Sneaking in Some Workplace Fitness

6 Exercises You Can do At Work

Exercise. Watch your diet. We’ve all heard it, for years. Research by the University of Australia* should scare the bejeezus out of all of us, stating that the sedentary lifestyle of sitting at work all day with little to no physical exertion increases our risk of dying of all causes.

Yet, when your day goes something like this — wake up, shower, must have coffee, drop off kids, commute, work 9 hours, commute, pick up kids, dinner, check Facebook, clean up … exhausted — it’s hard to find time for an hour of cardio. I’ll be the first to admit it: I don’t exercise as much as I should or would like to. Though, I do try to sneak in a quick run, crunches or a little Xbox Kinect when I can. Recently, I asked old friend and fit-gal, Jennifer Miller, for some helpful fitness advice for those of us sitting in an office all day.


The Big Squeeze

Contract your gluteus maximus and hold for two counts. Repeat for three sets of 30. This is one that you could do several times throughout the day. The best part is no one will even know you’re toning. That’s multi-tasking at it’s best! You can even do these squeezes with other major muscle groups. Added bonus: the feeling of relaxation after your toes unclench.

Stretch It All Out

Now that you’ve squeezed everything, stretch it back out. Stretches are perhaps the only overt exercises that you can do without drawing much attention to yourself. Many people can feel stress build up in their necks, so remember to stretch it out a few times a day. Tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder while keeping those shoulders decidedly un-hunched.  Feels good, right?  Now tilt it to the left and hold for a few seconds.

Under-The-Desk Lift

Sitting nice and straight in your chair with your hands holding on to the sides of your chair, lift both bent legs up and hold for two. Lower without touching the floor, and repeat for two sets of 20. Extra bonus: you’re working your abs and quads, too.

“I Was Just Looking At Something Over My Shoulder” Twist

Still focusing on your core and sitting nice and tall, either clasp your hands in front of you or hold a water bottle in front of your chest. The straighter your arms, the harder you’re gonna work. Keeping your bottom half stationary, slowly twist your torso and arms to the right, contracting your core muscles, until you can look over your right shoulder.  Return to center and alternate sides.

Tip-Toe Tweak

Waiting for your 500 collated copies to print? Do some calf raises. Start with feet shoulder-width apart, facing forward and raise your calves up then down for 25. Next set: stand pigeon-toed. Third set: use duck feet. Before you know, those copies are done and you did something good for your body.

Walk. Walk. Walk.

Stop emailing, get up, walk to your co-workers and have a conversation. Take the stairs to the sixth floor versus the elevator. Or, you could get all 80′s career gal and bring sneakers to work for a lunchtime stroll. Find a reason to walk somewhere – anywhere – at least once every hour.


My employer offers yoga, pilates and Zumba classes in the cafeteria after work, and many companies boast on-site fitness facilities available at no cost to employees as well as a long list of other wellness programs. If you haven’t done so already, check with your HR department about potential gym membership discounts, too. When you’re healthy and feel good about yourself, you’re less likely to be absent from work and more likely to be productive. I’m no fitness expert, but I do know that when I workout regularly, I have more energy and a more positive attitude!

There are some very cool apps that you can download to jump start your workout routine and help you stay motivated. I downloaded a free version of Ab Workout from FitKit and several Daily Workout Apps; I like these because they have 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 minute workout routines to choose from, allowing me to sneak in some exercise when I can.


I wish that I was someone who could wake up at 5 a.m. and go for a 10-mile run before work, but I’m not. While I eat pretty responsibly, I am a sucker for carby-sweets. Working out and being uber-healthy is a lot of work for me. But, I am hoping that I can make some lifestyle changes so that I can keep up with my kids and grow old gracefully. Hopefully this little post has given you some workplace fitness ideas or, at the very least, has you thinking about the healthy changes you can start making today.

* Forbes wrote an article on the Australian research that you can access here.

Do you have workplace exercise ideas? How do you sneak in fitness while on the clock? Share your healthy living tips below.

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. Manisha Mande says

    I love the 15 min Zumba videos I have @ home. On the days u can’t go to the gym I use them and they r fun. Three buildings in my office complex are interconnected and I walk during lunch with colleagues.
    Like this article.


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