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10 Ways to Fight Desk Job Death & Stay Active at Work



A new study of how Americans work shows that as we have made the move to desk jobs we have become less active, leading to obesity and other health issues. The study found that 80% of jobs are classified as sedentary, compared to 50% in 1960. At the heart of the issue is a drop in calorie burn of 120 to 140 calories. Combined with an abundance of snacks and larger portion sizes, this drop has added up to a big problem.

Being tied to a desk, rather than being on your feet all day is definitely a health issue, but adding activity to your workday isn’t hard to do with items you already have at hand. Even better, if you institute a few of these changes it is relatively easy to burn the additional 140 calories through the course of a workday.

no sittingFlickr – Matthew Wilkinson

Ten Ways to Stay Active While You Work

Standing Desk – We have long been fans of the standing desk. By standing while you work, you can burn an average of 200 to 400 calories depending on your weight. Even if you stand for half the day you will burn those extra calories and enjoy other benefits from the ergonomic setup. Check out our Standing Desk Guide for more reasons to switch, DIY standing desks and sit stand desks you can buy for as little as $399.

Empty Office Flickr.jpg

Flickr – markhillary

Arrange your Office for Movement – Rather than clump everything in your office into a single area, within an arm’s reach, spread it out. This will encourage movement throughout the day that will add up and also help create a more open office layout so you have room for our other suggestions.

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Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes – Numerous studies have shown that when you wear comfortable clothes and shoes to work you move more. Without a stuffy suit or uncomfortable shoes it is easier to be more active. Don’t believe empirical evidence, try it out yourself and you’ll see the benefits immediately.


Take Breaks to Move – Set aside specific time to move. Set an alarm on your cell phone or use an app like Nag for Mac to tell you to stop working and start moving. Take a walk around the building or up and down the stairs — something, anything to get you moving.

spiderman walking.jpg

Flickr – Eneas

Walk, Don’t Call or Email – Rather than call or email your coworkers, stop down and see them face to face. In addition to making you move more it can help avoid miscommunications via email.

7th Hour Stretch – In addition to getting up and walking more, take time to do stretches or exercises in your new open office layout. You can see a collection of office exercises and the 15 minute office workout video above.

bike to work .jpg

Flickr – Incase

Bike or Walk to Work – Not everyone lives close enough to bike or walk all the way to work, and if you work at home the walk is barely enough to register, but you can find ways to make yourself walk part way to work. The easiest way is to find the furthest parking lot or parking spot and walk from there. This could be on site or at a nearby business.

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Track Your Movement – If you can see an improvement in the number of steps taken and calories burned it is easier to keep motivated. If you have a smartphone, download runkeeper and use it when you take short walks to see how they add up. If you want to go further, try the $99 fitbit which tracks your steps, calories burned and shows you how active you are with an easy to see flower.

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Get a Different Chair – Exercise ball chairs are a common tool for promoting better posture and burns 6% more calories an hour than sitting on a standard desk chair.

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Flickr –

Check Your Email and Tweets on Your Phone – Reading, responding to and triaging email and social networks can take up to 30% of out of your time spent online. Since you most likely have an email capable smartphone or tablet, try to use that device while standing to answer your emails. This will burn a few more calories and help you keep it short and sweet. If you have access to a track, walk while you check your email to burn even more calories. Just don’t do it on the sidewalk, unless you like wandering into traffic.

Making These Actions Into Habits

We know it’s not easy to change your routine and note everyone can implement all of these activities, but with a little help you should be able to take up 2 or 3 of these activities.

To get started, add any action based items to your calendar as a reminder or adjust your alarms to allow for walking to work. The more you can automate the better!

For desk and chair items, make the case to your employer that your better overall health and productivity will benefit them. and Ergotron have a collection of tools to help you make the case



  1. essay writer

    05/30/2011 at 1:31 pm

    thanks for the post) very interesting and bright due to photos

  2. Alison Dalton Smith

    09/18/2012 at 9:13 am

    Great post! Thanks a lot. I just added your article to the comments of my blog post “Don’t Accept the Sedentary Lifestyle”

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