Most of us work 9 to 5, so finding the time to squeeze in some squats or bust out the barbells makes obtaining the numerous health benefits from working out – such as improved mood and better heart health – difficult. Perhaps the answer isn’t waking up before the crack of dawn, or even signing up for expensive group classes; maybe it’s finding ways to incorporate more physical activity at work. Even if your job involves conference calls and mandatory meetings, you can inject physical activities into your sedentary role.

We surveyed over 2,000 workers across the United States to see which exercise activities, if any, are being performed on the job. Providing a clear picture of where work life and personal life intersect, and where personal best and performance reviews go hand in hand, we learned that how much you can handle doesn’t just equal the number of projects you can balance – it also means how much you can bench.

Work It Out

While the most popular exercise routines right now involve high-intensity interval training (HIIT), most bosses might prefer that you engage in physical activities that don’t leave you sweating profusely. Out of our respondents, almost 72 percent take occasional short walks. Whether you’re headed to grab a coffee, or just stretching your legs after a long period of data entry, this activity ranks No. 1 for all physical activities on an average day. (Thirty-two percent share they partake in one long walk during an average day.) Without a need for a set space, walking only relies on you making the time to take the first step.

Given the reported dangers of sitting too long, there are employees who enjoy breaking away from the classic desk while they work. In fact, 13 percent say they use a standing desk for workplace exercise during an average day. Treadmill desks are proving to be less popular and available, with fewer than 2 percent opting to ditch dress shoes for athletic shoes during the workday.

Mixing Business With Fitness

Looking to find new ways to stay fit at the office, several employees would jump at the chance to exercise more if the opportunities presented themselves. One long walk is the most popular activity – almost 45 percent of respondents just want the chance to log a significant number of steps with their fitness tracker. These workers wouldn’t mind settling for a short walk either, as 38 percent would take advantage of this activity.

There’s also employees who want to engage in exercise, but don’t want to sacrifice getting work done. They’re for treadmill desks (about 30 percent), standing desks (29 percent), sitting on an exercise ball (26 percent), and an under-desk elliptical machine (about 25 percent). Given the fact that they want to keep working, what employer wouldn’t want to find ways to make these options work?

Push-Ups for Men & Squats for Women

When we look at office exercise by gender, there isn’t much similarity. Men prefer to do push-ups more than women. Interestingly, 24 percent of men would be willing to do workplace push-ups if offered, but only 11 percent of women are ready to opt-in for some front-claps and one-arms. Women, however, love the idea of stretching and yoga, but men are less excited by the prospect of “Downward Dog” and “Savasana” – 39 percent of women versus almost 22 percent of men see yoga or stretching as an activity they’d make time for at work.

There’s only one area where the results are basically identical. Stationary bikes are the great unifier, with 33 percent of men and women in favor of recreating the Tour de France.

Generations at the Gym

Though you shouldn’t allow your age to define you, we saw patterns in the responses based on the generations of those surveyed. Baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials each have preferred physical activities they would engage in at work. Boomers feel the “boom-boom-boom” of a dance break and the joy of an occasional short walk.

Gen Xers, though, see themselves taking their office activities to new heights right from the desks – treadmill or standing. Millennials don’t discount many activities – including squatting, yoga and stretching, and even jump rope. From the looks of it, they’re willing to burn as many calories as possible while on the clock.

Industrial Exercise

Breaking it down even further, those working in specific industries have ideas about their preferred type of physical activities. Legal professionals see using a standing desk, an exercise ball, or an under-desk elliptical as some of the most appealing ways to work out while filing briefs or making motions. They also see taking long walks, using the stairs, and doing squats as ways of rounding out their objection to an increasing waistline.

Even though those in the government and public administration field might seem inflexible when it comes to “red tape,” they enjoy the idea of including more yoga or stretching into their daily routine. These mobility exercises might be just the release these employees need from countless rules and regulations.

The Top Office Exercises

Exercise requires a willingness to try, and there are certainly more or less enticing at-work fitness options. Taking a long walk break is the activity that came out on top. Perhaps it’s because they view it as a break; however, it is possible to get work done while walking. Just bring a friend along with you, or walk through your conference calls with the help of headphones or a Bluetooth headset! Set a step goal and challenge your peers to see if they can beat your score. There’s plenty of ways to turn long walks into a corporate culture with the right starting attitude.

Active & Inactive Industries

When it comes to some of the most and least physically active jobs, there might not be many surprises. Construction ranked second, while Wholesale and Retail ranked third – both jobs that require plenty of lifting and standing. But the greatest surprise was Marketing and Advertising, which topped the list of industries getting the most physical activity in the workplace.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the results are a little less shocking. These five industries – Government and Public Administration; Legal; Hotel, Food Services and Other Hospitality; Technology; Information Services and Data Processing – see the least amount of physical activity at work. They’re certainly top candidates for taking a long walk or trying out one of the many types of alternative desks.

Let’s Get Fit

Flexible and supportive bosses can lead to healthier employees, and a little encouragement goes a long way. There are certain industries where exercise is cheered on, such as Construction, because the role is already active. However, the industry least likely to get physical activity near their desks – Government and Public Administration – is also the second-most-encouraged to take advantage of exercise.


Everyone and every office is different, so the number of calories you can burn while at the office really depends on a number of factors. To see how many calories you can burn at work, simply enter your stats into the calculator, such as your weight, the amount of time you can dedicate, and the exercise you are interested in doing. Keep selecting new exercises to see how many calories you can truly squeeze out of your workday.

Balancing Work and Workouts

While some jobs encourage on-the-clock workouts, other industries may not be ready to jump on the bandwagon. So instead of putting yourself in that awkward position – if you do work in an industry that looks down on working out at the office – why not just put together the best home gym possible?


We surveyed over 2,000 employees in the United States.

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