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Do you exercise at work?  86 percent of American workers sit at a desk all day for their job.(1)  If you are part of this large percentage, your sitting habits are seriously hindering your health.  “Sitting Disease” can negatively affect your metabolism, cause eyestrain from prolonged staring at a computer screen, and it increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Let’s discuss how to exercise at work. 

Striving to be healthy is something you have to work for every day, but doing so can help in many aspects of your life.  WebMD has some quick exercise tricks for your next work break.

Quick cardio-boosting ways to exercise at work:

  • Glance at the wall clock and rip off a minute’s worth of jumping jacks.  If you’re a beginner, try the low-impact version (raise your right arm and tap your left toe to the side while keeping your right foot on the floor; alternate sides)
  • Do a football-like drill of running in place for 60 seconds.  Get those knees up!  (Beginners, march in place.)
  • Simulate jumping rope for a minute: Hop on alternate feet, or on both feet at once.  An easier version is to simulate the arm motion of turning a rope, while alternately tapping the toes of each leg in front.
  • While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds.  Repeat 3-5 times.
  • If you can step into a vacant office or conference room, shadow box for a minute or two.  Or just walk around the room as fast as you can.
  • Or do walk-lunges in your office or a vacant room.  (You could also amuse your co-workers by doing these in the hall).
  • No conference room?  Take to the stairs – two at a time if you need a harder workout!  Do this 5-7 times a day.

Quick strength-building exercises:

  • Do one-legged squats (hold onto a wall or table for support) while waiting for a web page to load, a copier to print, or a fax to go through.
  • Stand with one leg straight and try to kick your buttocks with the other.
  • Sitting in your chair, lift one leg off the seat, extend it out straight, hold for 2 seconds; then lower your foot (stop short of the floor) and hold for several seconds.  Switch; do each leg 15 times.
  • To work your chest and shoulders, place both hands on your chair arms and slowly lift your bottom off the chair.  Lower yourself back down but stop short of the seat, hold for a few seconds.  Do this 15 times.
  • To stretch your back and strengthen your biceps, place your hands on the desk and hang on.  Slowly push your chair back until your head is between your arms and you’re looking at the floor.  Then slowly pull yourself back in.  Again, 15 of these.
  • Desk pushups can be a good strengthener.  (First, make sure your desk is solid enough to support your weight.)  Standing, put your hands on the desk.  Walk backward, then do push-ups against the desk.  Repeat 15 times.

Quick stretching exercises:

  • Sitting tall in your chair, stretch both arms over your head and reach for the sky.  After 10 seconds, extend the right hand higher, then the left.
  • Let your head loll over so that your right ear nearly touches your right shoulder.  Using your hand, press your head a little lower (gently, now).  Hold for 10 seconds. Relax, and then repeat on the other side.
  • Try this yoga posture to relieve tension: Sit facing forward, then turn your head to the left and your torso to the right, and hold a few seconds.  Repeat 15 times, alternating sides.
  • Sitting up straight, try to touch your shoulder blades together.  Hold, and then relax.
  • You get to put your feet up for this one!  To ease the hamstrings and lower back, push your chair away from your desk and put your right heel up on the desk.  Sit up straight, and bend forward just until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg.  Flex your foot for a few seconds, and then point it.  Bend forward a little farther, flex your foot again, and hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.

Striving to be healthy is something you have to work for every day, but doing so can help in many aspects of your life.

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Schedule mini-workout breaks into your phone or computer to alert you when to get up and move.  Use some of your lunch break to walk around outside, weather permitting.  Walk to your co-worker’s desk instead of calling them on the phone.  Any of these small efforts can benefit your body and mind greatly.

And don’t forget, the healthier you are, the cheaper your life insurance.  Curious about how much life insurance could cost you?  Run a term life insurance quote to find out.  It only takes 30 seconds, which leaves you plenty of time to go on a walk.


(1) U.S. News – Sitting Disease: The Slow, Silent and Sedentary Killer of the American Workforce


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About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius, CLU

Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert

Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.