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Employee Wellness: Staying Active With A Sedentary Job

 Man walking in an office full of workers

Work. Work. Work. Sometimes it feels that our lives revolve around it. Around 80% of jobs in the United States are considered to be sedentary. The average American works approximately 8 hours a day which is 40 hours a week or 2,080 hours per year. This is a long period of time to be spent sitting at a desk! The more time we spend seated, the higher the risk of adverse health effects such as osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. This leaves us the burning question: what can I do to stay active when my job is considered sedentary?

It is recommended that adults exercise for 150 minutes per week. However, you may find it difficult to complete this as you have just worked a long day. Here are four tips on adding some physical activity into your workday.

1. Take The Stairs

Start off your workday by taking the stairs rather than the elevator. This can be an easy exercise to incorporate into your day as no equipment is needed. By choosing to take the stairs, you may improve your cholesterol levels and build and maintain healthy joints, bones and muscles according to Duke Human Resources. Plus, as little as 2 flights of stairs per day can lead to 6 pounds lost per year.

When given the option to take the stairs or elevator, consider the stairs!

2. Take Advantage of Your Breaks

Whether you take a 30 minute or an hour lunch break, try to go for a walk. There are many benefits to incorporating a daily walk. These include managing or reducing the risk of hypertension, stroke, and diabetes. Walking also has the ability to improve your mood, sleep, and energy level. Try setting aside 5-10 minutes of your break to walk each day until your walk turns into a habit. There is always room to increase time spent walking, however it is important to start somewhere!

3. Invest In a Pedal Exerciser

If you feel like you do not have enough time to take a walk or take the stairs, or are looking for a little more activity, a great tool is the pedal exerciser. The pedal exerciser is practically a mini-exercise bike minus the handle bars. You can place the pedals under your desk and pedal throughout the day. Pedaling is a low impact exercise, which is perfect for everyone. Pedal exercisers not only improve joint health but also helps reduce the risk and occurrence of chronic disease.

4. Stretch Breaks

Stretching is another great way to add some movement into your day. It can decrease your risk for injuries, increase blood flow and help increase the range of motion in your joints. In your desk chair you can do repetitions of leg raises, which could look like holding your legs in the air for 10 seconds, placing them back on the ground and then repeating. Another stretch could be keeping your feet flat on the ground and stretching your arms in the air. There are some many great stretches that can be completed rightat your desk!


Just because you work a sedentary job does not mean you cannot be physically active. Finding time within your day to take a walk, take the stairs, stretch, or use workout equipment under the desk are a few ways to accomplish this. Remember starting small is the best way to create a healthy habit. Start with a 10-minute walk per day and slowly increase it. Try your best to decrease the amount of time you are sedentary to improve your health!

Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by downloading our brochure.

Written by: Haley McKay, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern



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