:08:28 PM
  • 70
    I love these. I've been working at home for 5 years in a VERY sedentary job in front of the computer all day. I recently got a ball chair and that has gotten me more movement since if I sit still on that for too long my behind falls asleep. Drinking water helps but my bathroom (the only one in the house) isn't far from my work space. Now that it's warmer out, I do take a quick walk/jog around my house during breaks. I work nights, so I don't want to get much farther than around my block even though it is a small town and pretty safe. I also have a tv in my room that is internet enabled, and I have some of the Jillian Michaels workouts on Amazon On Demand. I will take a few breaks and do about 10 minutes of the 30-day shred at a time if I need to get my workout in. If the weather doesn't cooperate, I will do some marching in place while watching something on Amazon or on Netflix instead of walking around the block. - 6/17/2013   2:05:55 AM
  • MALIGAL19
    69
    In my office we have a cooler in the kitchen... I used to bring water to work but once the cooler season came (i live in a hot area so we don't get winter), I stopped. So now if I want to get a drink I take a walk down to the kitchen - 6/6/2013   3:35:39 AM
  • 68
    When I move items at work, I remind myself that: "These are extra steps on the activity tracker.." and that "The body was made to move.. so do it." - 6/4/2013   5:03:20 PM
  • 67
    Great article - 6/2/2013   9:10:16 PM
  • 66
    Love these ideas! - 6/2/2013   11:15:40 AM
  • 65
    Love these ideas! - 6/2/2013   11:15:40 AM
  • 64
    really cool ideas - 6/1/2013   11:33:45 PM
  • 63
    These are all good suggestions if you have the right kind of job. I used to work at a job where you really didn't have the opportunity to get up and move that much. We were always lectured about productivity. - 6/1/2013   2:23:33 PM
  • 62
    I turn on my mp3 player sometimes and dance a little while I sort the mail. I'll also do a squat instead of bending over to reach the lowest boxes. - 5/31/2013   5:14:17 PM
  • SKINMINA
    61
    I am planning on incorporating some of these ideas. I have a desk job, with no prospects of obtaining a walking treadmill desk. But I won't let that stop me from becoming more active during work hours.... - 5/31/2013   2:47:05 PM
  • 60
    Excellent article ,providing tips on moving ,staying flexible at a sedentary type job.
    I am fortunate to have my office in my home. I have the option of working in my pj's and barefoot. I do yoga and pilates off and on. I walk around while talking on phone. I can record the conversation so I have all the info I need for making appointment or filling out an order. I am never too far from desk, so I have access to calendar, etc.
    I am so glad to be able to walk after losing weight and having knees replaced, I never miss the opportunity to walk extra distances, whether at home, the mall or grocery store. All movement if helpful in keeping your body more fit. - 5/31/2013   10:23:09 AM
  • AMARIE013
    59
    I am online 40 hrs a week at work & it can be a very stressful job complete with too many deadlines. It is SO easy to forget to move (or breathe) I have a timed "appointment" reminder set to pop up on the screen every hour, showing one word: OHMMMM. That's my cue to take a walk and/or sit up straight & take three deep breaths and drink a cup of water. - 5/31/2013   9:08:10 AM
  • 58
    I pace when I am on a conference call that I am speaking on but don't need to show anything on my computer. Today is a perfect example. I have 6 cc's from 9-2 I will get a lot of walking in today (not very far, but 100 laps around my kitchen)!!! - 5/31/2013   7:26:46 AM
  • 57
    We have a staircase in the kitchenette at my work. While I am waiting for the water to boil for tea, I walk up and down the stairs. It's 3-4 minutes of activity a couple of times a day, and it does add up.
    Obviously not everyone has stairs in the office, but lunges or some yoga postures would be possible in most break rooms. - 5/31/2013   6:19:36 AM
  • 56
    I am going to stand up more at my desk; I will be able to type some of the time but typing and researching my 'work' will require that I sit. I DO LIKE THE IDEA OF DOING SQUATS for each time I stand up and sit down....now that is a great challenge. - 2/26/2013   1:24:41 AM
  • MRSJNCURLY
    55
    I work at a computer all day. While sitting I straighten my legs pointing my toes to the ceiling and move legs up to top of desk and down to floor ten times. I do this once every half hour to keep legs from stiffening. I also stand while on the phone and walk with employees when we need to chat. - 9/23/2012   5:24:31 PM
  • 54
    The suggestion of parking farther away from the entrance also works for other places as well. I do this when I shop, etc. - 9/16/2012   3:26:21 PM
  • GLAGRAVE
    53
    Im on my feet all day thas 8 and half hours no breaks im tired and my feet hurt need some ideas on some exersises i can do sitting down - 9/13/2012   11:26:14 PM
  • APPY111
    52
    Hello! I need some for ideas for when I'm standing all day doing a bookfair (I'm an Usborne Books & More Consultant). I get sooo stiff being on my feet all day. Thank you!! - 9/11/2012   9:43:17 AM
  • 51
    I need these suggestions. Thank you. - 9/10/2012   9:53:03 AM
  • 50
    I try to take a brisk 10 minute walk outside once a day. It leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to face the next task! - 9/6/2012   5:39:46 PM
  • 49
    Very helpful - I tend to get engrossed in my project and can stay in front of my computer for hours. I've set my computer reminder so that I am reminded ever couple of hours to get up and move around a bit. - 8/25/2012   10:47:36 AM
  • 48
    I do some of SP desk exercises & stretching. Since I've gotten my pedometer working again I try to make a conscious effort to take the long way around & not shortcuts thru the office & sometimes just walk the floor. Love the tips, will add some to my routine. - 8/21/2012   11:21:58 PM
  • 47
    I like this blog. I am fortunate to live near my job so I walk to work. I try not to sit down at my station (the computer is high enough for me) and I try to move around a lot or find reasons to get up and go. - 8/17/2012   10:50:12 PM
  • 46
    I try to take the stairs and I take a walk every lunch break=) - 8/16/2012   9:33:06 AM
  • FITANDFORTY12
    45
    I march in place or stretch while my food is in the microwave. It's only for a few minutes but keeps me focused. - 8/14/2012   3:25:07 PM
  • FITANDFORTY12
    44
    I march in place or stretch while my food is in the microwave. It's only for a few minutes but keeps me focused. - 8/14/2012   3:22:36 PM
  • FAYZEE49
    43
    I work at an insurance and every day at 10am and 2pm, we have stretching exercises. I get to play DJ and find songs on YouTube that will inspire people to get up and move. It's amazing how many people will still dance to disco. And we also have a lot of laughs - 8/7/2012   4:15:25 PM
  • 42
    I have a desk job. I bought a kitchen timer last week and set it to go off every 20 minutes. There has been some recent research that simply sitting at a desk for long periods of time slows your metabolism (above and beyond the fact that you aren't burning calories while sitting), and this can be *reversed* by standing up to move (even just to file something or to stretch your legs counts!) every 20 minutes. - 7/31/2012   9:55:41 AM
  • 41
    I TOOK A BELLY DANCE CLASS YEARS AGO AND WE LEARNED HOW TO SHIMMY , I MODIFIED IT TO A COMBO OF WALKING IN PLACE YET NOT PICKING MY FEET FULLY OFF THE GROUND JUST MY HEELS. SO I WORK MY BUTT THIGHS AND CALVES AND NOT REALLY LOOKING MUCH DIFFERENT THAN A SHIVER TO KEEP WARM. I WORK WITH MANY GUYS AND DON'T CARE TO LOOK TO ODD. IT DOES MAKE ME WORK ON MY ABS ALONG WITH POSTURE. I TRY TO DO THIS ANY TIME I AM STANDING IN PLACE. - 7/30/2012   4:47:49 PM
  • 40
    I am a hospital pharmacist. Sometimes on second shift we have so many new orders coming at us that we cannot step away from the computer for hours. We are a closed department that nobody sees, so when we feel the "I can't look at one more order" fatigue, one of us will yell "chinese fire drill" and we get up and make 2 laps around the cubies and then sit back down and get back to work. Really revives the brain too. - 7/25/2012   12:10:28 PM
  • 39
    You mentioned "stand up while you chat".
    There's an even better one for many office workers - stand up while you are speaking on the phone! You can still be near enough the desk to jot down notes or whatever. But standing leads to other movement that is probably less likely to happen from a sitting position.

    On the phone - I pace as I talk. The speed can pick up or reduce the more or less stressed I am with the phone call.
    So I do this one at home, too.

    It can make a difference to your day - try it! - 7/24/2012   5:32:38 PM
  • 38
    Thanks for all the great tips! - 7/24/2012   2:48:59 PM
  • DQLWORSHIPS
    37
    I have several jobs which a two of them I sit and work at the computer, however, I love the other jobs that I have meeting new people to do business with as well as being an official for soccer and basketball. They all keep me level. - 7/24/2012   2:44:41 PM
  • RYANALLENMOORE
    36
    We schedule bike rides right from the office a few days per week. And Boss got us FitDesk Workstations to keep moving while using the computer. If I don't feel like using my FitDesk I just fold it up and put it in the corner until I feel like pedaling again. - 7/24/2012   12:24:54 PM
  • CNORTH82
    35
    I LOVE the idea of a walking meeting! My office is right on a trail network that stretches 25 km and runs along a river, so we have plenty of places to take a stroll and chat in my office! Thanks for the great tips! - 7/24/2012   10:17:31 AM
  • SCHEALTHNUTT
    34
    Excellent article. Fortunately I've had the capability to move about my workplace freely as I am an RN. Have always enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the workday!!!! - 7/22/2012   1:02:32 AM

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