Can you keep fit at your desk?

When it comes to working in an office, a lot of us find it difficult to keep the lbs at bay. And it is not exactly made easy when you are faced with the temptations of sugary snacks, vending machines and work meals… the calories can soon begin to mount up.

Yet, weight gain at work is becoming an increasingly big problem…

In a 2001 study by the University of Chicago they found that those working in a sedentary career ended up with a BMI 3.3 units higher than those who had an active job.

And this study was done 10 years ago. Who knows how big this difference is now!

So what can I do?

Now before you consider ditching the job you love for a more active one, working in an office doesn’t necessarily have to lead to weight gain.

In fact by using the following tips, you can learn how to stay fit at your desk and maintain your weight.


Now, the idea of exercising at your desk may sound comical but it is possible to do stretching, muscle strengthening and even aerobic exercise whilst you are at work. Take these routines for example:

60 Second Aerobics: improving your heart variability – its ability to jump from resting to pumped – has been found to decrease your chances of heart disease. For this reason, try to do these at work:

  1. For 60 seconds do jumping jacks
  2. Lifting your knees high, run on the spot for 60 seconds
  3. Pretending you have a skipping rope, hop from one foot to the other whilst simulating the arm motion of turning a rope
  4. Sitting at your desk, pump both of your arms into the air for 30 seconds, before rapidly tapping your feet on the floor for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times
  5. If you have got an empty conference room, walk around the room as fast as you can for 60 seconds. Alternatively do walk lunges.
  6. If your office has got stairs, begin by walking up and down them as fast as you can before progressing to taking the stairs 2 steps at a time. Do this 5 times a day

Fitness Exercises: these are particularly useful if you don’t want to leave yourself too out of breath to answer the phone:

  1. Holding a table or wall for support do one-legged squats
  2. Standing straight, kick your bum with alternating feet
  3. Sitting at your desk, lift one leg off your seat, extend it out, hold for 2 seconds, then lower until it is just off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds and switch legs. Do this 15 times
  4. If you have got a sturdy chair, place both of your hands on the arm rests and lift your bum from off the chair. Lower yourself down until you are just above your seat and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 15 times
  5. Pushups are not only for the floor. You can use your desk too. Simply place your hands on the desk, walk backwards and then proceed to do 15 pushups.

Stretching Exercises: it is good to keep yourself limber at work as this will help to relieve stress and stop your muscles from cramping. Give these a try:

  1. Sitting in a chair, stretch your arms above your head and pretend you are reaching for the sky. Hold for 10 seconds, then try to extend your right arm higher than your left. Hold for 10, then switch sides
  2. Allowing your head to loll to your right, gently press your hand against the side of your head and try to lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, then repeat but this time on your left
  3. To help relieve your tension, whilst sitting turn your head to the left and your torso to the right. Hold, then repeat 15 times remembering to alternate sides
  4. Pushing your chair away from your desk, place your right heel on your desk whilst sitting up straight. Next bend forward, until you can feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Flex your foot and then point it. At this point try to bend even further forward, hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat but on the other side

Alternative exercises: if you don’t fancy doing all these exercises at your desk, there are other ways for you to stay fit at work:

  1. Go for a 40 minute walk every day on your lunch break
  2. If there is a gym close to your office, try to go for a 30 minute session during lunch. Swim or in the gym, go several times a week and you can increase your calorie burn
  3. Forget using Skype to talk to your work friends. Take a stroll to their desk

Remember to eat: Now this tip can go 2 ways. One where you forget to eat until you get home, so you end up binging on fatty foods. Or two, where you snack continuously over the course of the day without taking into account the number of calories you are eating.In both cases, it is important that you remember to eat, but that you make the right food choices. I suggest, pre-packing your lunch and snacks before you get to the office so you aren’t tempted to buy anything else when you are there.

Similarly, it is important that you eat  something healthy i.e. 2 sandwiches (filled with cheese, chicken, ham or beef), a jacket potato or a bowl of pasta. In terms of snacks  opt for crackers, low calorie energy bars, fruit and nuts.

As you can see, staying fit at work – especially in a sedentary job – doesn’t have to feel unattainable. Even incorporating a few of these exercises will help to tone your muscles, get your heart pumping and keep your metabolism working hard.

So give them a go…

You may feel silly at first, but with practice they will make a difference to your weight loss

Hello there! :) My name is Emilia Smith and I love to help people look and feel better. I am the main researcher on and keep it up-to-date with the best solutions available on the market for a wide variety of health needs!


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