Simple Ways Keep Fit With a Desk Job

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2694-582041_computer_1.jpgWe all know that sedentary lifestyles and desk jobs can make people fat. But, is this lifestyle something that we can modify and increase our chances of staying slim?

When I started my first desk job, within a few weeks, I noticed a change in my physique. The busier I got, the less time I had for exercise and the more sedentary I became. My calorie level stayed about the same and I realized I gained a pound or two. A small weight fluctuation isn’t such a big deal, but over the course of a year or five years, that could result in major weight gain.

Top 4 tips to keep the pounds off at work:

  1. Schedule your exercise. If you don’t plan it into your day, it won’t get done. Other things will begin to seem more important and will become your new habit and routine if exercise is not scheduled in. Make a plan to exercise everyday or choose the two most hectic days of your week as your days off.
  2. Exercise close to home or work. The less you have to travel, the more likely you will be able to exercise. Try walking around your neighborhood or do a home exercise DVD. Jump rope in your basement or find a hill nearby to walk up and down. If you belong to a gym, make sure it is within a five minute drive and is open when you want to exercise.
  3. Every little bit counts. Even if you can only fit in 15 to 20 minutes, any exercise is better than nothing. The goal is to try to break a sweat everyday. Park your car far away from your job. Walk up and down the stairs at work or take five minute walking breaks whenever you can as blood flow increases productivity after all.
  4. Bring your lunch. It is likely your total calorie burn will be less while working a desk job, so you will need to eat lower calorie lunches and snacks. Bringing a lunch is one of the best ways to control your calorie intake. Remember to focus on fruits and veggies for your meals and snacks.

Do you have a desk job? If so, how have you learned to stay fit and healthy despite all the hours spent sitting?


  1. Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate

    I am sorry to hear you don’t like them. I will be sure to pass your comments along to our Consumer Affairs department.

  2. Spectra

    Whatever you need to say to sell more of those crappy bars, I guess…

  3. Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate

    For most individuals, getting the daily amount of fiber they need can be a real challenge. By incorporating foods like Kellogg’s FiberPlus® cereals, bars, and waffles, individuals can more easily incorporate fiber into their day. Many other foods are also considered to be a high source of fiber including broccoli, whole wheat pasta, and raspberries. All of these should be added gradually to the diet if you aren’t use to consuming high fiber foods or typically do not get enough fiber throughout the day.

  4. TonyK

    If I had to go with a processed or packaged food, I would opt for something that didn’t have hydrogenated oils the way the Kellog’s Fiber Plus bars have.

    Also, that super-mega dose of fiber in each bar is so unnatural… More isn’t necessarily better. And how exactly does one incorporate it slowly into your diet? Eat a quarter bar first…and then eat half a bar the next?

    I would stick to something more natural, like a Lara Bar….but only if real food isn’t an option.

  5. Hortense Stewart

    Thanks for all your advice. When I was in the corporate world,
    I was always active at the gym. I find there was snack every corner of the office and our group found every occasion to go out for lunch. So a group of us planned a walking team and most of us registered at the same gym where we could keep an eye on each other. it is not easy to keep slim and trim in the work environment. Good writing. Congratulations!

  6. Liz

    Great article, thanks for sharing the tips and information!

    The hardest part for me is not snacking all day. I eat breakfast and have relatively healthy lunches but if I have crackers or something at my desk, I can sit there all day and eat them.I’ll try almonds and veggies, thanks for those recs!


  7. Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate

    I love incorporating fruits, vegetables, and yogurt into my day; however, it’s not always feasible for me to leave my desk and grab these from the fridge. Having a few Kellogg’s FiberPlus® bars stashed away in my desk keeps me prepared for those types of days. I also find that I am less likely to grab junk food that is readily available in my office after eating one of these. Like any product high in fiber, these should be added gradually to your daily meal plan and you should drink plenty of water to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.

    • Marie

      I agree. I bring fruit and sliced veggies whenever I can, but there are JUST times I don’t have time to prep. And when I was an obsessive label watcher I found those to be the best sugar to fiber ratio that TASTED good (like girlscout cookies good!) and were CHEAP. Say what you want about packaged food, Sometimes it’s a good addition.

  8. Professor Tom Laurie, The Losing Attitude for Dieters

    Tell all your co-workers that you are trying to eat healthy. You would be surprised at how healthy snacks will start showing up. They will want to help!

  9. Spectra

    Actually, it’s better to bring whole foods to snack on–things that aren’t highly processed. I usually bring a baggie of almonds, baby carrots, broccoli florets, and a small container of salsa with a bit of plain yogurt mixed in to make it creamy. I also bring hard boiled eggs and apples or oranges. Any of those “bars” that have a lot of fiber in them are generally full of fillers, HFCS, and too much fiber for you to digest it properly. Most people that I know who’ve tried FiberPlus bars say they cause a lot of cramping and gas.

    • Mary

      I am so glad you said this. I came to this site because I started working a desk job and I started to have horrible stomach cramps. I thought I was getting fat because I felt so bloated but when I weighed myself I hadn’t gained a pound. I bought those Fiber Plus bars to stay full at work and get fiber. I was feeling so crampy and I really think it was those bars! I’m going to stick to carrots and grapes for work snacks, but I second what you said about those bars, I’m not even going to finish the box I got.

  10. Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate

    Bringing a stash of healthy snacks to eat throughout the day is a GREAT idea! I personally love any snack that incorporates veggies, fruits, or nuts since these foods contain fiber and can help you feel fuller. Kellogg’s FiberPlus(R) bars would also be an excellent high-fiber snack to consider.

  11. skinny beast (trainer/nutrition coach)

    Park far away from the building, pack a sack of healthy snacks (cheese sticks, nuts, cut veggies w/hummus, fruit), and nibble throughout the day, take the stairs, and invest in a pedometer with calorie counter challenging yourself to increase your steps weekly ( has them for about $20)

  12. Lana

    I heard that if you keep your printer and phone out of arms reach to the point where you have to get up to answer it or get up to grab what you printed it helps a lot. Don’t keep candies in your desk or on your desk either!

  13. Spectra

    I don’t have a desk job–my job requires me to be on my feet all day long. I barely have time to sit down for the most part. I think it definitely helps with weight maintenance. Also, I always bring my lunch because the hospital cafeteria is usually closed during my “lunch”–I work 2nd shift, so I eat at around 6:30 pm and if I don’t bring my lunch, I have to rely on the vending machine. One thing that also helps is that we have a gym onsite for employees, so I’m usually able to squeeze in workouts before or after work–it’s open 24 hours, so that’s REALLY handy.

  14. LBC

    I do all of the above. Brown-bagging saves a ton of money, too.

    • Tony

      What do you lunch on, I’ll eat almost anything trying
      a 180 trying to lose spare tire and firm up quick bad hip no pills or store bought bars?

  15. Kati Mora, MS, RD, Kellogg's FiberPlus(R) Wellness Advocate

    Bringing your own lunch to work is a great idea! I like to pack mine with a few foods that are high in fiber so that I feel fuller longer and can more easily resist some of those tempting company treats.

  16. Chris

    I like to stand at my desk and then walk around every 20-30 minutes or so for 2-5 minutes. I take the stairs whenever I can, walk to work, and take occasional lunch break walks. Bringing your own lunch though definitely helps and watching/avoiding the company treats in the office kitchen.

  17. O.

    I worked on my feet in retail for 10 years and I yo yoed, and gained, and lost, and so on. Not sitting at a desk didn’t seem to matter.

    I think it was from being near the food court and other food vendors and also being too tired with aching feet to exercise after work.

    When I did have some success it was because I condensed my workouts by doing 2 sessions in one day, and trying to get it done before the weekend.