Dominique Gummelt, PhD by Dominique Gummelt, PhD

Do you work in an office setting? Does your job require you to sit a majority of the day? The unfortunate trend in the United States is that many of us sit more and more, whether it is at work or at home. In fact, 25 percent of the U.S. population is not active at all (CDC, 2010). From work environments to the home to transportation, modern life seems to consistently tempt us to sit more and move less—a tragic trend in environmental design and human behavior. 

Is there anything that we can do to combat the ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle we are all adopting (perhaps unintentionally)? Fortunately, there are plenty of options to foster physical activity and exercise habits, whether you are working in an office setting or have fallen victim to a sedentary way of life. 

First, let’s consider some practical ways you can simply move more and sit less when you are at the office: 

1. Create a standing or moving workstation.

standing workstation

Examples: adjustable standing desk addition, movable standing laptop desk, treadmill desk, stationary bicycle desk 

Free option: Build a standing desk addition by putting a box and/or some books stacked on top of each other on your desk to place your laptop or desktop (for good posture, you need to stack them to an appropriate height). 

2. Replace your regular office chair with a resistance ball.

Sitting on resistance ball

Several sizes of inexpensive resistance balls are available. Be sure to choose one that is the right height in relation to your desk to promote good posture. Sitting on a resistance ball engages your core and may assist with improving posture. Begin by sitting on the ball for short periods of time throughout the day, gradually reducing the amount of time you spend sitting on a traditional office chair. 

3. Phone time = walk time

Every time your phone rings, get up and walk around in your office space. This will assist you with building an associative positive habit. 

4. Meeting time = standing time (or walking time) 

Movement increases productivity, which may help convince your colleagues and supervisors to conduct meetings while standing or walking. If no one is excited about your suggestion, start the trend and stand ormove during meetings.

5. The 30-minutes challenge

Set an alarm on your cell phone to alert you every 30 minutes. As soon as the alarm goes off, complete a two-minute physical activity challenge such as:

  • Walking in place, pulling the knees higher toward the belly button
  • Use your office chair to sit down and get up repeatedly for as long as you can during the two minutes 

Here are some basic exercises that can be done in your office space (even for the above-mentioned 30-minutes challenge). Depending on your current fitness and ability level, the number of sets and reps for each will vary. 

Office desk push-ups. Use one edge of your desk to complete push-ups (some may prefer to just do them on the floor)

desk push-ups

Office chair triceps dips. Use a chair to perform triceps dips.

triceps dips

Office walking lunges. Use the entire office space to complete walking lunges (from one end to the other).

walking lunges

Office wall sits. Use a small wall space in your office, lean against it and squat down so that there is 90-degree angle about your knees (hold as long as you can)

Wall sits

Office standing calf raises. Perform standing calf raises, holding on to your office chair if balancing is initially challenging. 

calf raises


For a greater challenge, set aside 20 to 30 minutes of your lunch hour to complete a variety of exercises or to walk outside. If the 30-minute challenge is not an option for you, you can complete the exercises listed above during this lunchtime fitness session. To engage in more vigorous exercise, find a staircase that you can use to complete up-and-down challenges. 

For more variety, enjoyment and greater challenge, consider building your own office mini-fitness center. Basic fitness equipment that is not very expensive could include:

-Jump rope
-BOSU ball
-Medicine ball
-Resistance ball
-Resistance bands 

Don’t fall victim to sedentary environmental design and increasing sitting behavior patterns and start moving more today. Innovative office fitness ideas can increase your quality of life, work productivity and sense of wellbeing, and decrease your risk for disease. Positively impact not only your own life, but also the lives of your colleagues and bosses by making your office space a movement space.