Staying Healthy in the Workplace: Exercises You Can Do at Work

Anyone who’s ever tried to maintain an exercise regimen knows how hard it can be, even with a gym membership and the gear required to participate in one’s favorite activities. So many days I get home from work and other activities and am either too exhausted or simply not motivated enough to exercise – and I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Combine this lack of exercise with sedentary jobs and we have a recipe for disaster – poorer health and higher rates of obesity.

We can start to chip away at the problem by infusing our workday with activities and exercises that can be done on our way to and from work, and at or near our desks. I’ve done a bit of searching and come up with a short list of such exercises.

Walk or bike to work and take the stairs. Not possible for everyone, but if you take public transportation, get off at a Metro or bus station a bit farther away and walk from there. If you drive, consider parking further away and doing the same. Once you get to work, take the stairs if you can. You’ll get a bit of cardio time in and work those glutes.

Keep those hands and wrists flexible. Especially important for those who spend much of their day typing. Clench fists and release (can help relieve stress, too.) Spread and bend fingers. Stretch those forearms: stretch arm out with palm up and use other hand to stretch fingers toward wrist.

Stretch your neck, back, and shoulders. Sitting hunched over a computer can put a lot of strain on your neck and back. Try these exercises to stretch muscles and help improve posture.

Hold onto the bottom of your chair with one hand and lean your head toward the opposite shoulder. Use your free hand to pull your head closer to your shoulder for a deeper stretch.

Sit up straight and try to touch your shoulder blades together.

Place one hand near the middle of your back, with your elbow behind your head. Grasp the fingers of this hand with the other hand. (Both arms should be bent at the elbow). Switch arms and repeat.

Improve posture by working your core. Sit up tall in your seat. Contract your abs and lift one foot off the floor about six inches, so your knee comes straight up with the foot directly underneath. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower it while relaxing your abs. Repeat with the opposite leg, and alternate legs.

Sitting in your chair, scoot down to the edge of the seat. Support your upper body on the armrests. Pretend you’re riding a bicycle, bringing each knee near the chest, keeping the abdominal muscles contracted. Try to pedal in smooth circles.

Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Inhale and contract the abdominal muscles. Hold the contraction for 10 to 20 seconds. Perform five to ten contractions throughout the day.

To find these and more exercises check out the following links:

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

Great tips on staying healthy in the office. I am digging the new http://fitness.govwebsite that was unveiled yesterday. I’m thinking that GovLoop should sponsor fitness events…maybe charity walks/runs? Would be cool to see a bunch of GovLoopers getting fit.

By the way, all Federal agencies are doing their annual WellCheck inventory, which is based on the HHS Workplace 2020 and is used to evaluate health and wellness programs.

I know that both OPM and OMB are very interested in this topic, as well as state and local governments. Chicago just launched their program this year:

Cat Robinson

Thanks for the resource Terry! Here is yet another reason to work out, because being fitter may make you smarter. Either way, I know it helps me focus.

Terrence (Terry) Hill

I just saw this neat infographic yesterday about the topic of fitter people not only being fitter, but more efficient.


this is great! i’ve started doing simple exercises, like push ups, and it really helps to reduce stress and keep me positive. it also ends the ‘shame’ of not working out. let’s face it, who has time to work out for an hour and half everyday!? 10-15 mins does the trick!