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Active at Work  Edit

Most adults spend the majority of their day sitting (commuting, office job, screen time, etc.).  Canadians spend more than nine hours a day (69%) of their waking hours being sedentary.  Sitting for long periods of time increases the risk for some chronic diseases including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

What is sedentary behaviour?

Activities involving prolonged sitting, reclining or lying down, characterized by low energy expenditure (e.g., using a computer or watching television) are considered sedentary behaviour.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (PDF) recommend adults get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity per week to achieve good health benefits.  This can be accomplished in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

A 'moderate' physical activity gets your heart rate up, makes you breathe a little harder, so you can talk but not sing your favourite song.

Research studies show that reducing the amount of sedentary behaviour improves health outcomes and extends life in both children and adults.  Simply put, the less time you spend sedentary, the better.

Make your Workplace Healthier

Being active in the workplace, improves your physical and mental health.  The goal is simple, sit less and move more!  Since adults spend most of their time at work, the workplace is a great place to add physical activity into your day.


Benefits of being active while working:

  • Improves productivity
  • Increases employee morale
  • Helps to cope with stress
  • Boosts energy
  • Meet people

Ways that you can be more active while working:

  • Take a fit break- walk around your office or school
  • Stand up while talking on the phone
  • Get up from your desk every hour
  • Stretch or walk on the spot
  • Speak to your co-worker in person instead of emailing or calling them
  • Go for a walk during lunch and encourage co-workers to join
  • Consider taking public transit whenever possible
  • Driving somewhere? Try parking farther away from your location
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you can
  • SMART Commute

Did you know that stair use is considered a moderate-to-vigorous physical activity?
Taking the stairs is a great way to build physical activity into your day.

  • Stair use burns seven times more calories than taking the elevator
  • It is a great mini-workout helping you gain extra energy
  • Releases endorphins (hormones) that make you feel good

Not used to taking the stairs?

  • Check to see if you can get in and out of the stairwell without special permission
  • Start off slowly with a few flights
  • Take your time and watch your step
  • Hold onto the railing for safety
  • Breathe.  Steady breathing throughout your climb will provide oxygen to your working muscles

Rediscover the Stairs

The Rediscover the Stairs toolkit (PDF) is a great resource if you are looking to implement a stair campaign in your workplace.


Get Moving!

Give one of these challenges a try during a break to help you stay active!

  1. Walk, cycle or take transit to work
  2. Challenge a colleague to a stand-off: agree that for the day, you will take turns standing while you work
  3. Take the longest route to the washroom
  4. Use a smaller cup or water bottle to refill more often (try using a sink/fountain farther away from you)
  5. Walk in your workspace as you do tasks like organizing your desk
  6. Walk and talk with a friend or colleague
  7. When you walk to the washroom, take longer strides than you normally would
  8. Do some simple stretches before you allow yourself to go for any of your breaks
  9. Imagine there's a punching bag in front of you. Sit or stand and “punch” your punching bag 20 times.  Get as many colleagues to do it with you as you can.
  10. Interrupt the day with three minutes of dance music!
  11. Park your car or your bike an extra block away
  12. Bring your lunch and walk to a park or mall

Finding ways to be active on your own during breaks and lunch time is a great start.  Try recruiting a friend or a group of colleagues to join you in various active challenges.  

  • Develop a point system where one minute of activity = one point. Set a target, and post a chart where all employees can track their points. You could have employees in teams and reward the first team to reach a target
  • Create a chart at the top of the stairs that people can check off once they've come up or when they are going down

Are you looking to make your workplace heathier? Take the Workplace Check and learn more about workplace resources, programs, supports, and policies.