Desk exercise: Ways to be more active in the office

desk stretch

10th May 2017

5 Minutes

On average, British workers spend nearly five hours a day sitting at their desk without moving. And after a long hard day at work, all the promises we make to ourselves to go to the gym or for a run often go straight out of the window.

Getting enough exercise during the day can be difficult, especially with a 9 to 5 desk job, but there are plenty of ways you can help your employees get active at work.

With a few simple desk exercises and stretches, increasing fitness around the office needn’t be as hard as it sounds.

Take the stairs

It may seem like a pain at the time, but taking the stairs instead of the lift can be a great way to get some exercise at work. As well as giving you the chance to stretch your legs, walking up the stairs can also get your heart rate going, your blood pumping and your energy levels will enjoy a boost too.

Try encouraging employees to take the stairs rather than the lift with the help of some simple signage around the office. You could display the benefits of using the stairs and highlight the importance to staff members.

Standing desks

standing desk

There’s no need to remove your chair and sit on an exercise ball or change everyone’s sit down desks to treadmill-style workstations. Instead, by simple switching to stand-up desks, you could stretch out your back and actually boost productivity. Ease employees into this one though, as it can be difficult to stand for long periods of time straight away. If you’re undecided about what approach to take, our article on standing versus sitting desks can help.

Desk stretches

desk stretch

There are plenty of different stretches that can be done from the comfort of your desk to get your blood pumping and help you overcome any aches or pains. While you may feel silly at first, encouraging others to do stretching exercises at their desks could soon see you all feeling that bit better. Try leg extensions under your desk, simple neck exercises while you have a moment’s peace and back stretches while you’re working on something simple. It’s also worth making sure your desk is ergonomically sound to ensure you’re sitting correctly at your desk. Footrestsback supports and keyboards can all help towards avoiding office aches and pains.

Tai Chi

tai chi

Tai Chi is good for improving your mental and physical health – plus, it’s a great way to get active at work. Combining deep breathing with flowing movements, Tai Chi could help you feel more relaxed and in turn, more productive at work. Try a few simple exercises on your lunchbreak or enlist a Tai Chi instructor to come into the office and give classes to those employees who want them.

Walking meetings

walking meeting

Yes, they’re a real thing. Walking meetings are a great way to combine work and exercise. Whether it’s ambling around the office or going for a stroll outside with co-workers, walking meetings could help increase creativity and get you moving. Walking is said to be one of the best things you can do to counter the effects that sitting all day has and it’s thought to increase communication between staff.

Speak to others


It’s all too easy to send an email to someone with a question or important document attached. Instead, try speaking to them in person. Not only will you get a break from your screen but you can enjoy some gentle exercise walking to see them, while improving face to face employee relationships.

Utilise your lunch break

lunch break

Lunch is the perfect time to exercise. Instead of grabbing some food and sitting back at your desk, get out of the office and go for a walk. Invite colleagues with you as a way to get to know them better or simply venture out on your own. Not only will you feel the benefits of a little fresh air, you’ll likely feel less stressed for having some time away from the office.

Incorporating exercise into your daily working life could have a positive effect on your health. From the simple exercises you can do at your desk to getting yourself up and about, making the time for, and encouraging everyone to do exercise can really pay-off in the long run.

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