Staying Active in a Sedentary Role: 6 Ways to Prioritise Movement

Having a desk job can be a real buzz kill for people who consider themselves to be active. And while most people tend to be relatively active before and after work, as well as at the weekends, the reality is that they are sat in a chair for an estimated 70% of their working day. With numerous health issues associated with this amount of sitting, it’s worth taking a look at your own personal stats and considering how you can increase movement throughout your day. After all, being in a desk-based role doesn’t mean having to neglect your health.

While it’s not always easy to keep on top of physical activity as you balance your professional and personal life, by setting clear intentions and making a few small adjustments, you can start to integrate exercise into your workday and weave more movement throughout your week. Here six ways you can create healthier habits through more movement. 

  1. Consider a Standing Desk

If you work remotely, (even if only a few days a week) a standing desk can be an ideal way to start combatting your sedentary workday. Plus, they have several other health-related benefits too, some of which include:

  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved posture
  • Strengthened core muscles
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduction in back pain
  • Increased concentration levels

While standing might not be as physically demanding as a workout session, it does require a significant amount of energy for your body to keep upright, engaging more muscle activity than if you were to be seated.

In addition, you might also want to consider a walking pad for your raised desk. Fitting in a daily walk can be difficult when you have back-to-back meetings and deadlines to chase. It can also be difficult to time your walk/run breaks with breaks in bad weather, which makes this a brilliant solution to making sure you reach your daily step count.

  1. Choose the Stairs

If you don’t work from home, you might have more opportunities for movement throughout the day. This might begin with your daily commute, walking to your bus or train station or evening cycling to the office. If you work in a large office setting, it can be tempting to take the lift to get around instead of using the stairs.

Next time you head to the office kitchen or restroom, attend an in-person meeting, or even catch up with a colleague, why not consider changing your route and taking the stairs? It might seem like a small change but by making this decision, you can increase your step count, improve your cardiovascular fitness and strengthen your muscles too. Every opportunity to move your body counts!

  1. Take Movement Breaks

When you’re busy working on a project, you might find yourself getting to the end of the day having hardly left your desk. While it might seem counterproductive to take frequent breaks when you have a task to complete, doing so might help improve productivity as well as help you to keep active.

Movement breaks don’t have to be long or high impact at all. Rather, you might want to take five minutes to stretch, take a quick walk or just head downstairs to get your legs moving. If you’re likely to lose track of time, you could find it helpful to set movement reminders to make sure you take necessary breaks. You can even time your breaks to ensure you’re not away from your desk for a longer period than you’re comfortable with.

  1. Reconsider Your Commute

Changing your usual commute can be another great way to stay active in your desk-based role. Depending on how far your journey to work is, you might want to consider walking or cycling into the office, even if it’s once or twice a week.

Alternatively, getting off the bus or train a stop earlier than usual and walking the rest of the way might work better for you. Getting fresh air before the workday begins can also give you time to organise your mind and take some time to yourself that you might struggle to find otherwise.

  1. Use a Smartwatch

There’s a wide range of smartwatches on the market, sometimes making it a little confusing to know what you actually need. However, if your goal is to prioritise movement, a basic watch that tells you your step count and heart rate could be perfect for you. While your phone can also provide this data, a smartwatch works as a visual reminder of your progress, which could make you more inclined to move. Plus, you might want to go device-free on your movement breaks, adding an extra layer of mindfulness.

  1. Get Competitive with Colleagues

Organising a fitness challenge with your colleagues can be a fantastic way to keep you motivated. What competition works best for you and your team is completely subjective, but some ideas include attempting to do the most steps in a week or attempting to swim or cycle a set distance. And to get more of your peers onboard, you could even consider an incentive such as raising money for a meaningful cause through sponsorship and tracking your progress on Strava.

Staying active doesn’t have to be intimidating or hard work. In fact, you may even be inspired to continue moving more outside of work and discover a new love for exercise by starting to take these steps. And, when the benefits are both physical and mental, you’ll hopefully begin to notice improvements to your overall health as you incorporate these changes.