Keep Active at Work

person exercising and stretching at work

Being active at work can help you be more productive and lower stress. The good news is every bit of activity counts! Read on to find out how much physical activity you need and how to get active at work.

Physical activity and your health

We need about 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of aerobic physical activity per week to feel great, prevent chronic diseases and be healthy. It is also recommended that we do muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week.

Since many of us spend a large part of the day working, including physical activity as part of your workday can help you reach your physical activity goals.

If you have a medical condition, speak to your health professional before starting a physical activity routine. 

Did you know that sitting less is also beneficial? Standing is considered “light physical activity” and also has health benefits.

How to get active at work

During work

  • Stand up and stretch. Whether you spend most of your day standing, sitting, or on the go, a short stretch break each hour can help you fight fatigue and relieve sore muscles.

  • Go for a 15 minute power walk instead of taking a coffee break.

  • If you sit at a desk, get up and move often. Walk down the hall to speak to a co-worker instead of emailing or calling. Consider getting a standing desk or simply standing instead of sitting while taking calls or speaking to coworkers. 

During your lunch hour

  • Take a  walk around the neighbourhood.

  • Walk up and down 5 (or more) flights of stairs. Check that the stairway is safe, clean and has good lighting.

  • Start a lunchtime running, walking or yoga club with friends at work or neighbors in your area.

  • Sign up for a fitness class at your work’s gym or go for a swim at a nearby community centre.   

Before and after work

  • Walk, cycle, in-line skate or wheel to work.

  • Park your car at the far end of the parking lot or get off the bus two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to work. Every little bit counts!

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or get off the elevator a few floors earlier and then walk up to work.   

With the work team

  • Set up standing workstations throughout the office where people can take turns standing for part of their workday.

  • Position printers at far ends of the room to add more steps to the day.

  • Give everyone a pedometer and start a walking club. First person to take 10,000 steps at work wins a small prize!  

  • Start a stair-climbing club. It’s a fun way to encourage co-workers to take the stairs at work.

  • Ask your employer to set up a stretching room, hire a fitness instructor, or use online videos to offer early morning or lunchtime stretch, yoga or fitness classes.

  • Register a team for a good cause in your community, such as a walk, bike or stair-climbing fundraiser.   

At work meetings

  • Put a 3-4 minute stretch break on the meeting agenda to keep everyone feeling energized.

  • Have a “walk-and-talk” meeting with a colleague instead of talking on the phone.

  • Build in a couple of 20 minute activity breaks for full-day meetings and conferences. 

  • Encourage the option to stand during meetings.

Looking for tips on how to pack nutritious lunches and snacks for work? Check out this article.

How can a dietitian help?

Dietitians can support you throughout many phases of your life from pregnancy to eating well when you are older. Counselling sessions with a dietitian can also help you to prevent and treat health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Your dietitian will work with you to give you personalized advice that meets your lifestyle and goals. Connect with a dietitian today!

Bottom line

Getting active and sitting less during the workday just makes sense because we often spend a large part of the day working. Every little bit counts!

You may also be interested in:

10 “SMART” Physical Activity Goals
5 Habits to Make Your Workday Healthier
Top 5 Reasons to See a Dietitian
Cookspiration – Recipe and Meal Ideas by Dietitians of Canada
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.


Last Update – February 27, 2023

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