Work Series #1: How To Be More Active At Work

Work Series #1: How To Be More Active At Work
  At times, it’s easy to feel like you’re chained to your desk. Even the notion of lunch outdoors can seem a little unrealistic at times. You can relax though because I am here to share easy tips on how to be more active at your desk job. Desk jobs. Spending 8+ hours a day sitting sure can do a number on your body and can lead to various chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. No need to get down about it, though! If you’re pro-active (no pun intended), there are ways you can easily incorporate movement throughout your workday to avoid the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. So, I’m here to offer up 6 tips for how you can be more active at your desk job so that you will have more energy, avoid weight gain, and be more productive at work (I’m sure your boss will appreciate that). Before we start I want to also briefly talk about Posture. Posture. Being more aware of your posture is step one. My favorite tip I tell my clients is to write on a sticky note and put at eye level to your computer and/or car (near the driving wheel) that simply says: DROP YOUR SHOULDERS! I can guarantee that most of the day we tighten our shoulders and let them hunch up to our ears. So instead - roll them back, breath, and relax. Chances are you just dropped yours when reading this! Another great tip with posture is to make conscious awareness to tighten your core. Sit up straight and crunch in your core muscles. This will also help your lower back. The more you can activate your glute muscles when you are standing will also be a great way to improve your posture. Wearing comfy shoes is also helpful and important to have handy so you can try to incorporate more movement in your day. Now that you have this nailed - the rest of the tips are easy. Let's Begin!

1. Take the stairs

If you are lucky enough to have stairs nearby, take advantage! You can take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can walk them on your lunch break. You can even use them for a quick full body workout to give you a mega boost of energy and turn up your metabolism. Here’s one of my favorite “lunchtime” stair circuits I offer my “9-5" clients. This is great for anyone and also when you travel!

Monica Nelson Fitness

2. Take mini stretch-breaks

Stretching counts as being active! Furthermore, it helps reduce stress and enables you to sit with more comfortably and with better posture. Take 5 minutes out of every hour you spend sitting and incorporate some stretches such as these office yoga poses. Neck pain, no more! You will be surprised at how much more relaxed you feel and ready to tackle that darn report due by 3.

My favorite stretch moves for the office:

  • Roll your shoulders, Inhale your arms overhead and side stretch to each side. Stand up and do a forward fold bending from the hips. Hold on to your elbows.
  • Neck stretch + neck rolls
  • Opposite ankle cross
  • Cat Cow
  • Child Pose
  • Back Stretch / Hamstring Stretch - hands on a the desk, feet to the left, feet to the right
  • Wall Angel

3. Walk it out

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is! Try to leave your desk, and leave it often. For every hour you sit, move for 5 mins. Maybe this means walking to get your lunch instead of driving. Perhaps you choose to park farther away in the lot and trek the extra 1/4 mile. Need to take a phone call? Take a stroll and chat while walking rather than sit at your desk. Instead of sending an email, walk to your co-worker’s cubicle and talk face to face. Get creative with getting your steps in and you’ll be surprised how they can add up. And how much is enough? Aim to take 10,000 steps a day. You might want to invest in a pedometer to keep you aware of how sedentary you may just be and also hold you more accountable.

4. Sit on an exercise ball or get a standing desk

Sitting on a fitness ball works your core muscles, assists in better posture, and will keep you more alert. Talk about multi-tasking! An exercise ball encourages your pelvis to rock gently forward while sitting, increasing the lumbar curve and naturally shifting the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat). Better yet, consider investing in a standing desk. The drain on your weight and health that comes along with sitting (back stiffness, tight hips, and slouching – to name a few) can be avoided by abandoning the chair altogether. Not one of my clients has ever regretted this upgrade from a poorly made chair.

5. Take a circuit-break

Monica Nelson Circuit Drop and give me 10. This is for those who can get away with a quick and efficient workout when no one is looking. Doing something, even if for just a few minutes, is better than doing nothing at all. Carve out 10 minutes and do the following circuit and you will be that much more pro-active than your desk-neighbor who sat at her desk and checked emails during that time. BONUS: Every time you go to the restroom or take a coffee break do 10 push-ups and 10 squats.

6. Meditate

Meditate This might not be something you saw coming but this is one of the most important. You don’t need to sit on the floor in lotus pose to reap the benefits of a 5 minute meditation practice. Instead try to take a few moments to close your eyes and take some deep breaths. A simple breathing practice is to repeat to yourself “LET” on a deep inhale and then “GO” on a deep exhale. On your inhale pretend you are smelling the most fragrant flower. This can do wonders for your health, wellness, and mental clarity, all of which help you do a better job. If this all seems like too much for you, perhaps just take a 5 from your work to take a break from the computer, close your eyes, and listen to relaxing music. After all – an active mind will lead to an active body. BONUS TIPS:
  • Remember for every hour you sit get up and move for 5 mins.
  • Waiting time... can turn into movement time!
  • If you can lift weights. Keep a pair of 5, 8, or 10 pounds weights near by.
  See you on your next workout!   Monica Nelson is a personal trainer, chef, accomplished athlete, model and much loved health and fitness expert based in LA. She inspires her clients to look and feel their best with her life motto: EAT WELL, STAY FIT, FEEL GREAT. One of her greatest passions is cooking and the talented Moni loves to whip up healthy and decadent meals for her readers to enjoy. On any given day you can find her being creative in the kitchen, training her clients in the park, at the beach, out for a bike ride or catching big air on her snowboard. Make friends with Moni (@monimealfitness) on Twitter and Instagram. Grab a recipe or two at before you head over for a quick workout at
Love Monica Nelson

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Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a Registered Dietitian. While my advice relies on my own personal experience and research, what has been successful for myself and others may be not best for you. You should always consult your doctor when making changes to your diet. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at

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