How to Stay Fit at Work

It turns out that many of us have to work for a living? No longer can that be an excuse for not staying fit.

Nora Tobin, Fitness Contributing Editor for Shape Magazine, offers “Top 5 Moves to Increase Energy and Focus at Work” in the Huffington Post:

“A few minutes of movement can work wonders for your body and mind. You do not have to change into your gym clothes and sweat it out. You don’t even have to lay on a mat. All it takes is a five-minute workout that has been specifically designed to be done at the workplace. There is no equipment required and you will be able to return back to your desk roaring to go.”

So what can you do in five minutes? Tobin lists squats, mini-hops, standing crunches, arm raises and legs-up-the-wall.

Tobin says these exercises can be done during lunch. They likely also could be done other times during the day. As she notes: “Perform each exercise as fast as possible for one minute. If you have 10 minutes, repeat the entire routine.”

38 Ways to Help You Stop Sitting, Start Standing

We’ve reported regularly on the negative effects of sitting. So what are some tips to get folks out of their seats and standing more? A new study has found 38 of them.

Reports the Wall Street Journal: “Scientists also are studying how to induce people to sit less.”

One study titled “How to reduce sitting time? A review of behaviour change strategies used in sedentary behaviour reduction interventions among adults” was recently published in the Health Psychology Review.

The study states: “Sedentary behaviour – i.e., low energy-expending waking behaviour while seated or lying down – is a health risk factor, even when controlling for physical activity. This review sought to describe the behaviour change strategies used within interventions that have sought to reduce sedentary behaviour in adults. Studies were identified through existing literature reviews, a systematic database search, and hand-searches of eligible papers. Interventions were categorised as ‘very promising’, ‘quite promising’, or ‘non-promising’ according to observed behaviour changes.”

In terms of results, the study found 38 “interventions,” or ways to help change behavior: ” Twenty-six eligible studies reported thirty-eight interventions, of which twenty (53%) were worksite-based. Fifteen interventions (39%) were very promising, eight quite promising (21%), and fifteen non-promising (39%).”

The WSJ reports that Benjamin Gardner, senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College in London and first author of the article stated that: “Among those that worked: educating people about the benefits of less sitting time; restructuring work environments, such as adding standing or adjustable desks; setting goals for the amount of time spent sitting; recording sitting times; and creating cues or alerts for people when they need to stand.”

Additionally, the study reports:

  • “Very or quite promising interventions tended to have targeted sedentary behaviour instead of physical activity.”
  • “Interventions based on environmental restructuring, persuasion, or education were most promising.”
  • “Self-monitoring, problem solving, and restructuring the social or physical environment were particularly promising behaviour change techniques.”
  • “Future sedentary reduction interventions might most fruitfully incorporate environmental modification and self-regulatory skills training.”

Videos: Stand More, Sit Less

As we continue our reporting on the ills of sitting too much at work — and the ways to help change behavior — two videos that help inspire and tell the story.

The first is from, which states: “In our modern sedentary culture we sit way too much. That’s what we learn learn day after day in the news.

But research also highlights the obvious remedy: standing!”

The second is a TED talk by Nilofer Merchant, a “business innovator [who] thinks deeply about the frameworks, strategies and cultural values of companies.” 

You can watch the video here.

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More Ideas to Stand More at Work

We remained intrigued from a recent post that citied a study that identified 38 ways (“interventions”) to help folks stop sitting and start standing more at work.

So we sought more ideas.
Cornell University’s Ergonomics team “presents information from research studies and class work by students and faculty in  the Cornell Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group (CHFERG).” They focus on “Human-Centered Design” and “ways to enhance usability by improving the ergonomic design of hardware, software, and workplaces, to enhance people’s comfort, performance and health in an approach we call  Ergotecture.  We recognize that this is also as an important component of the Department’s Ecotecture sustainable design approach.”
Some ideas CUErgo offers:
  • “Sit to do computer work.”
  • “Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 8 minutes AND MOVE for 2 minutes.”
  • “The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and stand and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient.”
  • “Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. And movement is FREE!
  • “Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient.”
  • “So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).”

For more inspiration, check out the TED poster below:


One Antidote to Sitting Too Much at Work: Stand

We have reported frequently on the importance of moving — not sitting — regularly at work.

Of course, in some work environments, finding the time or space to move can be difficult (though, of course, we all can take stairs instead of elevators, hold walking meetings, etc.). A new study highlights the benefits of a simple antidote to sitting: Stand.

Reports the University of Pittsburgh: “Alternating positions between standing and sitting while performing deskwork could make the difference in whether the thin red needle in your bathroom scale tilts to the left or the right of your goal weight.”

“A new study from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education examined the potential weight management benefits of sit-stand desks. Pitt’s researchers found that regular use of a height-adjustable workstation, when combined with other low-intensity activities, is an effective measure for maintaining weight for most people.”

The study, titled “Energy expenditure of deskwork when sitting, standing or alternating positions,” was published by the Oxford Journal of Occupational Medicine.

Said Bethany Barone Gibbs, the study’s lead researcher and an assistant professor of health and physical activity within Pitt’s School of Education: 

“Sit-stand desks are an easy way to get a boost in energy expenditure that fits into America’s current office culture. By combining the act of standing for part of the day with other casual activities—say, opting to walk to the printer farthest away from your work area or choosing to use the restroom that’s located a couple of flights of stairs away—you can achieve a meaningful amount of extra energy expenditure while at work that could aid in weight control. It is important that we understand standing at work isn’t going to burn as many calories as going for a brisk walk or a long run. However, our findings add to a growing field of research that shows the benefits of sit-stand desks, including increases in productivity and energy, and lower pain, blood sugar, and potentially blood pressure.”

The Pitt report continues:

“The study found that if an individual were to stand for half of one hour—30 minutes—they could burn 5.5 more calories than they would have by sitting for that entire hour. Standing for the full hour burned an extra 8.2 calories. Switching evenly between sitting and standing over the course of an eight-hour day—four hours sitting and four hours standing—could result in an energy expenditure of as much as 56.9 calories for men and 48.3 calories for women.”

Pitt’s researchers acknowledge that the actual caloric expenditure from using a sit-stand desk in isolation is modest. Within their research, they point to separate studies that suggest small increases in daily physical activity, just 100 calories per day, would be enough to prevent weight gain in most individuals. When aligned with such advice, researchers believe regular usage of sit-stand desks could be one of many small energy expenditure changes in the work environment that would help office workers to maintain their weight.

Too Much Sitting Hurts All of Us — Even Sports Fans?


The negative effects of too much sitting continue to get noticed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, confirms “For every half-hour working in an office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and then move around and stretch for two minutes.” This is “based on a review of studies that he has presented at corporate seminars and expects to publish.”

The post states: “The British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year published guidelines for sitting from an international panel of experts, including Dr. Hedge. The panel recommends a combined two to four hours of standing and light activity spread throughout the workday. And research from NASA has found that standing up for two minutes 16 times a day while at work is an effective strategy for maintaining bone and muscle density.”

More confirmation on the ills of sitting via the WSJ piece: “Studies have found that sedentary behavior, including sitting for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.”

For a tongue -in-cheek look at this serious problem, see the Wall Street Journal sports reporter’s lament: “Sports Sitting Will Kill Us All: Amid a growing belief in the long-term health risks of sitting, what is a sports fan to do?”