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Staying Active at a Desk Job: How To Stay Fit While You Sit

staying active at a desk job

You may have never thought of freelancing as a desk job before. But, just because you are your own boss, that doesn’t change the fact that you probably spend most of your working hours hunched over a computer.

Staying active at a desk job is integral to both your health and your productivity. In fact, 18 studies encompassing over 800,000 participants have associated too much sitting with diabetes, heart disease, and early death.

But working at your computer for long hours every day is a part of the job. You can’t just stop without destroying your livelihood. So in this post, we’re going to look at several easy ways to stay fit while you sit.

6 Strategies for Staying Active at a Desk Job

Ready to do everything you can to keep healthy while you work at your desk? Here are six strategies that don’t require a lot of extra work but can pay off in a big way. All it takes is making little changes to your usual routines.

#1 Sit on an Exercise Ball

One simple way to get a little more active at the desk every day is to use an exercise ball instead of a traditional chair. Making this simple switch will burn an extra 30 calories a day on average. 

While this isn’t a ton, that number is if all you do is sit on the ball instead of a chair. If you also integrate bouncing, swaying, and other ball exercises throughout the day, the extra calorie burn can really add up.

#2 Switch to a Standing Desk

According to one study, switching to a standing desk provides more than health benefits. It also boosts productivity.

The study looked at 167 workers in a Texas call center over a six month period. By the end of the sixth month, the workers who used standing desks completed 53 percent more successful calls than their sitting counterparts.

You may balk at the idea of standing all day, and even the Harvard Health Blog points out that simply replacing sitting with standing could lead to unforeseen leg and back problems. For this reason, you may want to invest in an adjustable desk that can function for both sitting and standing work.

Of course, if you work at home, you might be able to just use a taller piece of furniture, like your kitchen counter. This lets you work while standing without spending an extra cent.

#3 Stretch at the Desk

According to Healthline, too much desk work can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain—as well as carpal tunnel syndrome and increased stress.

Stretching regularly can help increase blood flow to muscles, relieve stress, and prevent pain associated with maintaining the same position for too long. Consider setting yourself a timer to remind you to stretch these body parts at least once an hour:

  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Hamstrings  

#4 Put Gym Time on the Schedule

There is no doubt that you are busy. In fact, you probably have so much work to do everyday that you don’t even schedule it out. A lot of freelancers survive by putting out fire after fire—focusing on whatever seems most important to them in the moment.

When you’re in survival mode, it can be really hard to stop yourself to work out. But the benefits to your health, mindset, and productivity are too important to miss out on.

So whether you’re working out at home or hitting the gym, scheduling time for exercise is crucial to staying active at a desk job. Aim for at least 2 or 3 days a week, put it on the calendar, and stick to it religiously.

#5 Take 3 Walks a Day

Many health experts recommend walking at least 10,000 steps a day. At a moderate pace, this would take about an hour and a half for most people.

Who has an extra 90 minutes for walking every day? That can be a lot of time to carve out in one huge chunk.

But if you can fit in three 20 minute walking breaks every day, you’re already more than halfway there. And once you add in the typical 3,000 steps that most people take already, the goal becomes a lot more reasonable.

Walks do more than just burn calories, too. They can be a great way to reset your mind, brainstorm, or work through a creative problem. 

Whenever your daily work is starting to burn you out, don’t distract yourself with social media. Take a walk instead.

#6 Schedule Walking Meetings

On the quest to get more steps in every day, meetings are your mortal enemy. A lot of digital freelancers have the luxury of never having to meet with their clients. But sometimes, they can’t be avoided.

If you have to meet with clients or team members, whether it’s in person or by videoconference, consider making it a walking meeting. It might feel like an awkward request to make, but everyone is more health conscious these days. Odds are good that the idea will be met with enthusiasm.

A video conference might be a little tougher to work with. After all, staring at your phone as you walk the city streets is a recipe for an accident. If you have a treadmill to work with, that would be ideal. If not, set yourself up somewhere inside where it is easy to walk in place as you chat.

How to Stay Fit at a Desk Job – What’s Your Secret?

How about you? What do you do to stay fit while you sit?

Staying active at a desk job isn’t hard. It just takes the discipline to make little changes to your usual routines.

Let us know in the comments what your secret is to keeping yourself healthy at work.

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