10 Ways To Sit Less At Work (Even If Your Boss Won't Spring For A Treadmill Desk)

Sitting is terrible for you, but there are ways to combat the sedentary lifestyle—without gym equipment in the office.

You've heard it before: Sitting is the new smoking.

New research finds that even if you’re active, logging eight hours a day on your rear end in front of the computer can shorten your lifespan.

After this news appeared, there was a flurry of interest in treadmill desks: contraptions that let you work while walking 1.5 mph.

So is this the wave of the future? Probably not. Treadmill desks can be expensive and bulky. Given that much work is done remotely these days, and many companies are reducing their real estate, most of us won’t be walking while typing any time soon.

Fortunately, there are other ways to spend less time sitting. Try these 10 tips to cut time in your chair without turning your cube into a gym franchise.

1. Get a step counter.

A Fitbit, A Nike+ FuelBand, or a Jawbone Up can encourage you to move more by showing how many steps you’ve taken (and pitting you against friends and colleagues if you like). If you see you’re far under 10,000 steps for the day, you might get up and walk the halls rather than surf the web when you need a break.

2. Set an alarm.

Much sitting is unconscious. Set an alarm to remind yourself to get up at least once an hour to grab a drink, stretch, or otherwise engage your muscles.

3. Stay hydrated.

Drinking water has many upsides, but one obvious side effect is you’ll have to hit the bathroom frequently. Try visiting one on the other side of the building or on a different floor to increase your time in motion. Bonus: Refill your water bottle from a water fountain that’s far away as well.

4. Eat elsewhere.

If your favorite lunch joint is a quarter mile away, that’s an extra half mile you’ll walk daily. But even if you’re brown bagging it, find a spot for a picnic and invite colleagues to join you.

5. Take a walking meeting.

If you’ve got a one-on-one scheduled, ask that colleague to walk with you to grab coffee, or try any walking trails or reasonable sidewalks you might have nearby. It may actually be easier to have difficult conversations this way, when you’re walking side by side rather than staring at each other.

6. Do a standing meeting.

A bar-height table in the office kitchen makes a great place for an informal get-together. Not every meeting requires a conference room, and most people are okay to stand for a few minutes.

7. Pace.

Unless you’re taking notes while on the phone, you don’t have to sit. Walk the halls with a headset or move around your office.

8. Try a standing desk.

A desk (or desk addition) that adjusts your screen and keyboard to standing height is less of an investment—and less of a strange sight—than a treadmill. Set a goal to move your chair out of the way twice a day or so, and try standing for a few minutes as you edit a document or send emails.

9. Visit your colleagues.

If you need a quick answer to a question, it’s often as easy to walk to someone’s office as it is to email or call. Face-to-face conversations lower the risk of misinterpretation, too. If you work with people in different buildings, offer to come visit them, rather than snagging the conference room near you.

10. Hit the office gym.

If your company has one, use it, especially if the weather is bad or work in an extremely secure building that’s hard to leave. A moderate 25 minute walk on the treadmill won’t leave you sweaty enough to require a shower, but it will let you catch up on an episode of your favorite TV show while you’re at work. Even without the extra steps, that’s an incentive right there.

[Image: Flickr user Nisa yeh]

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7 Comments

  • Good stuff. Thanks. A few more ideas: If you have a laptop or tablet handy, stand up to read anything longer than a couple of paragraphs. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Move commonly used items like your printer across the room. If you drive to work, park as far away as possible from the building entrance. If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.

  • Great article - the idea of a standing desk is right on. I find that I'm much more likely to walk around and keep moving when I'm standing. Check out the ergonomic, minimalist, sexy, standing desks at www.standingdesks.ca

  • James Moore

    Standing and working is great until you want to work from home or somewhere other than your office standing desk. A better option is something that you can take with you to turn any table into a standing desk http://zestdesk.com/

  • Steve Ferrusi

    I like bike desks. Like the fitdesk. These are affordable and are loved by many. Great reviews on amazon.

  • Sitting is the next health epidemic. Let's shorten meetings and reward people who get moving. A more physically dynamic workday will result in a more productive workday.