The challenge of how to stay fit with a desk job is often overlooked. If you sit for much of your job, you know how easy it is to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Reading reports, composing emails and attending Zoom meetings make it convenient to sit at your desk and be productive. Even transferring from an office to work-from-home makes it easier to sit all day.
Adding in a quick exercise and mobility session can make a world of difference in how you feel and how your body functions. Try this free program 3 days a week (less than 20 minutes, no equipment necessary) if you need a simple, workable plan to follow. What do you have to lose? 20 minutes. But what you have to gain!
Negatives of Sitting All Day
Sitting down and working all day is not manual labor, but it’s actually pretty tough on the body. Our bodies do well moving a certain amount in the day, and that’s hard to do if your job is to focus and be electronically available for hours at a time.
If you sit too much without regular movement or exercise, you’ll notice tightness, fatigue, lethargy. Like a water well that needs a water primer, regular movement sets up our body for better movement, better health, and fewer issues in the future.
The Benefits of an Exercise Program
Despite this schedule, you must be deliberate about making time to take care of your health. It will pay you back in spades. How? You might already know some benefits of exercise, but they include:
- Increased energy levels (that don’t come from calories or caffeine)
- Decreased back pain
- Increased mood
- Greater quality sleep
Back to the part where I said you have to be deliberate – extra time doesn’t fall into your lap. Motivation doesn’t rain down like pollen in Austin, ya know. You’ve got to make a way for physical activity to fit in your life. This involves knocking down your specific barriers to exercise.
If this is striking a chord with you, I’m going to guess your barriers might be lack of free time and lack of a plan.
Challenge Your Limiting Factors – Have a Plan
Many of my clients have a desk job. They are busy, productive, and after thinking, producing and strategizing all day, the last thing they want to do is think up an exercise program before they exercise. The lack of a program to follow was a limiting factor.
If that is a limiting factor for you, and you are looking to start something without a huge time commitment, try the following program. Do it 3-6 days a week. It will take less than 20 minutes. It won’t prep you for high level athletics but it will go a long way in helping prevent and ease the pain of a sedentary lifestyle, and promote good health.
Feel Better From 20 Minutes a Day
Chances are, you know some benefits of exercise, and you even know some exercises. The challenge is more likely that after focusing and working on all, you just don’t want to think anymore about what to do in the gym. If that sounds familiar, and you’d like increased energy, decreased pain, try this program.
Pick 3 days this week, and give yourself 20 minutes. You can do this!
Exercises for Sitting All Day
Do 8 reps of each exercise, then move to the next exercise. After you have done all exercises for 8 reps, repeat the circuit. (Scroll down for hyperlinks and videos). It will look like this:
- 8 squats
- 8 Y
- 8 bear crawl (forward and backward, worth it!)
- 4 lunges each leg and 8 pullaparts
- 8 reach for the sky
Evaluate how that was, decide to do another set. Aim for 3 this first go round, and note how long it took you. Very do-able!
If you’d like a more in depth look at some of these exercises, check out these links:
How to Stay Active at a Desk Job
If you are looking for other ways to stay fit with a desk job in addition to the 3 sessions above, remember that you can add in small daily changes that add up. You might have heard of these before, but they do make a difference in keeping your body active, moving, and feeling good.
- stand up and stretch at the top of every hour
- stay hydrated; walk to the restroom often
- walk to a co-workers office to discuss what could have been an email
- take walking meetings, either with co-workers of while on muted zoom
- Decreased back pain
- walk up stairs when you have the time
Do It! And Update Me!
Let me know how this goes! I’d love to hear how you’ve made staying fit and active at your desk job a reality. Email me with any feedback or questions! email@example.com.
Related: Have a plan, as we discussed above, but modify don’t miss, if you are pinched for time.
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.