Woman stretching at her desk

How to workout at work

Stuck at your desk? Break out these exercises to sneak in a workout without leaving the office.

If your job keeps you on your feet most of the day, you are already pretty active. But if like many Canadians you spend your day sitting at a desk, try some of these to get up and moving.

The benefits to being physically active at work are not only good for you, but also your co-workers. According to Health Canada employers that have instituted or supported workplace activity programs have noticed improved morale, a sense of well-being, higher energy levels and improved team building among their employees. Talk to your supervisor about these benefits. Heart & Stroke recommends adults accumulate 150 minutes of physical activity per week. No need to do it all at once.  Just try to be active in small increments throughout your day.

Here are 13 ways to get active during your work day, even if you only have 5, 10 or 30 minutes.

Got 5 minutes?  

  • During breaks, use the bathroom on another floor or one that’s farther away.
  • Get up and get water from the cooler or kitchen in another department.

Got 10 minutes?

  • If your company has space available, or in your office with the door closed, do a quick routine, alternating between marching, heel presses, jumping jacks and side touches.
  • Go to the coffee shop next door or across the street for a break instead of heading to your workplace lounge.
  • Try doing stretches at your workstation.  It’s a great stress reliever.
  • Book a walking meeting with a co-worker.
  • Create a strength routine at your workstation. During your lunch hour, warm up by marching in place, then do squats, lunges and push-ups, using your desk or the wall to make your body strong.
  • Offer to run extra errands on your breaks to burn more calories than you would sitting at your desk.

Got 30 minutes?

  • Over lunch, try a “walk-run,” alternating 2 minutes of walking with 2 minutes of running.
  • Enlist 10 or more co-workers, book a meeting room, and hire a yoga or tai chi instructor.
  • Recruit walking club members at lunchtime and walk a different route every day. 
  • Volunteer for field projects that get you out of the office altogether and require you to move more.
  • Sign up at a gym near your workplace for lunch-hour aerobics, treadmill, stationary bicycle or elliptical workout.

For more workplace health ideas, go to Canadian Centre for Occupational Health website.
Before starting any activity program, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional.

This physical activity column was written by a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor and reviewed by Foundation experts.


We welcome your comments on our posts, but ask that you refrain from using profanity and remain courteous and respectful of others' opinions. The Heart and Stroke Foundation reserves the right to remove any comments that are not in compliance with this policy.

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