Staying Healthy at Work: Exercises at Your Desk + Avoiding the Office Flu


For many, we spend our weekdays sitting and staring at a bright screen, sometimes taking a break to grab a coffee or lunch, and don’t stretch our legs until the 5 o’clock hour arrives. But, as we all know, exercise therapy is best done throughout the day, every day. Finding ways to get moving and to stay healthy can be difficult in the office space, but we have a few simple ideas to help.

Exercise [Inconspicuously] at Your Desk
Both of these exercises can be done while sitting in your desk chair.

  1. Start by sitting in your desk chair, with both feet resting on the ground. Lift one leg up, extend completely straight with your foot flexed, and hold for a few seconds. Lower down slowly, — returning to original sitting position — hovering your foot just above the floor, and then place firmly on the ground. Repeat with the other side. Alternate legs for 15 reps.
  2. Place your hands on your chair arms and slowly lift your bottom off of your chair. Hold, and then lower yourself back down slowly. Hover above the seat for a few seconds before dropping back down in your seat. Repeat 15 times.

Help Your Immune System
The office — a space where many people are touching the same door handles, preparing food in the same break room, and using the same restroom — is an arena where sickness often is victorious against even the mightiest of immune systems.

Your keyboard is a haven for bacteria, so make sure you are sanitizing this area frequently, especially this time of year. Also, you should be washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer in between. If the thought of rubbing an alcohol product on your winter-dry hands sounds unappealing, opt for this moisturizing hand sanitizer.

Get Moving
When you’re waiting for your lunch to warm up in the microwave, get in jumping jacks, high knees, or stimulate jumping rope.

Instead of eating lunch at your desk as you work, use the lunch hour to walk around outside in the sunshine and get some vitamin D. Create a pact with a coworker where you agree to walk together each day to help keep you accountable.

Beat the Afternoon Slump
When you’re feeling sluggish in the afternoon, it’s probably because you didn’t drink enough water throughout the day. Get a 16 oz. water bottle, like this one, and make it a daily goal to drink two bottle’s worth of water by lunch. Set timers as a subtle reminder to drink throughout the day.

In addition to helping with energy, drinking water can help with brain function and weight loss, and may prevent and treat headaches.

Stay Inspired
After a few months of having the same “inspiring” artwork or items at your desk, the excitement and “joy factor” plummets. Change up your desk surroundings, and pare things down, but not too much: not having any decorations actually hurts your concentration.

Princeton University neuroscientist, Sabine Kastner, MD, PhD, explains “we need a certain amount of clutter to operate normally … a completely sterile desk area is depressing — the brain needs some stimulation to be productive.”

We hope these tricks for implementing exercise therapy and healthy habits into your workday are helpful. Work these tips into your New Year’s resolutions so you’re more motivated to stick with them. If another one of your resolutions is to be pain-free, schedule an appointment with us and we’ll help you get started in reaching your goal.


Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy