During my years in the corporate world, and being an athlete (not a particularly good one for that matter) for most of my life, there was nothing that would make me cringe more than someone at work suggesting to exercise together or participate in a group exercise class with my colleagues!   Perhaps this is not you and you are more than happy to engage, but for me, the sweat factor is one that I want to keep to myself and/or some of my exercise buddies (Rosana counts among those). However, a little moving around with my colleagues was always welcomed!

However, the truth is, we all need to exercise more and move more, and this can be achieved while we’re at the office or working from home. Companies can and should encourage their teams to do so, whether alone or in groups, according to personal preference.


Most professionals work in front of screens and sit for prolonged hours.  As you may have heard, some doctors consider sitting, the new smoking and we are not necessarily in disagreement.   Our bodies are not meant to hold the sitting position for long periods of time as it compresses our organs and stiffens our muscles and while working standing is an option for some, it is not an option for many.

In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, recent research, published in Personnel Psychology in March 2023, has shown that physical activity impacts work performance.   How exactly? It seems that physical activity generates what the researchers called “next-day resources”, i.e., resources that help you perform better the following day.  These resources are quality of sleep (of extreme importance for overall health but certainly for cognitive performance), vigor which relates to the amount of energy you would have the next day, and task focus which allows you to support enhanced information processing, attention, and concentration.    If you tell me that you don’t need any of these…then don’t read any further!

If you are sitting all day…

As a professional reading this article, here’s a great tool you can incorporate into your daily life: movement snacks! I wish I could take credit for the term, but I’m not that creative. I first came across this concept in Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s book “How to Make Disease Disappear,” and I found it fascinating and incredibly easy to implement.

If time is not on your side (we can help you with that, by the way) or if you are the type that exercises for one hour and then sits for 8, then you can start incorporating small bouts of movement during your day.

This concept has been supported by science. In a recent study published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (May 2023), researchers found that blood sugar levels were substantially reduced with a five-minute light walk every half-hour.   Add this to the fact that you will increase your overall performance at work and I think we have a winner!

Who doesn’t have eight-five minutes break throughout the day?  Think about washroom breaks and coffee or water breaks if you are in the office. 

Set an alarm in your watch to go off at five minutes past the hour and get up and walk briskly around.  This will add up to 40 minutes of movement during the day.  And you thought you didn’t have time!

If you don’t mind the group version, then find a colleague who wants to do the same and share the coffee or water break, plan to have lunch downstairs to enjoy the good weather (we are in Canada, so that happens randomly!), or simply walk around your office and reconnect with colleagues, which is especially powerful in these times of remote work. 

You can get very creative, in the end, it is only 5 minutes!

If you are in charge of your organization…

While I can’t discourage any organization to plan for group activities that can certainly help build team and culture, when it comes to physical activity, group participation is not everyone’s cup of tea.

However, you can still encourage your team to move more!  If your team is in the office, then make sure to create visual reminders in common areas such as the kitchen or the boardroom to encourage 5 minutes of movement every hour.   If you have a remote team, then use your communication system: Teams, or Google, to set friendly reminders on the hour to stand up and move (which can be optionally turned off by whoever wants to do focus work). 

Sometimes all we need is a friendly “nudge” to create a change!

It’s 3:05 PM for me, and it’s my turn to take a five-minute walking break!

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