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If you add up just how much time you spend sitting every day, you might be quite surprised. Our modern work environments all center around sitting behind a desk and sitting in meetings. But if we’re mindful of the fact that we spend too much time sitting, it’s not that hard to introduce a few changes to your workday that can get you up and moving.


Studies have shown that our sedentary lifestyle is really harmful to our health. Not only does too much sitting causes stiff muscles, lower back pain, and higher blood pressure, it has also been liked to very serious conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Sitting itself isn’t harmful – it’s the fact that we sit all day. One study compared people who sat for eight hours a day to those who smoked, and claimed that the risks are similar. Sitting for extended periods leads to obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels.


Simply getting up from your desk regularly can help negate the negative effects of sitting.


It’s recommended that you take a break from sitting every 30 minutes or so. You don’t have to get up for long, just long enough to stretch your muscles and get the blood pumping through your body. Here are a few ideas to help you move more during your workday.

  • One strategy is to get up and get a glass of water every hour or so. This will mean that you’ll need to use the toilet more during the day, but this provides another opportunity to get up from your desk.
  • If you talk on the phone often, walk as you talk, or at least stand up from your desk.
  • Add a standing desk station to your desk so you have the option of standing up and working for a while.
  • Learn a few simple stretches and incorporate them into your day. Stretching feels great and can help stop your muscles from stiffening. Stretching at your desk doesn’t require any special equipment, and simple neck, shoulder and back stretches are very easy to do.
  • Institute a stand-up meeting policy. Make some meetings ‘stand up meetings’ where nobody sits in a chair. The idea is that the discomfort of standing while meeting will help to keep meetings short. Stand-up meetings are often used in companies instituting an agile working policy.
  • Take a walk when meeting with colleagues. Hold informal brainstorms and catch-up meetings while walking. Take a walk around the block or walk to a coffee shop nearby.
  • Add a daily walk around the office into your routine. Walk between the desks and greet colleagues as you go. A daily walk can also serve as a networking opportunity and a chance to touch base with teammates and other colleagues.
  • Don’t send that email – rather get up from your desk and chat with a fellow colleague. Not only will this short break help get your blood pumping, you might also be surprised to find how much more you achieve in a face-to-face conversation versus a string of emails.
  • Use walking time to strategise, think, and brainstorm. Walking can improve blood flow and a change of environment is great for creative thinking.
  • Set a movement reminder on your phone or watch. Many smartwatches not include a feature that can alert you when you’ve been sitting for too long.
  • Buy salad ingredients or simple meal ingredients and spend ten minutes preparing your lunch at work while standing.


Like many things in life, our sedentary lifestyle is partly just a bad habit. Taking time to get up and move during a workday doesn’t take a lot of effort and can even help improve your work life.

Use your walking breaks to network with people, brainstorm, relax, and re-energize. Your mind and body will thank you.

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