Tips for Staying Active at Work

Written By:Stacy Simon

Many of us have jobs that keep us sitting at our desks, getting up infrequently to move around. But study after study links inactivity with dying earlier from diseases like cancer, so it’s in our best interest to get some exercise – even while we’re at work.

American Cancer Society Managing Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, has some tips to keep you active during your workday.

  • If you drive to work and park in a deck or garage, find a space at the far end so you have a walk to the elevator or stairs. If you take transit, get off one stop farther from your office and walk the extra distance. And, if you can, choose the stairs or escalator  instead of the elevator.
  • Stuck sitting at conference tables? Have a walking meeting. Frequently sending emails to people down the hall? Walk to someone’s office to chat. And have you considered sending your print jobs to a printer far away? Or using the bathroom the farthest from your desk?
  • At your desk, ditch your chair and sit on an exercise ball instead. During conference calls, stand up and pace, or stay seated and do leg lifts, knee lifts, and toe curls. If you’re feeling adventurous, keep a weight under your desk for bicep curls. If you have a wall, do standing push-ups.

Make technology work for you

If you work at a computer, you likely have access to tools and resources that can help you be more active at work.

  • Set up an electronic alarm on your computer or smart phone to remind you to take an activity break.
  • Stand up while you use your smart phone to read and answer emails and other messages.
  • Use a pedometer or activity tracker to record your active minutes and motivate yourself to do more.

Standing desks: pros and cons

Companies that sell standing desks claim they provide health benefits, including weight loss, reduced back pain, improved mental health, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and greater life expectancy.

However, there is not clear evidence that standing instead of sitting at a desk all day burns significant calories. Health experts do agree that taking frequent walking breaks, even short ones while at work, can lead to better health and help you live longer.

Experts advise that if you do try a standing desk, start slowly (stand for just 30 minutes to an hour a day) and increase gradually.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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