MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Health


Fitting activity into a busy day

Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension


University of Missouri Extension is taking a stand (or a walk) for being more physically active throughout the day. Dr. Steve Ball, state extension specialist and associate professor of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, now has a treadmill desk. This allows him to practice what he teaches by walking on a treadmill while he works at his appropriately-elevated desk.


But what about those of us who cannot afford the cost or space of such a desk? There are still lots of ways to fit activity into our busy days. Here are just a few ideas.


  • Use a cordless, wireless or hands-free phone and walk while you talk. Do laps around the house or around your workplace, pace back and forth in your office, or step out from the tractor and cross the field.
  • Stand or march in place instead of sitting during teleconferences at work or while watching TV at home.
  • Do some lunges (make sure the knee doesn’t go past the toes!).
  • Use lunch and other break times to take a walk in the building, outside, up or down stairs, or across a field.
  • March in place while sitting at your desk.
  • Do some seated knee-ups: Sit on the edge of the chair, tighten abdominal muscles to pull one or both knees to chest and lower slowly.
  • Do push-ups on the floor, at a desk or against a wall.
  • Do triceps dips: Sit on the edge of a stable chair, place hands on the chair seat on either side of you, move your feet forward and, holding your weight on your hands, dip down slowly a short ways and come back up.
  • Do calf stretches or toe raises: Sitting, point your toe and hold for 10-20 seconds, then pull your toes back and hold; to add the resistance of your weight to this, stand and do the same motion, rising up on the toes then coming down slowly.
  • Work your shoulders: Circle them forward and back, shrug them (squeeze those muscles!), pull them forward then squeeze your shoulder blades back.
  • Lift your arms in the front, sides and overhead; add weights or use water bottles for more resistance.


Fitting fitness in daily takes some intentionality, but it is possible and can make our lives better by reducing stress, helping with weight loss, improving focus and enhancing job satisfaction. This small increase in activity does not replace a complete exercise plan, but as Dr. Ball says, “Some activity is better than none, more is better than some, and too much is hard to get.”


Here are some links to other exercises that are appropriate at or near a desk, or wherever one might have to sit for prolonged periods of time.



For more information on nutrition and health topics, contact Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, at 660-425-6434 or or contact your local University of Missouri Extension office.


University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri

Last update: Tuesday, August 25, 2015