9 Tips for a Workout at Your Desk

July 9, 2014

Our society reveres and envies creatives, entrepreneurial types who do what we love all day long, often in the comfort of our own homes. But by the time evening rolls around, even creatives feel a strange combination of completely exhausted and totally wired. The former because we’ve worked all day, often tossing a commute and children into the mix, and the latter because despite this, we’ve spent most of the day just sitting. The best antidote is to mix a little exercise into our sedentary days, but with so much to do, this can seem almost impossible. Here are nine sneaky tricks to help you burn some calories and get some stretching in during your artsy day.

1. Stand While You Work

Doing something as simple as rising from your chair can substantially increase the amount of energy you expend during your day. Standing works your core far more than sitting, improves your balance, and even allows you to burn extra calories by marching in place. While standing desks are all the rage these days, you don’t have to buy a specialized piece of equipment in order to stand while you work: A kitchen counter, a handy mantle, or the top of a low bookshelf will all work well as a makeshift desk.

9 Tips to Turning Your Work Day into a Workout

Setting up your “standing desk” can be ask simple as putting your laptop on a bookcase.

2. Get a Yoga Ball

Switching out your chair for a yoga ball ensures that you sit actively. Although this may be a foreign concept, using a yoga ball for your chair requires balance, firmly planted legs and a taut core, effectively turning your sit into an isometric exercise. Add a bounce as often as possible to up your workout.

3. Use Your Hands Whenever Possible

Although today’s creative work world is largely populated with screens, you can substitute manual activity for lots of tasks normally relegated to your computer or device. For instance, you can take notes with a pen and a journal, or sketch drafts on paper instead of using a program. Once in a while, try completing a project with real materials instead of their widely available electronic counterparts, such as painting on a canvas instead of in Paint, or putting together a photo album with your hands instead of using an online photo book service.

4. Get Inventive With Your Workspace

We tend to cluster all our necessities in one place, even if they are in the same room. Instead, try scattering your tools so that you have to move to get to them. If you’re a carpenter, for example, you might spread your machines around the edges of your shop rather than clustering them next to one another in the center. Crafters can space their bins widely, placing some on low shelves and some on high, and utilizing overlooked corners of the room. Without even realizing it, you’ll get up and go significantly more often.

5. Pace On the Phone

This one’s easy: Instead of sitting in a chair or lounging on a couch while you make a call, try pacing. If you have to take notes, try a clipboard and pencil instead of your computer. Use your phone call as an opportunity to walk up the stairs a few times, or the length of your deck, or do some simple tidying.

6. Space Out Snacks

Let’s face it, food is a wonderful motivator for all animals, including humans. And we need breaks more often than we like to admit. Experiment with splitting up your lunch or large afternoon snack into more, smaller meals. This will give you an opportunity to get up from your work, stretch, leave the room, and be on your feet for a few minutes while you eat. Try to avoid bringing your food back to your workspace; rather, use the opportunity to gaze out the window or interact with your dog.

7. Try a New Tool

New tools are a fantastic way to get your creative juices flowing, and doing something challenging burns more calories than the same old thing. If possible, test out the manual version of an electronic tool, like a new type of pen, a handheld recorder, or a real instrument.

8. Do Secret Yoga

Yoga doesn’t have to involve black pants and a mat. With a little creativity, you can do it right at your desk. Try crossing your legs in your chair and leaning over for a deep hip and groin stretch, first placing the left leg on top and then the right. Stand up in a mountain pose, then put your legs behind you for some lunges. Or simply sit with the tightest core you can manage for as long as you can. Feeling really antsy? Take a few steps back and do a sun salutation: You’ll be glad you did.

9. Head Outside

Nothing beats the Great Outdoors for reducing stress and upping inspiration. Take fifteen minutes to regroup by heading outside and doing a lap around the block, moving quickly to ramp up your energy or slowly to recharge your mental battery.

Creatives often work alone, with little interaction beyond what they have with their computers, tools and perhaps a pet or two. Ungluing your behind from a chair and your eyes from a screen will help you feel more engaged, stay motivated and take the edge off that cranky, wired feeling. And although these tricks won’t take the place of a real workout, you should notice the healthful effects of increased movement within only a few days. Ready … set … work!

How do you fit in some movement to your work day? 

Also by Sarah Beth Moore: 10 Ways to Apply Yoga in Your Daily life 

Related: How to Get Excited About Running

How to Stay Active While Traveling

Active Lifestyle: Are You Sitting Too Much?



Photo: Shane Keaney via Flickr

Sarah Beth Moore is a freelance writer and web designer living in the Pacific Northwest. She has a master's degree in education as well as journalism. In her free time she enjoys chasing her dogs and kids around, burning things in the kitchen and reading old-school science fiction and fantasy.


always stay inspired!