Woman using under-desk treadmill.

How to Stay Active While Working a Desk Job


Nowadays, many of us find ourselves spending the majority of our day seated at a desk, whether it's in a commercial office setting or at home. 

And while indeed, desk jobs offer many benefits, they also come with their own risks to our health and well-being, especially when sitting for 8+ hours per day in some roles. Extended periods of sitting can lead to a whole range of physical and mental challenges, including muscle tension, poor posture, back pain and decreased energy levels. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to add more movement and activity to your everyday 9-to-5, even if you're stuck at a desk job. And we’re here to help!

    1. Practise Proper Posture

    While you might not necessarily link proper posture to staying fit and active, sitting at a desk all day with incorrect posture can actually do much more damage than you might think. 

    A slouched or hunched over posture can put strain on your muscles, particularly in your neck, shoulders, and back, leading to muscle stiffness, tension, and even chronic pain over time. 

    Woman with painful back while sitting at a desk.By sitting with proper upright posture, you can alleviate these issues and feel more comfortable throughout the day.

    Ensuring that you have correct posture during your working day is also essential for optimal physical performance. This is because, when your body is properly aligned, your muscles can work more efficiently, making it easier to stay active and pursue your fitness goals.

    To practise proper posture at your desk:

    • Sit upright with your knees at or just below hip level
    • Keep your hips as close to the back of the chair as possible, and avoid hunching or leaning over to one side
    • Relax your shoulders and keep your elbows close to your body and your forearms parallel to the ground, resting them on a support
    • Keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest if necessary

    Ergonomic Desk Chairs Can Help!

    To assist with proper posture, we also recommend getting an ergonomic desk chair with lumbar support. 

    For proper lower back support, you want to make sure that your lower back is always slightly arched in order to prevent long periods of hunching or slouching, which is why an ergonomic chair with lumbar support is so helpful they will have a lumbar adjustment (both height and depth) so each user can find the perfect fit to support the inward curve of their lower back.

    Browse our range of quality ergonomic office & desk chairs to support your posture here. And for assistance on what to look for when buying an office chair, check out this blog. 

    2. Carry Out Regular Stretching

    Our bodies were meant to move and change positions, and working at a desk all day is pretty hard going on our muscles. Over time, long periods of sitting in one position with limited movement can start to take a serious toll on them.

    This is why remembering to carry out regular stretching throughout the working day is super important for reducing pains, muscle tensions and overall muscle fatigue.

    What Are The Best Stretches While Sitting at Your Desk?

    There are some simple yet super effective ways you can stretch and move your body without even having to leave your desk:

    • Seated leg raises - While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for up to 10 seconds. Then, lower your leg(s) back to the ground without letting your feet touch the floor.
    • Upper back stretch - Sit up straight and clasp your hands together in front of you. Extend your arms forward, rounding your upper back and shoulders and hold this position for up to 15 seconds. 
    • Chest opener stretch - Sit up straight and interlock your fingers behind your back. Then, while keeping your arms straight, lift your hands away from your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together and hold for up to 30 seconds.
    • Spinal twist stretch - Sit up straight and place one hand on the back of your chair. Twist your torso towards that side, placing your other hand on the outside of your opposite thigh and hold for up to 30 seconds. Switch sides. 

    3.  Take Regular Breaks

    Remembering to take regular breaks throughout the day is so important to ensure you stay fit and active.

    Taking regular breaks allows you to change positions, stretch, and move around, reducing the strain on your muscles and joints and promoting better circulation. Not only is this good for your physical health, but mental health and work performance too. 

    In fact, a study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, which compared the productivity of 16 undergraduate students when breaks were not required with their output when breaks were taken at regular intervals, showed that 75% of students were substantially more productive during the session with breaks. 

    We recommend putting on a timer, such as the Google Chrome Break Timer, to ensure that you are notified to get active throughout your day. When the timer goes off, head out for a walk around the office, around your garden or even to the kitchen to make yourself a cuppa!

    People walking around the office.A quick 2-5 minute break every 30 minutes will do the trick. 

    4. Incorporate Movement in Any Way You Can 

    Throughout your working day, whether you’re in the office or at home, look for opportunities to add physical activity into your routine. 

    For example, take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to a colleague's desk instead of sending an email, or walk or cycle to work instead of driving. 

    It’s also a great idea to get some exercise during your lunch break, whether it be a walk around the block or a gym class. Even if you can only fit in 20-30 minutes, you are guaranteed to feel the difference in your productivity, happiness and fitness levels. 

    In fact, a study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine has found that those who workout for 30-60 minutes at lunch had an average performance and energy boost of 15%. What’s more, 60% of employees claimed that mental performance and ability to meet deadlines improved on the days they exercised. The proof is in the pudding!

    5. Use a Standing Desk

    One of the easiest ways to stay active at a desk job is to use a standing desk. 

    A standing desk is a desk, in case you didn’t already know, is a type of desk that allows you to move from a sitting position to a standing position very easily thanks to a manual or electric adjustment. Not only do standing desks promote better blood circulation, better posture and reduced back pain, they also help you burn more calories than if you were to sit at a normal desk. 

    Manual standing desks will feature a crank handle which, when turned, will allow you to adjust the height of your desk. Electric desks on the other hand feature a motorised lifting system whereby you only need to press a button to adjust the height of the desk. You can read more about the key differences between electric and manual standing desks in this blog.

    If you need additional help choosing a standing desk, get in contact with our expert team today. 

    This leads us nicely onto our 6th point…

    6. Invest in an Under-Desk Treadmill

    In addition to a standing desk, if you want to boost activity levels at your desk even further, why not invest in an under-desk treadmill?

    While the recommended ‘ideal’ number of steps per person a day is 10,000, for many people who work a 9-5 in an office environment, this is just simply not achievable. However, an under-desk treadmill is a convenient way to get to the recommended 10k steps without even having to leave your workspace.

    The Under-Desk Treadmill was designed with busy professionals in mind, helping users burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health, all while you work at your desk. Pretty genius, right?

    7. Use an Exercise Board

    If an under-desk treadmill isn’t your thing but you still want to stay active while at your desk, why not use an exercise board?

    A great example is the Gymba balance board, which is an ecologically made activation board allowing you to effectively ‘walk’ while at your desk while also flexing leg, ankle and feet muscles.

    Simply stand on the board and let its unique walking feature help you stay active while at work!


    There we have it! We hope this blog has provided you with valuable tips for staying active and fit while at your desk all day. Check out our wide range of quality standing desks, ergonomic office chairs and related accessories on our website. 

    And for more tips and insights into the world of office furniture, check out our standing desk news page

    If you need some help or a second opinion, feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly experts today at sales@friskadesk.com or 020 8064 0600.

    What to Look for When Buying an Office Chair

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