Sitting at your desk for eight to 10 hours a day may be a necessary part of running a financial advisory practice, but all that inactivity can increase your risk of obesity, hypertension and heart attack.

As little as 15 minutes of exercise per day can ward off the negative impact of remaining sedentary, fitness experts say. In fact, you can even get in a workout without leaving your desk. Here are some suggestions to help you keep fit if you can’t leave the office:

> Stretch Your Limbs. Sitting at a desk all day can cause your body to become tense, especially when you find yourself hunched over in intense concentration for hours.

Taking as little as five minutes a day to stretch your limbs can improve your mood, says Nelson Beltijar, a personal trainer and private consultant with Toronto-based VillaBelt Consulting Services. “Stretching can increase your range of motion and body temperature,” he says, “which triggers [the release of] endorphins and makes you happier.”

You can do the following stretches at your desk to improve your blood circulation.

Start with neck circles. Tilt your chin down toward your chest, then move it across your chest, toward the left shoulder, back to a neutral position, then to the right shoulder and back.

Next, loosen your shoulders by scrunching them up toward your ears, then move them downward.

Stretch your back by interlocking your hands in front of your chest and pushing outward with your palms out. Hold at the maximum stretch for about 10 seconds.

Stretch your back and legs by placing your feet straight out in front of your chair and leaning forward to grab your toes.

These stretches break up the monotony of constantly sitting in the same position, Beltijar says, adding: “Stretching is crucial to combating back pain you might get from sitting the same way for prolonged periods.”

@page_break@> Pump Up Your Muscles. If you have privacy around your desk, try some dynamic exercises in your cubicle to build muscle, suggests Jason Fisher, owner of Toronto-based Kickstart Fitness: “The more muscle you can build, the more calories you burn when you are sedentary.”

Fisher recommends starting with simple desk squats. Stand up from your chair and then sit back down repeatedly and without using a counter surface for support. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles engaged and your shoulders pinned back as you rise and fall. It takes about 10 to 15 repetitions, he adds, to get the benefit.

You can also strengthen your legs as you sit in your chair by kicking one leg out and holding it parallel to the floor for about two seconds before lowering it back down. “By keeping your leg suspended,” Beltijar says, “you strengthen your thighs and abdominals.” Do about 10 reps on one leg before moving to the other.

You can finish your active routine with some desk pushups, says Fisher. Place your arms on the flat surface of your work area about shoulder-width apart. Stand back far enough that when you stand on your toes and lower your chest toward the desk, your back is straight and you can feel the tension across the widest part of your chest. Adds Fisher: “Be sure to keep your back straight.”

> Buy A Trekdesk. The Trek-Desk treadmill desk (US$479; allows you to combine your work area and treadmill into one unit. The TrekDesk itself is a desk attachment that fits over your treadmill so you can walk while you work.

The average North American is about half as active as he or she should be, says Steve Bordley, founder of Phoenix-based TrekDesk. “We need to walk at least 5,000 steps a day,” he says, “and the average North American walks about 2,000 steps.”

The TrekDesk features a manuscript holder, a cup holder and pen holders, as well as a flat work surface. “We don’t recommend you stay on for a set time,” Bordley adds, “but you can walk for up to eight hours a day if you want.”