The Desk Potato-Cardio Fitness

Whenever someone says they do any sort of office work, I can’t help but picture The Office. Someone goes to a job where there are constant shenanigans, a 5K and for some reason a lot of outside escapades. Unfortunately, that is not how most sedentary style jobs go. Most people are glued to a computer for 8 hours a day and headaches, poor fitness and obesity ensue. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between early mortality and reported sitting time. Sedentary lifestyles that come along with office jobs have shown to increase diabetes risk, an increased risk  for heart disease and cause abnormal glucose and lipid tolerance (Dunstan et al, 2012). The same study also showed that interruptions of sedentary times significantly decreased these problems. So in other words keep it moving during the day and evening. Even if you are  a person who hits the gym for 30-60 minutes a day, if you are sedentary for greater than 7 hours a day (like watching TV) you are at 50% greater  risk of mortality from the previously mentioned causes and twice as likely to suffer from a cardiovascular death than the same person who only watches TV less than 1 hour a day. (Dunstan et al, 2012).  That is even if you hit the gym every day. The take home message-MOVE!

Many businesses have instituted workplace fitness programs with some success. The following is some exercises that you can add to your workday to increase your own fitness and interrupt that constant sitting. There are many reasons to institute a workplace program from decreased muscle soreness to weight loss. Today I will just focus on cardiovascular exercises that you can do at work.  Future posts will focus on resistive exercises and desk exercises for pain.

A Few Unique Ways To
Get Some Exercise At

Standing at your desk: A research study based on students found that standing during the day actually increases calories expended per minute from 1.02 kcals per minute for sitting compared to 1.36 kcals/min for standing. It does not seem like much it can add up. (Reiff, C et al., 2011).

A stepping device: A research study done by the Mayo Clinic found that adding a stepping device ( a quiet stepping machine that can fit under a desk) to a person’s day could results in approximately 44 lbs a year of weight loss when 2 hours of sitting at work is replaced by walking and no other energy output/input changes (McAlpine et al, 2007).

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This could be used for 15 minutes every hour and at the end of your 8 hour work day you would have accumulated 2 hours of exercise.

Pedometer: First off let me start by saying I am a huge fan of the pedometer. It is cheap and I love how you can see results right on the screen. Studies have shown its use to be quite effective as well. One study done on a 4 month work program using a pedometer and walking 10,000 steps a day showed an average of 1.6 cm decrease in waistline circumference (Freak-Poli et al., 2011). That is just what it takes off your waist line, but don’t forget how great all that walking is for your heart too.

If all of this seems impossible to fit into your day job you can always work on getting your 30 minutes of walking into your day throughout your work day.


Park in the last parking spot at work: 5-10 min walk

Take the stairs up to work and back down: 5 min-10 min

Walk at a break: 10 min

Walk on your lunch: 15 min

Walk back to your car: 5-10 min

Pick and choose what works for you and you can get a minimum of 30 minutes of fabulous cardio walking into your work day.


David A McAlpine, Chinmay U Manohar, Shelly K McCrady, Donald Hensrud, James A Levine
Br J Sports Med. 2007 December; 41(12): 903–907. Published online 2007 May 18. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2006.034900
Dunstan DW, Howard B, Healy GN, Owen N. Too much sitting – A health hazard. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Jun 8. [Epub ahead of print]
Reiff C, Marlatt K, Denge DR. Difference In Caloric Expenditure In Sitting Versus Standing Desks. J Phys Act Health. 2011 Oct 5. [Epub ahead of print]

3 thoughts on “The Desk Potato-Cardio Fitness

  1. I guess sharing one car with Andy is actually great for me, I have to walk from the base gate to work, that’s about half 3/4 of a mile every morning and I can’t drive to the commissary to get lunch so sometimes I walk to go get food which is about another 1/4 a mile! Nice blog! 🙂

  2. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why I Love Pedometers | whohastimeforthegym

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