Exercise at Work

Too busy to exercise? Now you can stay fit at work

Japanese businesswoman sitting on exercise ball and working at desk
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It's hard to find time to exercise, especially for those of us who work in an office. It would be great if you could head out for a workout at the gym or go for a run outside to blow some stink off but, unfortunately, your boss doesn't count that as part of your job description.

So, if you're chained to your desk, how can you stay fit? It takes some creativity, but there are opportunities to exercise at work if you pay attention. All it takes is a little planning and some inspiration to squeeze in a little movement all day long.

The Basics

You probably know a few tricks for staying active at work. Taking the stairs when you can, parking further away from the door and walking around the office when you can are good places to start. Beyond that, there are a few other options to keep you moving:

  • If it's allowed, sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. This will strengthen your abs and back and you'll work on your posture without even trying.
  • Set an alarm to go off every hour to remind you to stand up, stretch, and move around. Even if you just swing your arms or take a deep breath, you'll feel more alert.
  • Use the restroom on another floor and take the stairs
  • Use a pedometer or activity monitor and keep track of how many steps you take. Aim for 6,000 to 10,000 steps a day.
  • Leave something important in your car (your lunch, your briefcase, etc.) so you have to run out to get it (and take the stairs)
  • Deliver documents or messages to co-workers in person rather than by email
  • Walk around the parking lot or local mall on your lunch hour
  • Get a headset for your phone so you can move around while you talk

Most important, remember that any movement is better than none, so don't feel like you have to do sprints all day long. Adding short bouts of exercise throughout the day will help you burn more calories and reduce stress.

Exercise Equipment

If you have your own office, consider keeping a resistance band, ankle weights and even a couple of sets of dumbbells in your desk drawer. You can squeeze in some quick upper body exercises while you're on the phone. If you work in a cubicle or don't want people to see you exercising at your desk, all you really need is a chair and a couple of large, full water bottles you can use for any dumbbell exercise. 


Even if you're busy, there are things you can do at your desk. The resources below offer websites and software you can use to make your workday a little more active.

Making Your Office Fitness Friendly

Your boss may not have considered how much more productive his or her employees would be with a little exercise. If you can, encourage your boss to:

  • Work with local gyms to provide membership discounts for employees
  • Work with local personal trainers to provide monthly seminars or free body fat testing for employees. Some trainers will even do this for free
  • Set up daily or weekly walks during lunch or after work
  • Give you extra breaks during the day to take quick walks
  • Be active. If the boss exercises, employees will take their own health more seriously

Even if your boss could care less about exercise, you can do a lot to get others involved in working out. Plan lunches where co-workers get together and talk about ways to exercise at work. Get a group together and join a local gym (and see if they'll give you a group discount). Hire a personal trainer to come and work with you and your co-workers during lunch. Many trainers also offer group discounts. There are any number of ways to encourage fitness in the workplace, so be creative.

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