Deskercise - The answer to your sedentary lifestyle? - Bean

If you work at a computer screen, whether in an office or from home, you know how challenging it can be to keep moving. If you commute to your workplace, you’re likely to be sitting on a bus, train or in a car. Yet with experts telling us that sitting down for prolonged periods is now considered as bad for us as smoking, it’s vital to fit movement into your day.

‘In today’s society we live in a ‘Box Culture’. We live in a box (home) and in the morning we walk the 10 steps to drive our box (car) to work. We then park as close as we can to our work box and sit in front of our computer box resisting the temptation to move (or worse still discouraged, by the powers that be, to avoid moving!). We then drive our box home and sit in front of the box (TV).

This ‘Box Culture’ means that, on average, office workers sit for 8 to 9 hours per day (that’s up to 60% of waking hours!). And, it’s not just those that work. Sadly, as we age, we spend even longer (over 10 hours per day) sitting.

This ‘sitting disease’ we now know is linked with an increased risk of a host of chronic diseases including; metabolic disease (i.e. Type 2 diabetes); heart disease; and stroke. So, finding a way to weave movement and activity into the working day is vital.

The starting point to support an increase in activity is to set goals (i.e. daily/weekly step counts). These don’t need to be major physical challenges. In fact, small movements can make a big difference when it comes to health benefits, particularly for the least active.

For those stuck behind a desk or at home, we have designed ‘Deskercise’; a series of simple exercises that can be performed from your chair. Adding movement throughout the day will have a positive effect on your physical health, as well as improving mood and reducing lethargy. These are especially important if, like up to one in three people, you’re prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) triggered by the decrease in exposure to natural sunlight during winter.

Performing squats at your desk or smashing out some calf raises at the photocopier might leave you feeling a bit like the village idiot but, do not despair. Communication is the key to integrating activity into your working life. Making everyone in your office aware of the importance of activity, circulating ideas for active work and getting everyone to join in with you will create a happier, healthier, more productive workplace. If the barriers are too great, there are lots of discreet ways you can be more active at work (check out regular social media posts from BEAN Lite for some ideas).

5 ways to make your office more healthy

Simple changes can make an office more exercise friendly. Here are five essential pieces of equipment that make make a big difference to your daily activity:

Standing desk

Placed on top your normal work station, standing desks encourage you to stand more during the day, which recruits more muscles in the body, improves posture and encourages more movement. When people stand they tend to make unintentional fidgeting-type movements like shuffling their weight or swaying from one foot to another, which all adds up to your daily activity.

Some companies offer this option to employees. Standing rather than sitting increases calorie burn by around two calories per minute (just standing up expends one calorie!). Add to this, the positive impact of standing on key enzymes that regulate fat deposition and, standing up is a simple way to a leaner, lighter you. Standing for just one additional hour per day can reduce the incidence of a host of chronic diseases by 15%.

Swiss ball (to use as an office chair)

There will be absolutely no slouching when sitting on a Swiss ball because if you do, you’ll topple off! This means that you’ll have to sit up straight and use your core and back muscles to maintain good posture and keep the ball stable.

Back pain is the single leading cause of disability, preventing many people from working as well as other daily activities. Being more active and improving core strength and stability are critical in reducing back pain and improving quality of life. Using a Swiss ball rather than a standard office chair can help in increasing activity and improving core strength, stability and strength endurance. You don’t need to do it all of the time but, switching your office chair for a ball regularly will support your back health.


Pedalling away at a DeskCycle will not only work all the major muscles in your lower body but will get your heart rate up, which ultimately helps you burn more calories throughout the day. You can adjust the tension on the pedals to increase the difficulty and incorporate short bursts into your day – like when you are reading emails or on the phone for example. .

Any activity, however small, will have a positive impact on health and well-being. If leaving your desk is not possible, activating the large muscles of the leg is better than sitting still – every little helps.

Fitness Trackers

These are not only good for recording your daily steps but many also have a office-friendly feature of vibrating every hour, which remind you to get up and move. This all counts towards hitting those recommended 10,000 steps a day and keeps you accountable.

Using wearable tech, such as a FitBit to ‘nudge’ you throughout the day helps to maintain regular activity and reduce prolonged periods of sitting.

Hand Exercise Balls

These discrete squishy balls can help relieve tension and stress while strengthening your hands, wrists and forearms. They usually come in different resistance levels and are good for improving grip strength too.

Simple, cost-effect and discreet, hand exercise balls can help body and mind, and provide a valuable addition to a more active working life.

Professor Greg Whyte OBE