I'm a full-time software developer and, though I love what I do, it is slowly killing me physically and socially.

I'm a physical, loud, animated guy, but there's really no outlets for that in this line of work (as far as I've found anyways).

I know there small 'office chair' stretches and exercises that I can do, but I feel those just barely address the issue. Furthermore, they feel highly contrived and they're a bandaid-solution to the problem; I want to fundamentally change how my job works to make it more suited to me rather than constantly be fighting just to counteract the negative effects of my highly-immobile job.

I've begun to more-frequently walk to coworkers' desks to ask questions, which does address both physical and social improvement, but there's only so many times in a day where that's appropriate before it starts to simply waste time.

So in your experiences, what are some steps that one could take to improve such a situation?

EDIT: Furthermore, is this something I can/should approach my superiors about? More worryingly, is this something that I would have to consider seeking a different work environment for entirely?

  • 2
    join a gym, we don't have a gym nearby but I have a benchpress and some dumbells set up if anyone wants to use them. Other jobs I've had I find a spot and do pressups. Some of us mess about with the weights probably 5 times a day, others don't use them at all.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 5:52
  • 3
    Related answers: Mental Issues from Lack of Movement
    – David K
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 16:40
  • 1
    Get a pet dog - two walks a day - meet people in the park and chat - Something to come home to you that always loves you
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 19:18
  • 3
    Create a floor keyboard a la "Dance Dance Revolution" Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Kilisi Interesting how you consider people stopping work to use dumbbells a good idea but stopping work for idle chit chat to be wasting your money.
    – Eric
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 14:05

6 Answers 6


Not everyone will be able to do this at their workplace, but here are a few of the things I've done or seen to get more exercise or at least less time sitting:

  • Park farther away. (Of course, this is assuming you drive as part of your commute.) Usually, I park in the row of cars farthest away from the building in which I work. This is by choice, as the parking lot is usually only about half full. In my case, that forces me to walk about 1/4 mile/400 meters more than I would otherwise. Similarly, if you use public transporation, you might get off at a different stop, if there is one that is not too far away. Also, of course, if you're on an upper floor in a multi-story building, take the stairs instead of the elevator; if it's a skyscraper you're in, you will probably want to do this for a few flights of stairs and then switch to the elevator.

  • Take a walk at lunch time. Pretty much self explanatory. I try to walk for 20 to 30 minutes. Sometimes it's to pick up lunch somewhere, sometimes it's just to get out of the office and get some exercise.

  • Start stand up - or even walking - meetings. If you have daily status meeting (perhaps as part of an Agile development process), you can make them stand up meetings (if they aren't already). I've even heard of people conducting such meetings as part of a brief walk, which helps everyone get some exercise.

  • Participate in an exercise program during the work day. I am fortunate enough to work at a place where some exercise classes are held (for example, there are classes for Yoga, Tai Chi (for health), and martial arts) during the workday (at/around lunch time) and/or right at the end of the day. Also, there are multiple fitness centers close by that offer weights, treadmills, stationary bikes, swimming pools, etc. I participate in some of the classes. Other people I know take a break during their workday to work out at one of the nearby gyms.

  • As suggested elsewhere, there are stand up desks which will keep you from sitting all day. Treadmill desks are an option if you have an office in which that wouldn't create a distraction.

  • Some may find this silly or unpleasant, but when you need to "use the facilities", use those that are farther away. I work in a fairly sizable building with several restrooms. When I need to go, I often go to one of those that is farther away. Also, it's recommended that everyone drink a certain minimum amount of water everyday. If you do this during your workday, you'll find that you need to go to the restroom more often, thus getting you out of your chair more often.

  • 3
    I go for a walk (well, try) around my building, including going up/down stairs several times a day. One of my previous teams would go for "walkies" (not sure who came up with that name LOL) outside. Highly recommend it!
    – enderland
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 1:22
  • 1
    I have an appointment on my calendar to meet with a coworker/friend every day for a walk and talk. I found scheduling the break made sure I would have time for it every day.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 21:31
  • A walking meeting sounds terrible - West Wing notwithstanding
    – HorusKol
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 22:12

Standing desks and treadmill desks can mitigate the sedentary-office-worker problem. I've had coworkers who spoke highly of both, and some employers will even pay for this equipment. (My current employer will pay for standing desks, but I don't know anybody here who has a treadmill desk.)

This, combined with frequent walks, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and lunch-time walks can add some energy back into your workday.

  • There's a coworker who has a sit/stand desk, the best she could get was for the company to go 50/50 with her when purchasing. I've considered it though, and it is an option.
    – DanTheMan
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 20:46

There's not all that much you can do during working hours, other than what you've already started. You're supposed to be working, not getting fit.

You could look into getting a stand-up desk. If you're in a multi-storey building, you could go up and down a couple of flights of stairs whenever you take a coffee break.

And what are you doing outside of work hours - could you cycle in? Or take a walk in your lunch break? If you can't cycle in - think about parking or getting off the bus and walking the last 20-30 minutes into the office.

  • I've cycled in a couple days a week during most months (a bit more difficult now with the season), and I sometimes get to add in a 15-minute walk on the way to work, and I've been increasing the number of times after work where I walk 20-30 minutes. It all helps, and I do other activities and sports, but it's really during work hours that I need to focus on.
    – DanTheMan
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 20:43

I was in exactly this situation end of 2013 and while it my seem extreme, my course of action was to go freelance to put myself in complete control of my working day and work-life balance.

Beforehand, I read up on tactics such as 'building a runway' - ie giving myself 3 months of savings in case it took a while to get back to the same level of income.

Demand for most IT jobs is growing, so if you're good and have a good track record, you're likely to be able to piece together a portfolio of clients. Mine includes businesses that we worked with at my company, agencies that use me for client projects, and my old employer!

By not having one client (or employer) who expects you to be there all day every day, it is much easier to incorporate both an exercise routine during working hours (easier for me as I have a young family) and a social life when it suits.

I have a Kangaroo standing desk that fits on top of my existing desk and works with a laptop. My calf muscles felt it a bit for 2 weeks, but 6 months on, I hate sitting down to work as I feel hunched up. I also end up moving around more because I'm already stood up - it seems less hassle to go and get a drink or whatever when you are already standing.

As far as the work goes, I now have the added interest of my success at work relying much more on me, rather than office politics and other factors outside my control.

If you find the office environment restrictive - lose the office!


The only other thing to add would be to replace your desk chair with a fit ball. This is comfortable and great for your posture, and you can use it to stretch at appropriate intervals too.


The software industry is not a work area where it's needed or required to be physically active, not at all.

Developing a really good system, large and stable requires several hours of concentration, hard work, patience and technical skills typically acquired by reading books and experimenting with several types of technologies which work together.

It's not required to be fit or go to a gym to be a successful software developer, many are not. If you want to be active, do your job and afterward go to a gym yourself, don't try to involve another person on this. It's not needed and not required for them getting into your fitness attitude.

  • 5
    I know it's not a requirement to be fit to be a software developer, that was never my point. Furthermore, I get the sense that by "fitness attitude" you picture me being some kind of super-active crossfit-bro, which is not the case at all. I'm simply trying to find ways to get more satisfaction and reduce the physical and mental negatives that come with my job that I love. I feel that saying "we really don't need this" is a total non-answer and is just closed-minded. I agree that there's a chance I'm in the wrong field, but that's not going to stop me from trying to improve what I have.
    – DanTheMan
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 15:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .