How To Walk at Work When You Sit All Day

Tracey was out of breath when she walked back into the studio with about a minute left in the song. She had just finished walking laps around the radio station for the previous two songs. She calls it Power Walking and considering how fast she’s moving it’s almost Power Running.

While Tracey and I do a radio morning show together, our responsibilities are different. She is the lead host and runs the control board. That means she is sitting for the entire show in front of a large audio console with five computer screens. It’s an intimidating set up.

Imagine having to operate all this AND think of something compelling to say!

On January 1, Tracey started The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. She set a Fitbit goal, made a commitment, and started tracking her daily wins. Pretty early in the challenge, Tracey became aware of just how much she sits at work. She never really thought about it until she had a daily Fitbit goal to reach.

There are a couple times each hour where we play several songs back to back to back. Tracey realized she doesn’t have to remain sitting at the control board while that’s happening, so she got up and started walking around the station. Then she challenged our listeners, who weren’t driving, to get up and walk too. In a few days it became a regular feature on our show that Tracey now calls, “Three Minutes to a Better You.”

She has expanded her Power Walk from one song to almost the entire three song set and is moving briskly the whole time. That’s why Tracey is a bit out of breath when she finally returns to the studio. But, she gets almost 1,000 steps in less than ten-minutes.

Some jobs require a lot of walking. My son, Andy, was part of the Orioles Grounds Crew one season and he moved a lot while he was at work.

Andrew, walking the Camden Yards outfield after batting practice, picking up gum the players spit out. Who knew this was a pre-game job?

I have a daughter who was a waitress and her entire workday was spent walking back and forth. And, while our kids were young I always felt some jealousy towards our mail carrier. He got to spend his workday walking. Alone.

If you’re wearing a Fitbit doing one of these jobs, or others that require a lot of moving, you’re probably hard to beat during a week long Fitbit Work Challenge. But, what about the rest of us? If walking is part of what you do for fitness how do you reach your Fitbit goals when you have to sit at work all day? And, even if you don’t have a daily Fitbit goal it’s still not healthy to sit ALL day.

You’re not required to sit as much as you may believe. Tracey takes advantage of a three song sweep during our morning radio show. Tricia does what she calls, “Walk and Talks.” Whenever she has a meeting she asks the other person if they’d be OK walking while they talk. If so, off they go. When the meeting is on the phone, Tricia is not sitting.

Look for opportunities. Lesley also has a job in an office. She has found ways to move more by using a printer that is not connected to her computer. She also takes documents to the copy center herself instead of using a Pick Up to do it for her.

I don’t know either Tricia or Lesley. They, and many others, answered a question I asked on Facebook about how to reach a Fitbit goal when you have a job that requires you to sit most of the day. The answers all reflected a level of intentionality. Moving is important to them even though they have a job that is done sitting down.

Use time before and after work. Some hit the gym. Some walk around their neighborhood, and one gets up at 4a to use the treadmill. Parking far away was a common answer. When you do that, just make sure you give yourself enough time to get in the building and not be late. Using time after work to walk with a friend or family member was also mentioned.

Be creative. One person actually has a “Restroom Strategy” where they drink A LOT of water throughout the day so they can get up and walk to the bathroom A LOT. Sounds like some serious health activity multi-tasking with this one…using hydration to create fitness opportunities. Well played.

Not all sit-down jobs happen in an office. Christine drives a school bus, but takes advantage of opportunities when it’s empty and she’s waiting. She walks around the bus. If the weather is not good, Christine walks back and forth inside the bus.

Use scheduled breaks to take walks. Few people need a full 30 or 60 minutes to eat, so many make walking part of their lunchtime routine. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator was mentioned by a few people, as was walking to the offices of co-workers instead of using email or the phone. Erin walks laps in the hallway. A couple people also said their co-workers comment about them getting their steps as they are moving through the building.

Let co-workers know what you’re doing so they can cheer you on. Macie is walking to lose weight. She’s already dropped 80 pounds and says she has another 50 or 60 to go. Every hour at work she gets up and does a lap around her floor. She says that’s about 300 steps…which means it probably takes her nearly three minutes to do the lap. She says her co-workers are super supportive. I love the picture that paints of a strong woman taking control of her health with her friends cheering her on.

Every job is unique and some jobs make it harder to reach a daily Fitbit goal. But, those who answered the question in this private Facebook group all showed a desire to find ways to get up and move throughout the day. Even though the work requires sitting, they each found creative ways to get the job done AND walk as much as possible.

I also have created opportunities to move more at work. I get to radio station earlier than I have to so I can warm up my voice as I walk around the cubicles upstairs.

I warm up my voice by singing. It’s a good thing this is empty as I walk and sing.

I also walk from the studio back to my office during song sweeps and get some of my other work done. After the show, while I’m still in the building, I walk to talk with co-workers instead of sending or answering questions by email.

The key is to find short opportunities throughout your day. For example, if your daily goal is 7,000 steps you’ll need about 70 minutes of walking to reach that. It’s hard to find a full hour plus every day to walk…especially if you have a sedentary job along with a long commute to and from work.

But, if you change your perspective to small chunks…even at work…you can almost always find ways to reach, and perhaps even increase, your daily Fitbit goal. Most of us can get about 1,000 steps in ten-minutes. If you have a daily Fitbit goal of 7,000 steps your fitness job is simply to find seven of these ten minute chunks throughout the day.

Here’s a summary of how you can reach your Fitbit goal if you have to sit at work:

  1. Use time before work to walk.
  2. Arrive early and park far away.
  3. Take advantage of breaks to get up and move.
  4. Eat fast and then walk.
  5. Avoid the elevator and take the stairs.
  6. Talk to co-workers in person instead of by phone or email.
  7. Try Walk and Talk meetings.
  8. Walk and Talk on the phone.
  9. Use the restroom that’s farther away.
  10. Run errands yourself.
  11. Take a walk when you get home from work.
  12. Find little opportunities throughout your day to get up and move.
  13. Adjust your perspective. Maybe you’re not required to sit as much as you believe.

It’s all about intentionality. Finding ways to walk can increases your fitness momentum.


If you’re ready to make your workday part of a new fitness lifestyle I recommend The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. Whether you’re just getting started, or you want to increase your fitness momentum, this challenge will help.

The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will guide you through setting the perfect Fitbit goal for you. Perfect means, not too big to fail, but not too small to be meaningless. The perfect Fitbit goal is one that pushes you a couple days a week.

The 30 Day Fitness Challenge also includes a contract you can make with yourself and a daily Win Tracker to chart your progress.

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.


(By the way…if you use the link above to but a Fitbit Inspire HR this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.

If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.



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