SP Premium

13 Ways to Get Moving at Work

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


GETULLY 1/19/2021
I am retired but I set a timer for 30 minutes when I am working on the computer or spinning yarn so I get up and move. Report
Good tips. I sit way to much at work and have to make a conscious effort to move. Report
Thanks Report
Good tips Report
It’s difficult to sit all day Report
These are some great ideas. While I'm at the printer I walk around the room while I'm waiting on my documents to finish printing!! Report
Great article Report
great ideas Report
Welcome tips! Report
great tips Report
Just coming back to work after 3 months off post knee replacement. These are some great suggestions! Report
I walk on my breaks at work while listending to my play list Report
At home...if we are watching TV in the evening...I get up and walk around during commercial breaks. Report
Another writer also mentioned that these are great if you have the kind of job. I also had a job that discouraged getting up and moving around. We also were lectured about productivity and that taking breaks was taking away from the company and wasting time. Thankfully I'm no longer in that job. Report
I'm on day 3 of a treadmill desk. My legs are KILLING me, but I know sitting all day was actually killing me! I've had a ton of people stop by office to see and comment. Believe it or not, it's really not difficult to type and concentrate at all! I'm super excited! We'll see!!! Report
I have a job that requires me to be on a ton of confrence calls. For Christmas my husband got me a wireless headset. The fact that it is wireless lets me move around more - remember sitting is the new smoking! Every step counts!!! Report
great info Report
Thanks for the reminder! Report
Remember to MOVE. Report
HMMM..maybe I could go up the stairs...it's only two flight, but I have to haul myself up by the handrails due to arthritis. Then after a few days, my knees start constantly screaming at me. So a better thing would be a walk around after I eat. Report
My job is very sedentary unless I make a point of doing something. My strategies include marching in place while at the copier, using the stairs when my arms aren't full, and spending at least a short break in the little onsite gym. That gym is a lifesaver! Report
I use Workrave on my computer. Every hour it reminds me to take a 5 minute break. Sometimes I skip the break but often I let it "lock" my screen and I go refill my water, stretch and get back to work. It also reminds me about lunch time to take an hour break. It shows you exercises to do when on the big break. Report
When I was still working I'd walk all around the building whenever I went to the ladies room. Wasn't a long walk, but got me moving. and when my printer broker I decided to use the one in the fax room so had to get up all the time to pick up printing. Report
I work from home, so have the benefit of taking the stairs to go to the downstairs bathroom every time. I also go downstairs to let my dog in and out for his potty breaks, too!

As well, I recently bought a FitDesk under desk elliptical. It isn't a hard workout, but it gets your blood pumping. I usually do 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, between teleconferences (it isn't noisy, but I can overexert and sound a little short of breath sometimes), and it is activity...there is also a tension setting, and I am up to 5, with the max setting being 8. I try to turn an otherwise very sedentary job into something with some movement. Report
Great tips! My way to get extra steps at work is that I am constantly very "inefficient". One way to do that is to make multiple trips to the photocopier. Also with another co-worker, we walk at lunch and if the weather isn't good, we found a floor upstairs that has no tennants so we walk there. We also do stairs as well. Report
I walk around the office building when i have to go to the bathroom. There are two sets of 5 stairs and i go up and down those a couple of times on the way back. I am trying to get all my water in (1/2 my body weight in ounces) so that is a LOT of bathroom trips. Report
My job requires me to stand all the time and I use a lot of movement of squatting and bending. It gives me a chance to burn off calories. Report
I now have a vision of the Spark People headquarters being filled with employees who are all trying to out-do each other fitness-wise while at their work stations. Hero's pose while at the computer? That's hilarious. Report
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. :- ) Report
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. Report
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!" Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Typo: Where it says,"in a squat top open tight hips," I think "top" is supposed to be "to." Report
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. Report
Awesome tips. Thanks! Report
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). Report
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. Report
These were great, easy and simple! Will begin to implement them as soon as today! Report
thanks for some great tips that are easy to implement. Report
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. Report
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 Report
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." Report
Great article Report
Love these ideas! Report
Love these ideas! Report
really cool ideas Report
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. Report
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. Report
Walking Guide