How To Become More Physcially Active In The Workplace

How can we become more physically active during the working day?

Deskbound workforces are becoming increasingly aware of how sedentary behaviour negatively impacts health and well-being. So, how can we increase physical activity throughout the workday while meeting deadlines, attending video meetings, and staying productive?

Living In The Hot Seat

The first step towards increasing physical activity at work is to understand what makes us so sedentary. Many of us are guilty of simply moving throughout the day from one seat to the next. We may sit on the bus, on a train, or in a car. We might sit at a computer desk, sit for meetings, and sit during mealtimes. Finally, at the end of the day, many of us retreat to the sofa to… (wait for it), sit in front of the tv before retiring for the night to rest our weary bodies from all that sitting down.

While it may be obvious to declare that sedentary lifestyles are very common for people who work in “desk-based” jobs, sitting for long uninterrupted periods of time has consequences. While some individuals find the time to exercise before or after work, if the rest of the day is spent sitting, our blood flow starts to slow down which affects our circulation and subsequently leaves us feeling sluggish, struggling to retain focus and stay productive. In other words, remaining glued to our desk can affect our progress in the workplace.

Science Has Tested Solutions

Commissaris et al (2015) released a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health detailing a series of interventions, some of which proved to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity during work hours; interventions that complement productive work. The authors reviewed 41 effective interventions that fell under the following categories:

  1. The use of alternative workstations to increase physical activity
  2. Interventions promoting stair use throughout the day
  3. Personalised behavioural interventions to reduce sedentary behaviours

So, what exactly can we do in the workplace to reduce our own sedentary behaviours?

Love a bit of stand up

A stand-up desk or even a desk with an adjustable height function is one way to reduce the amount of time spent sitting. Standing while working increases the blood flow which in turn improves concentration and posture. However, be mindful that you are not tilting your pelvis to one side and loading it unevenly. People often have a more dominant side which we favour when we load our bodies. Check your posture every so often by putting a post-it note on your desk that says "POSTURE".

Go Swiss

Another alternative is to swap an office chair with an exercise ball (swiss ball) for short periods of time, sitting on an exercise ball can increase balance, improve posture, and also strengthen one’s trunk stability.

Location, Location, Location

Additionally, we can increase our physical activity at work by taking our meetings out of the board room to alternative locations such as parks and courtyards. Walking while you meet with your colleagues or conduct business is an excellent way to get some fresh air, clock up your step count and reduce stiffness in otherwise, inactive limbs. It is also crucial to get fresh air during breaks and to avoid eating lunch at one’s desk, so take it outdoors instead. A short burst of activity during lunch time will reenergise the body and boost the endorphins.

Take Liberties

In order to increase physical activity while working from home, take the liberty of stretching regularly, pacing, or walking while attending virtual meetings or calls. You could even try a game or group challenge, (have a look at Don’t Tone Alone CIC’s Deskletics project to incentivise team interactions around healthy activities).

Elevate Your Heart Rate

While in the office, if you find yourself continuously opting for the lift to access your floor, try to take the stairs if it is publicly accessible. You will feel a sense of achievement and it is an excellent way to get the heart rate up.When working from home, take a “stairs-break” and go up and down the stairs a couple of times.

Alarm Yourself

Regarding personalised behavioural interventions, we all have the ability to log our own activity, so try to set a timer and monitor your sitting time at work or set alarms on your phone or watch to remind yourself to move every couple of hours. Take a moment to stretch out your arms and back while sitting to improve your posture and try to uncross your legs as much as possible.

The DTA Message

By introducing these little changes and encouraging your peers and colleagues to do the same, we can increase our physical activity at work and prevent injury. Your body is built to move regularly, by increasing your physical activity throughout the day you can maintain or increase your productivity, your concentration levels, and your mood while minimising the risks that come with sedentary lifestyles.

 #workplacewellbeing #physicalactivityatwork #humanresources #healthyworkenvironments


If you are looking for inspiration to improve your concentration and level of physical activity at work, please check out what Don’t Tone Alone CIC can do for you. We run multiple projects and services that increase physical activity, provide information surrounding positive nutrition, and stress reduction in the workplace. Get in contact to see what Don’t Tone Alone CIC can do for your business.




Commissaris, D. A.C. M., Huysmans, M.A., Mathiassen, S.E., Srinivasan, D., Koppes, L.L.J. and Hendriksen, I.J.M. (2015) ‘Interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity during productive work: a systematic review’, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. Print ISSN: 0355-3140 Electronic ISSN: 1795-990X