how to stay active with a full time desk job

If you’ve ever had a Monday through Friday desk job, you’ve probably noticed on certain days you only get up to use the restroom or grab your lunch. It comes with the territory — you get busy, caught up in your work, and forget to take some time to stretch your legs.

Not only does getting exercise throughout your day help your body function properly, but it also helps your brain power and energy — both of which help you function better in your job. If we want to perform our best at work (and in life), we need to make sure we aren’t rotting at our desks. But the question is, how can you stay active when your job is to sit at a computer all day?


I struggle with this on a daily basis, and I have compiled a list of a few ideas that may help. Obviously everyone’s job and location are different, but this is what works for me. Here are 5 ways to stay active and fresh during your work day:

  1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual and take a short walk around the block. I have a dog, so I have to do this most mornings anyway, but I’ve found that it really sets the expectation of movement for the day and gets your blood pumping. Even better, if you generally work out when you get home from work, try doing it in the morning a few times a week. If you know you’ll be sitting for a long period of time, it is important get moving early in the day.
  2. Set “get up and move” reminders on your phone. This one is easy — we all have smart phones these days, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t keep theirs near them at work. Set a reminder to get up, stretch, or walk outside for some Vitamin D. You could also set a reminder to have a 5 minute chat with a friend or grab a cup of coffee. There are plenty of options for active breaks and just spending 10-15 minutes on your feet, being social, and getting some movement in can do wonders for your body and your brain.
  3. Walking meetings. I have yet to do this, but it is becoming a popular form of meeting. Instead of a coffee, lunch or happy hour meeting (or conference room, because there’s no better way to wear yourself out than sitting in a boring conference room), you can walk and talk.. Not only will you get exercise, but it also releases endorphins which will help your brain function better.
  4. Commit to using half of your lunch break to walk each day. Even better, find a co-worker that will commit to doing this with you. Accountability is powerful. One of my coworkers and I take a walk around our block every day after lunch. Not only does it aid digestion, I also get some fresh air and extra exercise. We come back to work feeling satisfied and ready to conquer the afternoon.
  5. Take public transit or park your car as far away as you can. This is obviously not applicable to all, but at my office we have a fairly large parking lot and I find it helpful to park in the last row so I get some extra steps as I come and go. For those that have access to public transit, walking to the bus stop or train station can get some extra steps in as well.

Staying active despite my desk job is something I constantly have to work at, but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. On weeks that I do well at moving during the day, I find my spirits are lifted, I feel much more productive and it becomes second nature to remain active. Give it a try!

How do you make sure you’re moving throughout the day?