How Staying Active at Work Can Increase Productivity

Picture yourself at work. Are you hunched over a keyboard, clicking away on a mouse, cradling your phone on your shoulder? Are the most moving around you’re likely to do walking to and from the copy machine? It’s no surprise that our sedentary jobs are causing fatigue and stiffness, both mentally and physically. Fortunately, having a desk job doesn’t exclude you from experiencing physical activity at work. Give these activities a try to boost your physical well-being and productivity.  

Time for a Mental Shift

Somehow, somewhere along the way, Americans got it into their heads that working without breaks is the sign of productivity. Not true! Working without breaks not only causes physical and mental fatigue, but studies have shown that people who allow themselves to take a break are more productive than their power-through counterparts.

Use the 1 in 20 Rule

On average, the mind can only work continuously on a singular task for 20 minutes at a time before productivity begins to slow. Fortunately, it does not take a lot to reset the brain’s ability to refocus. Standing up and moving around every 20 minutes, changing positions, or walking to another office is enough to give your brain the blood flow it needs to be ready for the tasks at hand. Of the free rest break software we’ve researched, this one is our favorite since you can customize how invasive the computer reminders are (from a small message bubble in the corner of the screen to locking your entire desktop), you can set custom messages when your breaks start (like a reminder to do the stretches your PT gave you or check your sitting posture), and you can customize the time between breaks as well as how long the breaks are.

Stay Hydrated

On average, water represents up to 60% of our body weight yet many of us walk around chronically dehydrated. In addition to digestive problems, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain, chronic dehydration can slow productivity and even lead to distracting headaches. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Consuming water throughout the day will keep your brain sharp and your body more active as well. The more you walk to the kitchen to get water, the more you’ll be walking to the bathroom later too.


Stretching your muscles is a great way to keep the blood flowing to your brain. You may find that your body has a natural need to stretch when it has been stagnant too long. This does not mean you need to roll out the yoga mat by your desk and do a pigeon pose. You can stretch your arms, legs, back, and neck in just a few minutes without special equipment and enjoy greater productivity for hours afterward.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

We breathe thousands of times a day without even thinking about it, yet becoming aware of your breath is a great way to reduce stress, think more clearly, and work better. Take a deep breaths that fill your entire rib cage and abdomen and expel all of the air out. Then, enjoy a more productive day. Tell us what you struggle with at work by clicking the button below. We’ll arrange for you to speak with one of our physical therapy experts about how we can help you experience a more pain-free and productive workday.

Written by: Dr. Julia Melanson, PT, DPT

Edited by: April Oury, PT, MSPT, IOC, CFMT, FAAOMPT, Founder

As always, consult with your Licensed Physical Therapist for individualized advice. For those in Illinois, visit your PT immediately without a prescription or referral.

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