Though some jobs require physical movement, others call for an awful lot of sitting. But our bodies aren’t really meant for that sort of thing, experts say


“Sitting for long periods actually can shorten tendons, muscles and ligaments, which can cause pain and headaches,” says Cynthia Carpenter, founder of The Inside Trainer Inc.

Carpenter is not your typical fitness guru, but rather a former sedentary smoker who created The Inside Trainer Inc. to help others figure out how to get healthier without making radical life changes.

One of the easiest healthy habits to adopt? Standing.

“Just standing up can burn up to 30 percent more calories than sitting, plus it takes the pressure off the back of your legs to encourage blood flow,” she says.

Mechanoreceptors in our necks play a part in controlling blood flow to the limbs, Carpenter explains. “And if we sit for long periods, we can experience a decrease in the blood flow to our arms and legs,” she adds.

Some choose to build standing desks to combat the issue and burn a few calories.

You can find standing desks and attachments at The Inside Trainer. “You also have the option to build an area where you can stand to do your work,” says Carpenter.

But standing all day can impact your health negatively, too, so she recommends taking an occasional break or finding an adjustable-height desk.

Desk peddlers — pedals you pump from a seated position — also help keep you moving. “They encourage leg movement so you can pump healthy blood to your extremities,” says Carpenter. “It’s a great way to burn calories and combat sitting disease.”

But you don’t necessarily need to buy special equipment to effectively burn calories 

“The single most important thing that an office worker can do for their health is get up and move,” says Ali McWilliams, a personal trainer and life coach. She recommends setting an alarm to sound every 30 minutes as a reminder to get up and go 

“You can walk the stairs, do a lap around the floor, do some dips at your chair, stretch, walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending that email,” she says.  “The point is movement.” 

McWilliams also says spending half of your lunch break moving can help beat the sitting blues. “It doesn’t mean you have to change and get sweaty,” she says. “Put some tennis shoes on for comfort and support and walk for 15 minutes around the building or outside.”

Still stuck in your seat? Carpenter has three exercises you can do right at your desk:

1. Get Your Squat On: “Stand, then slowly lower your body into a squat or hover over your chair for a few seconds, then stand again. Do these repetitions for only 60 seconds, and you will actively reverse the effects of prolonged sitting, and burn a lot of calories. A 150-pound person could burn up to 460 calories during their 8-hour workday.”
2. Get a Leg Up: “Simply sit up straight, and scoot to the edge of your chair. Lift one knee slightly off the chair, so you are holding it using only your muscles. Then straighten out your leg. Hold this for 15 seconds, if you can. Then raise the other leg and repeat. If that’s too difficult, then try sitting farther back in your chair when you do the movement 

3. The Slow March: “Stand up straight and slowly raise one knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Focusing on your core muscles so you don’t lean to compensate, hold for 15 seconds if you can. Slowly place that foot on the floor then raise the other leg. Do this for one minute. Be sure to have something stable to help you keep your balance, if needed.”