25 Reasons to Get Out of Your Office Chair


Many of us work in jobs where we feel chained to our desks. Studies have shown that sitting and staring at the same screen all day is not only bad for our cardiovascular health, posture, and weight control, but it can also adversely affect our mood and stress levels. Even if you work at home, you may stay glued to a computer screen for hours on end. At my office, there are no windows in the marketing department, and the lack of natural light in our area has initiated a quest to find more excuses to leave my desk several times a day. Otherwise, I feel stressed and tired all the time. (See also: Healthy Workplace: 10 Ways to Make a Cheap Standing Desk)

Stress can be a huge factor in a person's general health. In fact, according to the National Geographic documentary "Killer Stress," work stress can affect many aspects of your health, from obesity to a compromised immune system. Avoiding work-related stress can be as simple as making sure you get away from your desk at least a few times a day.

If you're looking for reasons or excuses for getting away from the cubicle or even your desk at home during the day, here are 25 reasons to get up and move around while you are working.

At the Office

If your boss or anyone asks about why you're spending so much time away from your desk, explain that frequent activity helps relieve job stress and increases productivity.

1. Fill Your Water Bottle

Try using a smaller water bottle so that you will get up more often to fill it. This will get you moving more often, and give you the added benefit of drinking more water.

2. Stretch

Take one to five minutes to stand up and do some stretches.

3. Take a Short Walk

Take a walk around the building, or go outside and walk around to get some fresh air and sunshine.

4. Use the Restroom

How many times have you become so focused on a project that you forgot to pee? Make sure you go when you need to, which helps you get moving and supports kidney health.

5. Take a Fresh Air Break

When your coworkers who smoke get up to have that afternoon cigarette, go outside for a "fresh air" break instead of a smoke break.

6. Take a Screen Break

Take a minute to look at something other than your computer screen. Walk over to a window to stretch or look at a magazine.

7. Eat a Snack

Don't be tempted to use this one as a counterproductive excuse to eat a bag of chips from the vending machine. Bring healthy snacks to work, such as fresh fruit or nuts, and keep them in the kitchen or break room so that you have to leave your desk to get a snack.

8. Visit a Coworker

Instead of sending an email or instant message, walk over to your coworker's desk to ask a question or discuss a project.

9. Find a Longer Route

Is the nearest water cooler right across from your desk? Fill your water bottle at a cooler located in another part of the building.

10. Take Advantage of Company Health Initiatives

Many companies will offer health initiatives, such as walk-a-thons or access to a fitness center at work. Use them.

11. Buy a Pedometer

If your company doesn't offer health initiatives, challenge yourself to walk a certain number of steps every day. Increase the number as you meet each goal.

12. Don't Skip Lunch

While this is tempting to do (I often do it myself), it's important to take real breaks to avoid burnout. Don't eat at your desk. Find a picnic table outside, or ask other coworkers if they want to eat with you in the break room. If you are on a budget, it's OK to splurge occasionally and treat yourself to going out for lunch.

13. Use Your Laptop

If your office has wireless, take your laptop outside or to a naturally-lit area.

14. Take the Stairs

When you have the option of taking the elevator or stairs, choose the stairs.

15. Take the Call Elsewhere

Use your cell phone for business calls if possible. Go outside and walk around during the call.

16. Walk to Work

This may not always be possible, but walking or biking to work will give you an energy boost at the beginning of the day, which makes it easier to find the energy and excuse to get up from your desk to move around throughout the day.

17. Improve Your Posture

Even when you are at your desk, it doesn't mean you have to contribute to poor posture. Pay attention to the way you sit and even type. Make sure you aren't slouching, and stretch your hands and back occasionally to avoid cramping.

18. Get an Office Buddy

Find a coworker who is also concerned about maintaining optimal health in an office environment. Check in with each other to see if you are meeting your goals, or have a certain time of day that you go for a short walk outside.

19. Set a Timer

While a lot of these suggestions may seem easy on paper, it can be difficult to remember getting into a habit, especially if your job requires high levels of concentration. Set a timer for a few times a day for breaks and stretching.

20. Make Deliveries When Needed

If you are preparing for a meeting that requires a printed agenda, offer to make photocopies for everyone attending the meeting.

At Home

If you work from home, it may be a little easier to find excuses for a screen break. In addition to the suggestions above, here are a few suggestions to continue the list.

21. Wash the Dishes

They won't do themselves, anyway.

22. Take the Dog for a Walk

Spot needs exercise, too. Plus, a tired dog is a well behaved dog and less of a distraction when you're trying to work.

23. Clean Up Your Desk Area

If your home office is like mine, this task may require more than a short break.

24. Run an Errand or Get the Mail

It's easy to let personal tasks crowd out professional ones when working from home (they both feel like work, after all), so don't run too many errands during your screen break.

25. Take Your Phone Call Outside

Take your call out to the backyard or a private patio to get the benefits of a desk break, without the noise and distractions of the neighborhood. 

What are some of the reasons you use to get out of your chair during the work day?

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Guest's picture

I might do 13 right now. Weather is so nice today here in Chicago.

Guest's picture

I asked Facilities at my company for a sit-or-stand desk, which is adjustable.
I lost 10 lbs immediately without changing any other behavior and my back and shoulder strain from being on the computer a lot disappeared. And I have more energy even though I stand about 4 hours per day. And my mind is clearer, how weird is that?

The one I have is "WorkRite" but there are many. They even have new ones with treadmills (!) but I would rather not sweat at work :)

Guest's picture

As a blogger, I appreciate these tips. One idea I have is to use a screen timer, which when it goes off, prevents you from using the computer. It might "force" you to take a 5 or 10-minute break depending on the settings.

Guest's picture

One thing I do when working at home is to set a target of where I want to be, then get out of my chair and do something else for a bit. So I might set myself a target of finishing a post then will go and make a drink. Sitting in the same chair for hours on end is never good and it just makes you feel tired and sluggish. I find you have much better ideas if you go do something else for a short time, then return refreshed back at your desk.

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