Kelley Vargo by Kelley Vargo

The day-to-day grind can take its toll on our health pretty quickly if we’re not careful. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, the prevalence of sedentary jobs have risen 83 percent since 1950. Couple this with our nation’s obesity crisis and it’s easy to see how the workday can impede our quest for health and fitness. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five easy-to-incorporate ways to increase physical activity throughout the workday (and they don’t involve performing dips off the edge of your desk).

1. The Commute

Whether you’re in the burbs or in the city, there are a few ways to increase your energy expenditure while going to and from the office. One of the best ways to increase your exercise throughout the day is trading in your car for a bike. Obviously, this is a more realistic option if you live in an urban setting. In fact, some fitness facilities offer “shower passes” that enable bikers to shower for work after riding in. Biking to work isn’t always feasible, especially if the route isn’t rider-friendly or there are little ones in the car. That’s okay—there are other ways to transform your conventional commute into an active one. Parking farther from the office when you get to work provides an opportunity to get in some extra steps. A bonus for the car: you can keep athletic shoes and clothes in the trunk. Before you leave for the day, slip on your athletic shoes and go for a walk or a run before making the drive home.

2. The Stairs

Who needs a gym membership when you can take the stairs? O.K., so the stairs don’t replace the gym, but they are a great way to add in exercise throughout the workday. Scoping out the stairwell might take a little effort, because most stairways are off to the side of buildings, but the extra effort will add up over time. To make taking the stairs more enticing, bring a colleague with you or challenge your coworkers to take on the “stair rule,” which is pretty simple: Always take the stairs!

3. The Lunch Hour

This is a great opportunity to get in a walk. Although lunch “hours” vary, some time is typically allotted for meals. While you shouldn’t forgo lunch, this is an opportunity to get in some exercise, too. If you have an hour available for lunch, why not spend 30 minutes walking and 30 minutes eating? To assist with the lunch-hour walk, keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk. Again, this is a great opportunity to partner up with a coworker who might share similar health and wellness goals. Adding in a walk during the lunch hour not only increases your physical activity level for the day, it also can help clear the mind, making for a more productive afternoon.

4. The Meetings

This one may take a little convincing, especially if you aren’t the one holding the meeting, but why not take your weekly gatherings outdoors for a walk? Walking meetings work well for smaller meetings consisting of one to four people. By getting up and being active, the meeting itself is more stimulating and engaging. It’s also a lot harder to text, check email, Facebook, etc., if you are walking and carrying on a conversation. Holding a moving meeting provides a fresh environment to stimulate thinking, conversation and energizing activity.

5. The Desk

One of the best ways to significantly increase your physical activity level throughout the workday is to have a standing desk. There are some great standing-desk options on the market, but you don’t have to spend a penny. Create a “do-it-yourself” standing desk by placing some books under the computer monitor and keyboard until they are at a comfortable height for working while standing. The transformation from sitting for eight hours a day to standing eight hours a day can make a huge difference. After all, recent statistics on sedentary behavior suggest that sitting too many hours per day is really detrimental to your health.  

So there you have it, five do-it-yourself ways to increase your activity throughout the workday. Let us know how it goes by tweeting us @acefitness #workworkout!