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Keep Active at Work


Can physical activity at work help you be more productive and reduce stress? You bet! 

Though sometimes with our busy work schedules and deadlines, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to squeeze in physical activity. The good news is that every little bit of activity counts towards helping you feel great and be healthy! Here are easy ways to keep active at work.


*Note: If you’re new to physical activity, speak to your doctor before starting any activity more challenging than walking.

Keep active at work to improve your...



Ability to cope with stress

Work performance and productivity


If you spend most of your day at your desk or workstation

  • Stand up and stretch. Try to stretch for a few minutes every hour.
  • Keep active even while you are sitting, reading or typing. Rotate your wrists and ankles. Roll your shoulders. Do calf raises by lifting your heels off the ground and then lowering them (if you’re wearing high heels, take them off first).

Follow these short videos developed by the Alberta Centre for Active Living 

Stretching @ Your Desk

Yoga @ Your Desk

Exercising Your Hands and Wrists @ Your Desk


Do you spend most of your day on your feet either standing in one spot or constantly on the go?

Well, you can still benefit from taking a few minutes to stretch. A short exercise break of 5-10 minutes each hour can reduce fatigue, stress and relieve sore muscles.


At meetings

  • Put a 3-4 minute stretch break on the meeting agenda to keep everyone feeling energized.
  • Consider holding a “walk-and-talk” meeting with a colleague instead of talking on the phone.
  • Build in a couple of 20 minute activity breaks for day long meetings and conferences. 
  • Plan off-site meetings at venues that offer access to fitness facilities, walking routes, running or biking trails. 


During your lunch hour

  • Sign up for a fitness class at the company gym or go for a swim at a nearby community centre.
  • Take a 20 minute walk around the neighbourhood before you eat lunch.  
  • Walk up and down 5 (or more) flights of stairs if it’s too icy to walk outdoors. Check first that the stairway is safe, clean and has good lighting.
  • Start a lunch-time running or walking club with friends at work.


Today and every day

  • Walk, cycle, in-line skate or wheel to work. Or park your car at the far end of the parking lot.
  • 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.   
  • Go for a 10 minute power walk instead of taking a coffee break.
  • Don’t overbook yourself. If your schedule is up to you, leave enough time for breaks and lunch every day so that you can take some time to stretch and keep active at work. 


With the team

  • Start a stair climbing club. Stairway to Health is a fun way to encourage employees to take the stairs at work.
  • Give everyone a pedometer and start a walking club. First person to take 10,000 steps at work today wins a small prize!  Pedometers are available in pharmacies, supermarkets and sometimes free from your local library. Call up and ask!     
  • Ask your employer to hire a fitness instructor to offer early morning or lunch time stretch, yoga or fitness classes.
  • Ask your employer to set up a stretching room. Have mats and stability balls available. Put up posters that show different stretches and exercises.
  • Organize an Office Olympics! Arrange to use the company gym or a nearby community centre for cycling races on stationary bikes, indoor/outdoor soccer games and basketball tournaments.
  • Register a corporate team for a good cause in your community.  Here are just some ideas: 

Terry Fox Run

Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay

Step by Step Challenge for the Canadian Cancer Society

Event fundraisers for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


How many steps have you taken today?

<5000 = sedentary

5000-7499 = low active

7500-9999  = somewhat active

10,000 = active

>12,500 = highly active

Aim for 10,000 steps every day.

                                                                                                        Source: ParticipACTION



For more information, check out these other resources:

This winter, don’t hibernate, participate!

Handbook for Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living, by Health Canada

Benefits to Stair Climbing and Stairway to Health Program, Public Health Agency of Canada

Links to Get Moving, from ParticipACTION

Canadian Council for Health and Active Living at Work


Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommends building 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. You don’t have to do it all at once to get the benefits. Add up 10 minutes at a time until you’ve reached your goal.


Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2014. All rights reserved.

Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.