Part of the stress of work is the fact that it requires your body to be still for hours at a time. As humans, we are designed for movement, so sitting in one position causes aches and pains—and can even lead to poor overall health.

However, it’s entirely possible to keep your body happy and healthy during the workday. “There are many movements we wouldn’t consider exercise that are essential to the health of the tissues of the body,” explains Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA. “Bending, stepping, twisting, reaching, and even changing your sitting position throughout the day all add up to big benefits to our body—our muscles, bones, organs, and all the way down to our cells.”

Here are five simple changes to your work routine that incorporate more movement into almost everything you do.

1. Change up the way you sit. Constantly keeping your body in the same position adds to wear and tear. While you may need to be in front of your computer for several hours a day, you can change your sitting position—and your body will thank you for it. Sit cross-legged in your chair, bring one heel up to rest on your chair seat for a while then switch legs, or, if you can, sit on the floor. When sitting on the floor, sit in a wide-legged straddle for a few minutes or bring the soles of your feet together.

2. Stand up, stretch out. Alternating between standing and sitting is a great way to vary your position and create more opportunities for movement. You don’t need to transition to a standing desk or throw away your chair. Stand up for phone calls, or create a makeshift standing desk with a box and use it when checking emails. When you’re standing, have something to put one foot up on so that you can shift your weight and keep moving.

If you spend most of your day reaching for a keyboard, getting your arms over your head counteracts this while also expanding your breathing capacity and strengthening your core muscles. Every time you enter a room, reach up to touch the top of the doorway, or raise your elbows up to shoulder height and press your forearms into the inside of the door frame (you’ll look like you’re in the “stick ‘em up” position), then, if you’re not blocking anyone’s way, pause for a few breaths.

3. Kick off your shoes. You don’t have to move your entire body to rack up more movement. You can move some of your individual “parts” more, says Bowman. For example, you’ve got 33 joints in your feet that never see much action because they are typically stuck in inflexible shoes. When you can, take your shoes off (which allows those joints to spread). For even more movement, keep a tennis ball nearby and roll one foot at a time over the top of the ball, which stretches those joints and the over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold them together.

4. Walk more. Sneak more steps in whenever you can: If you need to talk to a coworker, take the 20 steps to their desk instead of sending an email. Have walking meetings. Drink plenty of water so you continually have to walk to the bathroom. Take a break between tasks to cruise around the office or go up and down a few flights of stairs. Using your legs’ big muscles gets your circulation pumping and brings fresh oxygen to all your cells.

5. Relieve your eyes. Looking at something (like a screen) that is always the same distance away weakens the muscles of your eyes and makes it harder for you to see things at different distances. To refresh your eye muscles, take a break every 15 minutes or so to look at something far away—ideally out a window, but even glancing into another office across the hall will help prevent fatigue and preserve vision over the long term.

Kate Hanley is the author of How to Be a Better Person and Stress Less and a personal development coach. She writes regularly on how to manage stress and take care of the many important parts of life. Visit her at