If your work schedule is jam packed, you can still incorporate some clever ways to get your daily exercise, such as those suggested below. These simple ideas will easily increase your activity levels without disrupting your schedule or cutting into your work time. Remember, though, to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine.
If possible, walk or bike to work. If you rely on public transportation, get off a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.1 If you drive, park as far away as possible or park in a neighboring lot. Once in the building, take the stairs instead of the elevator to your desk or office.2 If you’re working from home, carve out time in the morning or afternoon when you would otherwise be commuting if you were working from the office, and exercise during that duration.
Take the stairs and walk around your building or house:
Look for ways throughout the day where you can leave your desk and walk. Whether it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a bathroom on a different floor, or talking face-to-face with a co-worker or family member instead of via the phone, email, or text… these steps and movement add up. This seemingly simple effort a few times a day can get your blood flowing and reduce tension. Studies show that those who take walking breaks during work feel more enthusiastic, less tense, and are generally more relaxed and able to cope than when they don’t take these breaks.3
Move on your lunch break:
Use your lunch break, no matter how long, to get in a quick run or a speed walk around your neighborhood. If you’ve got a heavy workload some days, you can still exercise but also use that time to multitask by returning phone calls or participating in conference calls that don’t require you to be in front of a computer.
Stretch at regular intervals:
Work some stretches in at regular intervals throughout the day — even if they’re just for a minute. Simple exercises such as leg extensions, standing and sitting a few times, shrugging your shoulders or doing torso twists all keep the body flexible and the blood flowing.4
Stand up often:
Some research suggests that standing up for a few minutes once every hour has a positive impact on your health. Find ways, no matter how small, to move your body and avoid sitting for extended periods. While standing is certainly not rigorous exercise, it’s better than just sitting for eight hours.5
If your company allows it or if you have room in your home office, and if you can safely and comfortably position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen on a stand, a keyboard on a table or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — you might be able to walk while you work.6
Consider “walking” meetings:
When it’s practical, schedule walking meetings or walking brainstorming sessions. If co-workers cooperate, do laps inside the building or take the meeting outside if the weather is nice. Or, if you’re working from home, take your simpler calls while walking around the block, as long as it’s not disruptive to your call’s objectives.
Keep fitness gear at work:
Resistance bands, hand weights or small dumbbells are all items that can easily be stored in your desk or office. You can get in a few reps while preparing for a meeting or reading a report.
Look at exercise as a priority:
Make exercise matter as much as your other daily activities. Try adding “exercise” as an entry on your calendar to carve out the time and make it part of your normal routine.
Stay aware of your posture:
Keeping good posture can actually help you stay fit by working the muscles that help keep you upright and support healthy movement. You already know to “sit up straight with your shoulders back” but it can be easy to forget and start slouching throughout the day. Consider adding a post-it note on your desk to remind you to maintain good posture throughout the day. Also, doing simple things such as flexing or “sucking in” your stomach muscles while at your desk or doing arm raises, shoulder rolls, etc. now and then can make a positive difference in the long run.
If you’re currently on the hunt for a new position with a company that supports your wellbeing and exercise during the workday, you may want to consider applying to work at Merchants! Check out our Wellness page to learn how we support our colleagues’ wellbeing, then head over to our Careers page to view current openings and apply. We look forward to hearing from you!
*Originally published April 7, 2021
1, 6. Mayo Clinic
2, 5. Biospace