How to stay in shape with a desk job

Updated on January 28, 2023
how to stay in shape at the office

The world of fitness is big and confusing. There are so many fitness gurus and social media celebrities out there who claim to have the secret to achieving a lean and muscular body. In the meantime, most of them are just trying to sell you some supplements or their latest “six-pack abs in just 5 minutes a day” type of program.

Understandably, you have no idea how to approach all of this.

You just want the answer to how to stay in shape with a desk job. Well, there isn't a singular answer and a template you can follow. Simply because you are a unique person, with unique goals and capabilities.

But hopefully, by the end of this guide by Office Topics, you will have a clear idea of how to approach your fitness journey as a person who spends most of the week at the office.

Let's just get something out of the way first.

Just because you work at a desk for eight hours a day doesn't mean that you can't stay or get in shape. Often office workers use their occupation as an excuse not to do something about their situation.

Don't be that person.

In fact, don't you know of at least one other person that works at an office just like you and is in great shape? And they look like they lift? Ever wondered how they manage to maintain their physique?

The answer is pretty simple: dedication to a certain type of training and diet.

Now, let's focus on you.

1. Define your fitness goal

office fitness

So, what exactly is your fitness goal? This is the first thing that you need to ask yourself. And if your answer is “to get in shape”, then how exactly do you define what is “in shape” and what is not. This requires a more specific answer.

Here are a few examples:

  • to lose weight
  • to gain weight
  • to lose fat
  • to gain muscle
  • to gain muscle and fat
  • to lose fat and gain muscle
  • to lose fat, gain muscle and strength
  • to be lean and muscular
  • to be lean, muscular and strong
  • to be big, muscular and strong
  • to improve your posture
  • to fix your hurting lower back

As you can see, just “getting in shape” is not specific enough. You can achieve your dream physique if you have a clear understanding of what your goal is.

2. How to lose (or gain) weight as an office worker

We can't talk about staying healthy and in shape with a desk job without talking about food. Your physique is a reflection of what and how much you eat. However, this is quite simple to explain. If you want to lose weight, then you simply need to eat less. And if you want to gain weight, then you simply need to eat more. It comes down to calories in versus calories out.

The first step is to figure out what your total daily energy expenditure is. In other words, how many calories your body burns in 24 hours. Here's a link to a TDEE calculator that you can use to figure this one out.

Here's the thing, you can lose weight through dieting alone. You just need to be in a calorie deficit. And if that is your goal, then that's fine, you don't have to go to the gym 4 times a week or get up at 5 AM for morning jogs (although these things will help a lot). Just track your calories, drink lots of water, and eventually you will get those pounds down.

However, if your physique goals are a little bit more ambitious than this, then read on.

3. Find an exercising routine that you will stick to

office fitness

Wait, just because you have a desk job, doesn't mean you can't get into a certain type of training or sport. Maybe your lower back is a little stiff from all the sitting but you can get into pretty much whatever you like. Besides, going to the gym and jogging in the park are not your only options either. Here are a few alternatives:

  • bodyweight exercises at home
  • bodyweight and resistant band training
  • swimming
  • gymnastics
  • boulder climbing
  • some kind of sport like tennis or basketball
  • boxing and martial arts
  • dancing classes

When it comes to exercising, the most important thing is to get into something that you enjoy and look forward to. The idea is to do it regularly. And you won't do it regularly if you don't enjoy it.

4. Be consistent with your training and eating habits

track your fitness plan

Change is hard. And the human body doesn’t like change. If you want to achieve noticeable changes with your physique, then you have to follow the plan that you have set up for yourself.
In order to stay consistent, you can:

  • keep a food and training journal
  • avoid junk food and alcohol
  • get quality night sleep after training
  • reduce or quit your smoking habit
  • actively seek content related to your goal

5. Seek help in your fitness journey

Your fitness transformation doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Why don’t you ask one of your co-workers or friends to join you in this quest for obtaining a better body? The best part is that you can keep each other accountable in order to stay consistent and you help each other out. For instance, you can have lunch together and enjoy those bland and boring fitness meals of carbs, protein, and vegetables. It will be great!

On the other hand, if you are totally lost and have no idea what sport or training regiment is the right choice for you, then consider turning to a professional. You can schedule sessions with a professional trainer, or you can consult with a nutritionist who can come up with a diet plan based on your goal and personal preferences.

Key takeaways:

  • Realize that your occupation and age shouldn’t stop you from training.
  • Figure out what is your personal fitness goal.
  • Train and eat in accordance with your fitness goal
  • Find a friend to join you on your fitness journey.
  • Seek the help of professional trainers and nutritionists if you are confused.
Written by:
Office Topics Logo 2 White
galin office topics square
co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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