I never recognized that I was slowly getting out of shape. I got enough sleep, worked a typical job and ate right. Unfortunately, the pounds started piling on and I felt more sluggish every week. Finally, it dawned on me that I wasn’t really taking care of myself.

I essentially laid prone in bed for eight hours, rode in a car to get to work and then sat at a desk for eight more hours. With other priorities in my life, I found it hard to remember to focus on my health and even harder to find time to work out.

Luckily, it turned out that I didn’t really need free time to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I learned several ways to stay in shape while at the office. Here are just a few of those techniques in hopes that they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

1. Don’t Go for Hours Sitting Down

If I’m being completely honest, I love the fact that I have a sit-down job. Unfortunately, this isn’t the healthiest thing in the world. Sitting down to handle my daily duties could literally turn into hours where my only physical activity was typing.

Studies consistently show that sitting for extended periods of time can shorten your lifespan. Fortunately, there’s a simple answer to this: stop sitting so much. From reviewing online literature, the consensus seems to be that you shouldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time.

This might sound “easier said than done” in an office environment, but it’s not as if you have to run a marathon every half hour. Simply stand up, walk to the water cooler, do a few calf raises or anything else that provides those vital minutes of getting the blood flowing.

2. Don’t Skip Breakfast

Breakfast may seem like it has little to do with staying fit at the office, but it’s actually connected to your wellness level for the entire day. Since you’re not eating while sleeping, when you rise, your body is ready for some fuel to kick into high gear. Eating in the morning increases your metabolism through the whole day.

Unfortunately, only one-third of Americans take the time to eat breakfast daily. This essentially knocks us two steps back before we even start the day. By eating a healthy breakfast before going into the office, you’ll ensure that your metabolism works hard throughout the day to keep those extra pounds off.

3. Have Group Workouts

One of the biggest motivators for staying in shape is having others on the journey with you. This is why I started an exercise group with three of my coworkers. We all meet up in the breakroom during our lunch breaks and devote at least 15 minutes to cardio exercises.

While this may seem outside of the box, that’s exactly where you need to look when trying to stay fit at the office. And since working out in a group has been shown to increase motivation and even burn more calories, it’s the perfect way to ensure a desk doesn’t turn into a health curse.

4. Drink Plenty of Water

I always thought headaches and fatigue were just a normal part of working in an office environment. Just like my ninth-grade teacher always told me, though, “Curtis, you’re way off.” It turns out that staying busy at my computer was making me forget to stay hydrated, which, unfortunately, was detrimental to my health.

There are numerous benefits to drinking water. The obvious one is the whole staying alive thing. By drinking at least eight glasses a day, though, you’ll reduce the occurrence of stomach ulcers, fatigue and even joint pain. The necessity to stay hydrated doesn’t go away just because you stare at a computer for eight hours.

5. Get a Desk Bicycle

Once I changed jobs, I immediately knew staying in shape at the office wouldn’t be as easy. The crowded employee areas made typical healthy measures more difficult. This is when I discovered the desk bicycle.

Unlike traditional stationary bikes, the desk bicycle has a pedal height that can be lowered down to 10 inches. This makes it perfect to fit under almost any desk, and it offers the opportunity to actually work out while you’re finishing paperwork or listening to voicemails.

The best part? It doesn’t really take up any space. Not even the most crowded office areas can stop me from staying fit while at work. With this excuse gone, even a busy work life doesn’t interfere with a healthy lifestyle.

I was always told that the only thing stopping us from staying healthy is ourselves. Once I stopped making excuses based on my schedule, I realized how true this statement really was. Even if you work 12 hours a day, there are still ways to keep in shape. The responsibilities in life may be demanding, but they become far more difficult when we’re not healthy.