How to Stay Healthy at Work- Because Sitting is Killing Us

That title is a bit intense, my apologies.

You are amazing at what you do. Check.

You sit at a desk. Check.

Studies say that you are killing yourself. WAIT, WHAT?

The thing is, most of us sit too much; we sit at work, we sit in our cars on the drive home from work, then we sit on the couch. Not just an hour at a time but HOURS at a time. Sitting is no joke and it is killing us. 3.2 million of us a year.

I am often asked how to stay healthy at work.…if you want the cliff notes- move more and sit less according to the American Heart Association…I’m all about saving you time 😊.

Most humans these days are deskbound. Which makes staying healthy at work a challenge. Keep reading and I’ll give you 10 tips to get you moving at work as well as a 5 shoulder exercises you can do at your desk right now.

Statistics say that sitting increases your chance of early death:

A study sponsored by the National Institute of Health concluded that if you sit more than 13 hours a day (which most Americans do) you INCREASE your chance of EARLY death by 200% (that’s 2 fold!!!) compared to those who sit for less than about 11 hours per day as reported by Keith Diaz, an associate research scientist in the Columbia University Department of Medicine. In Diaz’s project REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), findings indicated that as total sedentary time increased, so did early death by any cause. This was also true for longer sitting stretches. Concluding that, participants' risk of death grew concurrently with total sitting time and sitting stretch duration – regardless of sex, age, race, body mass index or exercise habits.

Attention grabbed? I hope so. (if you just want the move at work exercises scroll on down to the pretty pictures 😉)

But don’t panic yet I have good news!

As reported by, if you can sit for less than 30 minutes at a time, you’ll have a 55% lower risk of death compared to people who usually sit for more than 30 minutes at a time. Even scarier is that “people who frequently sat for more than 90 minutes at a stretch had a nearly two-fold greater risk of death than those who almost always sat for less than 90 minutes at a stretch”. So, the longer you sit, the higher the risk of early death. Eeek!

So please please please get up and move your body as much as possible, whenever you can, to stay healthy at work.

Here are some tips to getting you up at moving at work:

  1.  Set a timer on your computer to alert you to move- it is as simple as standing up and shaking out your legs (or any other movement) every 30 mins.

  2.  If you wear a fitness tracker or i-watch, set alerts to remind you to move if you are inactive for more than 30 minutes.

  3. Join

  4.  Download an app there’s a list of them here.

  5.  Alter your posture frequently.

  6.  Fidget- you can tap your foot or march your legs.

  7. Set a calendar reminder to move.

  8.  Invest in a sit-stand desk or make your own.

  9.  Reorganize your desk or office so that you have to stand up and reach for any tools you regularly use.

  10. Take a stroll to a colleague’s desk and speak with them instead of sending an email.

Look if “not sitting” was a pill – everyone would take it, they would live longer and have a reduced risk of many diseases. Unfortunately, there’s no pill- there’s just you and your body and this one time on this planet to do the best you can for yourself.

What does sitting to do your body?

Okay, we know sitting all day wreaks havoc on or body, sitting for just 30 minutes results in: compression of your lungs by your ribcage, slowed down digestion, restricted blood flow to the heart and less blood circulation in your legs. These are just a few of the effects as reported in this huffington post article.

How can we fix the problem?

We are humans and we are meant to move. We know this, but the average American spends 13 hours a day seated- so how can you fix this? You need to move your body for 2-5 minutes for every 30 minutes that you spend in your chair. This is truly the only way to combat the negative effects that being seated has on your body you can read more about that here.

Another shocker is that exercising before or after work DOES NOT cancel out being seated all day- so I created the Move at Work Challenge Program. The cure to the sitting epidemic is SITTING LESS and I attempt to make it fun.

So, get up and move! Below you’ll find a FOLLOW ALONG video with 6 shoulder exercises you can do at work to stay healthy and improve your life.

I suggest standing up for most of these exercises- then you can tilt your pelvis forward and pull your belly button in so you get bonus’re welcome 😊!

Do each of these 6 exercises for 30-45 seconds if you are doing it on your own.

1. Elevator doors-

  • Try to keep elbow in line with shoulders

  • Open and close your arms

  • Squeeze butt

  • Pull belly button in

  • Smile 😊!!!!

Elevator door exercise for staying healthy at work

2. Lil Fist Pumps –

  • Try to keep elbows high

  • Booty squeezed!

  • Abs pulled in

  • Tiny upwards movements one arm at time

lil fist pump exercise for staying healthy at work

3. Shoulder Taps

  • Arms straight out to the side palms to the sky tap your shoulders

  • Squeeze your butt

  • Pull your belly button in

  • Squeeze your butt again…..keep squeezing

  • SMILE 😊!

Shoulder tap exercise for staying healthy at work

4. Shoulder Rolls

  • Forward and backward rotation through the deltoids.

  • Belly button squeezed into spine!

  • Booty squeezed!

  • Smile 😊!

shoulder rolls exercise for staying healthy at work

5. Robot arms

  • Goal post your arms

  • Forward rotation until your hands are in line with your elbows

  • Squeeze the butt!

  • Keep the belly button in!

robot arms exercise for staying healthy at work

6. Reverse Robot Arms

  • Reverse goal post your arms

  • Backwards rotation through the deltoids until hands are in line with elbows

  • Butt squeezed!

  • Belly button into spine!

  • Smile 😊!!!!

reverse robot arms exercise for staying healthy at work

So there you have it. Six ways to work your shoulders at work. Staying healthy at work is easier than you think. If you are into the whole “living a better life” thing and would like to stay healthy at work and improve your body in 5-7 minutes a day check out my Move at Work Challenge membership program. It’s less than a cup of coffee a day. Or click here to sign up for a free demo video.

I am always curious to hear what the humans are requesting so please comment with request for upcoming articles on how to move your body and stay healthy at work.

If you want a weekly newsletter with body weight workouts, move at work videos, and other tips and tricks to stay healthy at work please subscribe here.

In health,

💪Saara Haapanen Move at Work Challenge Creator  BSc, MSc, PhD Candidate Colorado Governor's Council for Active and Healthy Lifestyles