Skip to main content

Move Throughout the Day

Updated May 28, 2020
Thumbnail

Hope Kleine

SDSU Extension Health Education & Food Safety Field Specialist

Two young women doing leg raise exercises in a small studio space.

Written collaboratively by Hope Kleine and Kylie Serie.

Many studies have proven the benefits that exercise has on your health, both physical and mental. However, we live in a culture that consistently promotes sedentary behavior. From desk jobs during the day to Netflix binging at night, we have a chronic “sitting” problem. One recent study talks about the negative implications that sitting too long can have on your health. Just a few of these include an increased risk for developing obesity, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders or pain, loss of muscle mass and even some types of cancers.1 On the other end, breaking up your sedentary time has many benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. A few of these include decreased stress, increased concentration, increased productivity, better mood, health outcomes, and overall quality of life.2,3

So, the big question is, what can be done to promote regular movement throughout the day?

A good rule to live by is moving a little each hour. Many smart watches or activity trackers will prompt you to get active if you have been sitting too long. This is a great reminder to get up and get moving! If you don’t have a smart watch, use your phone. Set an alarm or set an event in your work calendar that reminds you to get up and move. The movements do not have to be rigorous. It can be something as simple as pacing in your office while on the phone, taking the long way to the water fountain, or doing office exercises that do not require any equipment.

Try some of the following exercises throughout your day and notice if your productivity, mood, and overall wellbeing improves!

  • Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes in the morning.
  • Park further away from your job and walk the extra distance.
  • Take a lap around the building each time you get up to use the restroom.
  • Pace during phone calls.
  • Go for a walk after dinner with your family.
  • Get moving from your office by doing strengthening or yoga from your desk!

Any of these strategies will help increase your movement throughout the day. You may even come up with a few unique ways to “get moving” that work with your schedule. For extra support, recruit a co-worker to join you in combating the chronic “sitting” problem that is too often the norm in the workplace.

Office Exercises

A young woman demonstrating the wall sit exercise. She is sitting upright against a wall without a chair for support.

Wall Sit

  1. Have your back flat against the wall.

  2. Set feet about shoulder-width apart and about 2 feet out from the wall.

  3. Slide your back down the wall until your legs are at a 90-degree angle. Be sure that your knees do not cross over your ankles, but rather that they stay directly above them.

  4. Keep your lower back against the wall while contracting your abs.

  5. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes and slowly stand.

A young woman demonstrating the wall pushup exercise. She begins by leaning into the wall while using her arms to hold her up in a pushup position. Then raises herself using by straightening her elbows using her upper body muscles.

Wall Pushups

  1. Face a wall and stand a about an arm’s width distance away. Keep feet about hip’s width distance apart.

  2. Lean forward and place your palms on the wall with your hands shoulder-width distance apart.

  3. As you take a breath in, bend your elbows and lower your upper body towards the wall. Keep your body in straight alignment.

  4. As you exhale, push your arms back to the starting position. Complete 20 to 25 repetitions.

A young woman demonstrating the squat exercise. She begins by standing straight with her feet apart. She then lowers her body into a squatting position using her lower body muscles.

Squats

  1. Stand and place your feet about shoulder width distance apart.

  2. Inhale and sit back like you will be sitting on a chair. Keep your shoulders up and do not let your knees cross beyond your toes.

  3. Exhale and return back to a standing position. Complete 20 to 25 repetitions.

A young woman demonstrating the wall plank exercise. She is leaning into a wall at an angle using her forearms and upper body muscles to hold herself up.

Wall Plank

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width distance apart.

  2. Lean forward and place your forearms on the wall. Be sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Engage your core and keep your body in straight alignment.

  3. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes and return to a standing position.

A young woman demonstrating the leg raise exercise. She begins by standing straight and raising her left leg straight out and holding it in place. She the releases the hold and returns to standing position.

Leg Raises

  1. Stand next your desk with your feet about hips-width distance apart.

  2. Place your hands on your hips and engage your core.

  3. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale lift one leg as high as you are able, while keeping your leg straight.

  4. Complete 20 to 25 repetitions on each leg.

Desk Yoga

A young woman demonstrating the chair yoga pose. She is standing upright, slightly squatting with her hands folded in front of her.

Chair Pose

  1. Start by sitting on your office chair. Have your feet a little closer than hips-width distance apart.

  2. Take a deep inhale. As you exhale, lift your hips off the chair. Bring your hands in a prayer position. You can also bring them straight above your head if you would like more of a challenge.

  3. Gaze high and hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat 1 to 3 times.

A young woman demonstrating the forward bend yoga pose. Standing straight, her upper body is bend completely over with her hands touching the floor.

Forward Bend

  1. Stand next to your desk with your feet a little closer than hip-width distance apart.

  2. Take a deep inhale, as you exhale, fold from your hips and keep your spine as long as you can. Keep your legs lengthened.

  3. Hold for 3 to 6 deep breaths. Repeat 1 to 2 times.

A young woman demonstrating the seated cat and cow yoga poses. Beginning in her seat, she raises her shoulders with her neck bend over. The she slowly lowers her shoulders and raises her neck and head upright.

Seated Cat/Cow

  1. Start seated in your chair with your spine long. As you inhale, open your chest and gaze high. Roll your shoulders down your back into cow pose.

  2. As you exhale, tuck your chin and round through your spine into cat pose.

  3. Inhale back into cow pose, and exhale into cat pose. Do 5 to 10 rounds.

A young woman demonstrating the side stretch yoga pose. She begins by raising her hands over her head and folding them together. Then she slowly bends her body from side to side.

Seated Side Stretch

  1. Start seated on your chair with your spine long.

  2. Grasp ahold of your right wrist with your left hand. Inhale to lengthen your spine. As you exhale, tilt your body to the left and stretch through your right-side body. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

  3. Repeat on the opposite side by grasping ahold of your left wrist with your right hand. Inhale to lengthen your spine. As you exhale, tilt your body to the right and stretch though your left-side body.

Related Topics

Physical Activity, Health