As a personal trainer, I get a lot of fitness questions thrown my way. A very common one is, “What can I do to stay fit at the office?” I always tell people, “The key is to be practical.”

You’re probably not going to do squats in your cubicle. You’re not going to run on a treadmill while typing emails at your desk. Exercising in the office can’t replace a true workout, but it can supplement an already healthy lifestyle.

Here are five small things you can do to stay trim while you (pretend to) work.

Sitting lowers good cholesterol and increases diabetes risk. If you’ve got a meeting, hold it standing up. It’ll be shorter, more effective and better for your—and everyone else’s—body.

1. Walk
When your coworkers go downstairs for a 10-minute smoke break every hour, go outside for a 10-minute walk. Or, if you don’t have 10 minutes, walk around the office for five. Walking stimulates your circulatory system (read: gets the blood flowing), which is crucial for fighting illness and stabilizing body temperature. It will also raise your energy levels, burn a few calories and clear your head (read: increase your productivity). So the next time you’re caught in a lull at work, take a brisk jaunt to turn your whole day around.

2. Stand Up
Sitting behind a desk all day isn’t just bad for your posture. It can wreak havoc on your energy levels. And it can lower your good cholesterol by 20 percent while increasing your risk of diabetes by 7 percent every two hours. Solution: stand up whenever you can. If you’ve got a meeting, hold it standing up. It’ll be shorter, more effective and better for your—and everyone else’s—body. When you take phone calls, same thing. Take them standing up. You’ll be amazed at the boost of energy you’ll feel. Plus, it will allow you to do a few other simple exercises…

3. Abs and Glutes Squeeze
Next time you’re zoning out during a conference call, stand up and alternate contractions between your abs and your glutes. Contract your abs for a second, then relax. Contract your glutes for a second, then relax. Do that 30 times. Or, if your boss is really on fire with his clichés and tangents, go for 50 times. You’ll burn calories and strengthen the muscles in your stomach and tone your rear. If your female coworkers happen to notice, you can just add, “boosted company morale” to your next performance review.


This is another option. If you want everyone in the office to hate you.

4. Stand on One Leg
OK, so you’re standing up whenever you take phone calls. Now, add this twist: for the first half of your day, stand on your left leg when on the phone. For the second half of your day, stand on your right leg when on the phone. Assuming you do the same amount of phone business in the morning as you do in the afternoon, you’ll work both hips, create symmetry in your body, strengthen your core and improve your balance. You’ll also make those dreaded calls to IT a little more interesting.

5. File Cabinet Stretch
Whenever possible at work, stretch. The traditional ones are a good start. Touch your toes. Put your hands on your lower back and lean back. Grab your ankle, pull it up near your butt and stretch your quad. Here’s one other great one: go to the tallest file cabinet near you. Put your hands on top of it. Keep them there and walk backwards a couple feet. Stick your butt in the air. Hold that for 30 seconds. It will stretch your whole posterior chain (back, glutes, hamstrings). It’s similar to a Downward Dog yoga pose, but—like a gym with actual showers—it’s a lot more practical for the workplace.

As a top certified strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Jay Cardiello has helped Hollywood A-Listers, Fortune 500 CEOs and NFL players sculpt the best bodies of their lives. Learn more at jcorebody.com