12 Tips to stay active and fit at a desk job

April 10th, 2024
How to stay active at a desk job

You’re busy working on your computer, and while you are at it, you don’t even notice that you have been sitting and tinkering for 8 straight hours! In the hustle and bustle of a desk job, maintaining an active and fit lifestyle can be challenging. However, with mindful strategies and simple adjustments, it’s possible to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. 

Entrepreneurs, salespeople, marketers, IT workers, and many others with sedentary jobs spend a lot of time working on the computer. Sedentary jobs can contribute to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, cancer, deep vein thrombosis, stiff necks and shoulders, anxiety, and depression.

So if you are building your business website, starting an online store, or creating a blog, don’t forget about healthy habits. Revitalize your working routine with our amazing tips for how to stay active at a desk job.

1. Establish morning routine

The best way to start your day is with physical activity. Incorporate a brisk walk, a short yoga session, or a quick workout into your morning routine for as little as 15-30 minutes. Check out some inspirational videos on YouTube to help get you motivated.

This morning ritual will energize your body and set a positive tone for the day. Research shows that morning exercise improves mental clarity and productivity, contributing to a more active day overall.

2. Adjust your sitting posture

Improving your sitting posture can enhance your overall well-being. Maintaining proper posture is essential. Poor posture may exert strain on muscles and joints, resulting in issues like balance problems, fatigue, and discomfort in the back and neck.

How does proper posture look like? When sitting, ensure your back is supported and your spine maintains its natural curves, with your shoulders relaxed and your feet flat on the floor. Your shoulders should be rolled back and relaxed, with your chest open and lifted. Avoid slouching or leaning forward, and try to keep your computer screen at eye level to prevent strain on your neck.

3. Be active

Whenever possible, try walking or biking for short trips instead of driving. If you use public transport regularly, just get off one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way to not only get exercise but also reduce your carbon footprint. Also, consider parking farther away from the building to encourage walking across the parking lot. Small choices can increase physical activity over time.

4. Use stairs instead of the elevator

Ditch the elevator as the default choice in your daily routine. If you find yourself relying on using the elevator too much, try taking the stairs. Climbing the stairs is a great way to activate your leg muscles and increase your heart rate, improving your cardiovascular fitness.

How often should you take a break from sitting at your computer

5. Take regular breaks

You can avoid prolonged periods in the same position if you take regular breaks. Sitting for long periods of time can cause many muscles to tighten or shorten, resulting in discomfort, pain, and tension long after the workday is over.

How often should you take a break from sitting at your computer? Take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. During these breaks, engage in activities such as walking, deep breathing, or simple stretches. Taking regular breaks isn’t just beneficial for your body; it also provides a much-needed opportunity for your brain to recharge and relax, helping you maintain peak performance.

A 2018 study found that incorporating brief pauses during mentally taxing activities can reduce fatigue and cognitive overload while enhancing overall productivity. 

6. Stretch it out 

Incorporating stretching into your routine breaks is a great way to refresh mentally. When you’re sitting at a desk for long periods of time, stretching helps to counteract the effects of muscle tightness and stiffness. Make it a habit to stretch major muscle groups, including your neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs.

Try yoga poses like downward-facing dog, upward dog, or plank for a revitalizing boost. By prioritizing stretching in your daily routine, you’ll not only feel more relaxed but also promote better posture and reduce the risk of muscle strain and injury over time.

Stretching at the desktop

7. Follow the 20-20-20 rule

The 20-20-20 rule is a recommended eye exercise to alleviate digital eye strain caused by prolonged screen time. This will help you stay healthy with a desk job. The rule suggests taking a break every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

This helps reduce the eye fatigue, dryness, and discomfort associated with prolonged screen time, promoting better eye health and preventing potential long-term problems.

8. Maximize your lunch break

After a long day of sitting at a computer, take a walk and eat outside the office instead of eating lunch at your desk. Walk to a nearby park or restaurant garden, involve your colleagues and make it a daily routine. 

Even if you don’t go for a walk, it’s important to enjoy your lunch away from screens. This simple practice will help you disconnect from the work life, stop sitting, move and stretch your muscles.

9. Move while calling

Stand or move while on the phone. Take the opportunity to get up and engage in light physical activity, such as walking around your office, or incorporating gentle stretches to avoid prolonged sitting.

If your company schedules many meetings, perhaps you can suggest a walking meeting, as some companies have started implementing. The walking meetings are a way to enhance creativity, productivity, and focus during discussions and decision-making processes.

10. Exercise sitting at the computer

Incorporating simple activities like seated leg lifts, desk stretches, or chair squats can be seamlessly integrated into your workday. These movements not only help combat the sedentary nature of desk work but also enhance improved posture and increased energy levels throughout the day. Let’s look at some of them in detail.

Seated Leg Lifts

  • Lift one leg at a time straight out in front of you, hold for a few seconds, then lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg.

Ankle Circles: 

  • Lift your feet slightly off the ground and rotate your ankles in clockwise and counterclockwise circles to improve ankle flexibility.

Neck Stretches

  • Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Torso Twists:

  • Sit up straight, place one hand on the opposite knee, and twist your torso gently to the side. Hold for a moment and repeat on the other side.
Tips for sitting at a desk all day

11. Eat healthy snacks

Snacking helps maintain satisfaction between meals and stabilizes blood sugar levels, providing enough energy to tackle the day.

Stay away from chips and processed foods. Opt for snacks that contain protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This combination provides sustained energy, which helps you focus throughout the day. E.g., greek yogurt paired with berries and honey or oat porridge with a banana.

12. Hydrate regularly

Proper hydration supports cognitive function, increases energy levels and boosts metabolism. Use reminders on your phone or computer to make sure you drink water consistently throughout the day. This also encourages you to take breaks, refill your water bottle, and incorporate short periods of physical activity.

The amount of water a person should drink per day can vary based on factors such as age, sex, activity level, and environment. A general guideline for healthy adults is about 2.7 liters a day for women and 3.7 liters a day for men, including fluids from water, beverages, and food.

Conclusion

Sedentary jobs worsen health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Remember that even small adjustments like taking regular breaks, getting enough fluids, and sitting properly can have a big impact. Start today, and keep your body and mind healthy.

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