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5 Creative Ways to Increase Physical Activity at Work


Sitting at a desk for a living can have a negative impact, regardless of how much exercise you do before or after work. Finding time for movement during those hours is important to your overall health and fitness goals.

So, it’s useful to know what you can do about it. In this article, we’ll explore some creative ways you can start integrating more activity into your work day, whether you’re working from home or at the office.

The Importance of Movement at Work

Illustration of Person Lifting Weights

It is estimated that sedentary, desk-based jobs have increased by 83% since 1950, which means that people are getting less exercise. However, the key factor here is that people are spending more time sitting, which can cause problems even if you’re involved in exercise outside the office.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything that doesn’t include sports-based exercise, and keeping your body working. Some examples of NEAT are:

  • Housework, such as cleaning and vacuuming.
  • Gardening.
  • Every day walking.
  • Standing.
  • Cycling to work.
  • Walking up and downstairs.
  • Pacing back and forth.

As you can see, NEAT is something that fits in around other activities. It can be easily increased or decreased depending on the daily opportunities you have to move.

Related: Best Stretching Apps to Improve Your Flexibility

For instance, when traveling to work, you can choose to drive, or cycle. Driving has very few energy requirements, whereas cycling is a fantastic way to get your heart pumping. Both options get you from A to B, but have significantly different effects on your health.


By finding ways to maximize activity and movement at work, you’ll be more likely to reach your fitness and weight targets. In addition, you’ll also benefit from improved focus, concentration, energy, mood, and appetite.

So, let’s look at some creative ways you can start introducing more NEAT into your working life.

1. Use Pomodoro Breaks for Activity

Person Doing Yoga on Yoga Mat

The Pomodoro technique is excellent for increasing productivity, and overcoming procrastination. By taking a five-minute break for every 25 minutes of deep work, with a few longer breaks to split up the day, you improve focus.

However, by doing some form of activity during those five-minute breaks, you naturally increase your NEAT and easily integrate activity into your workday. Plus, you get double the benefits from using this productivity technique alongside movement.

The activity you choose could be anything, such as getting out of your seat and walking around, or doing some quick yoga by your desk. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re moving.

Related: The Best Pomodoro Timer Chrome Extensions for Deep Work

If you need something to notify you when you need to take those breaks, there are some really useful Pomodoro apps you can use. Alternatively, you can set your phone timer to go off every 25 minutes.

2. Utilize Email Applications While Moving

Illustration of Two Phones Beside Each Other With Message Icons

The great thing about having email apps, is that you can send and reply to emails while you’re on the go. This gives you the chance to get away from your desk, and still get work done.

Whether you use Outlook, Google Mail, or any other host, login to your work email on your phone and start moving. Block out some time at the start of your day to respond to emails, so you can focus solely on that. Not only does this make good sense with regard to efficiency and your health, but it addresses any multitasking habits you might have.

You can go for a walk around the office or outside, or you can do some abdominal crunches while holding your phone. It might take a bit of getting used to, but it’s definitely worth trying if you want to increase your activity.

Related: How to Read Emails Aloud in Microsoft Outlook

3. Get Moving On Your Lunch Break

This will entirely depend on how much time you get, but getting some exercise in on your lunch break is an easy way to stay active at work. Plus, it will enable you to build a healthy routine, and stop you from working through your break.

It’s best practice to do your activity before you eat, so make sure you give yourself enough time for food. If you have an hour’s respite, you might want to go for a 20-minute jog or walk, or do some gym-style workouts. There are also some excellent apps for on-demand and live fitness classes that you can take advantage of.

Related: Social Workout Apps to Exercise With Friends and Meet Fitness Goals Together

Just remember to do a short cool-down afterwards, and eat your lunch. There’s no use in hitting your exercise goals if you don’t provide your body with proper nutrition. Besides, you’ll need those nutrients to continue working optimally.

4. Take Small Meetings on a Walk

Illustration of Two People Walking in Park

Smaller meetings and one-to-ones don’t need to be restricted to a room or your computer. Ask your colleagues or boss if they’d like to do a walking or moving meeting instead.

This will be dependent on your team’s preferences, of course, but you might come to find that your colleagues want to increase their activity, too. It’s also a great excuse to get outside and soak in the sun on those nice days. If the weather isn’t permitting, you can always keep your walk indoors, or use an on-site gym.

Plus, if you need to keep a record of what’s discussed, you can always use the Otter app to turn your speech into text-based notes.

5. Utilize Equipment to Exercise at Your Desk

On those days that you have deadlines to meet, and really need to be at your desk to get things done, you might want to opt for desk-based exercise equipment. Although you will be seated, all movement counts towards your activity goals, and shouldn’t be dismissed.

You might choose to utilize a mini exercise bike, which is essentially just the peddles of a bike that you can fit under your desk. There are alternatives to this, such as mini stepper machines designed to make an activity a seamless part of office work.

If you want an inexpensive way of exercising at your desk, however, there are various desk-based exercise tutorial apps that provide great step-by-step suggestions.

Related: Apps That Make Fitness More Fun

Increased Activity During Office Times

With inactivity being easy to fall into, finding ways to move more while at work is a great idea. With the tips mentioned above, it doesn’t even have to take time away from your tasks.

Commit to increasing activity in the workplace, and you’ll see how seamless it can be. Plus, you’ll benefit from your new healthy routine, and possibly even get your teammates to join in with you.

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