10 Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk
You know that sitting for long stretches is bad news for your body. All that sitting can contribute to high blood pressure, weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels1. You'd love to exercise more, but you have a 9-to-5 job and are stuck at a desk pretty much all day. By the time the end of the workday rolls around, all you want to do is get home and relax, not spend an hour or two at the gym.
Even your schedule is packed, you can still squeeze in a bit of exercise throughout the day. It's possible to get a mini-workout in without leaving your office. The next time you have a break between meetings or phone calls, try one of these exercises. You can even try a few of them while in a meeting or on a call.
1. Jumping Jacks
Feeling that post-lunch slump? Give yourself a boost and get your heart rate up by doing some jumping jacks. This exercise will work best if you have an office with a door or if you can head to a conference room for some privacy.
Stand up, set a timer for a minute, and jump to your heart's content. Need a refresher on how to do a jumping jack? Start with your feet together and arms at your sides. Then, jump up a little, spreading your legs out and lifting your arms up over your head. Jump again, this time lowering your arms and bringing your legs back together. Repeat, building up speed, until a minute is up.
You can do multiple sets of jumping jacks throughout the day, any time you need a pick-me-up.
Like jumping jacks, squats are a desk exercise that work best if you have a door or can get some privacy. Push your chair out of the way and stand behind your desk with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. You can turn to one side if you want. Slowly, bend your knees and lower your body, as if you were about to sit in a chair, keeping your posture straight and your knees straight above your ankles.
Raise yourself up again, then repeat 10 times or as many times as you can.
3. Leg Lifts
Here's an exercise that doesn't require you to stand. You do it while on a call or even in a meeting, provided you're seated at a table.
Sit in your chair with your back straight, your legs together and bent at the knees. Straighten your left leg, unbending from the knee. Hold it out in front of you for a few seconds, then bend the knee and lower the leg. Repeat with your right leg.
Repeat 10 times on both legs.
4. March or Jog in Place
When you're in the middle of a never-ending conference call, wake yourself up by moving at your desk. Stand up and march in place for 60 seconds, keeping up a good pace. If you're feeling particularly in need of energy, you can try to jog in place.
Want to take the show on the road? Instead of marching in place, head out to the hallway and walk around a bit. Going for a quick walk around the office gives you a chance to say "hi" to your coworkers and to check up on some projects.
5. Squeeze Your Abs
You're in a meeting and you're about to die from boredom. Why not work on your abs? Sit up in your chair, take a deep breath in and tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold the squeeze for as long as you can, up to 10 seconds, then slowly exhale and release.
6. Lift Weights Above Your Head
Got a few hand weights (under 5 pounds) lying around at home? Bring them to the office to work out your shoulders. You can also use full water bottles or something heavy like a tape dispenser or stapler.
Hold a weight, water bottle or stapler in both hands and stretch your arms up over your head, so that your hands are together holding the object. Slowly bend from the elbow, bringing the weight, bottle or stapler behind your head. Hold for a few seconds, then unbend your elbows and straighten your arms again.
Repeat 10 times.
7. Chair Dips
If you've got some privacy (or don't care who sees you exercising), you can work your triceps while on the job. Slide forward in your chair, placing one hand on the seat on each side of your body. Scooch your body off of the seat, supporting yourself with your arms.
Bend your elbows out, lowering your body toward the floor. Go as low as you can, then hold for a few seconds before raising yourself back up.
Repeat 10 times.
8. Arm Chair Twist
Got a swivel chair? Then you can work your obliques while at work. Sit in your chair with your back straight. Lift your feet off of the ground.
Grab the front edge of your desk with both hands and slowly twist in your chair, using your abdominal muscles to move your body. Return back to the center, then twist to the other side. Repeat 10 times in each direction.
9. Wall Push-Up
You can do push-ups on the floor in your office, but you might not have the room. The wall can step in and give you a flat surface to work on your core and arm strength.
Stand about a foot away from a sturdy wall then place your hands palm side down on it, about shoulder-width apart. Your arms will most likely be bent at a 90-degree angle. Tilt your body toward the wall keeping your posture straight. Push back, so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. Do as many push-ups as you can.
10. Wall Sit
Sitting can give you a workout, provided you take the chair out of the equation. Place your back flat against a sturdy wall then lower your upper body toward the floor so that you're bending at the knees. It should look like you are sitting, without a chair. Hold the position for 15 seconds or as long as you can.
Ready to get your workout in while you go about your daily routine? There's just one thing to do first. Check-in with your doctor before you start any exercise program, even a deskercise routine. They'll let you know if you're in good enough shape to start working out and might even give you some tips and pointers to help with your form.
1. What are the risks of sitting too much?, Mayo Clinic, May 8, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005
2. Exercise at Your Desk, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-at-your-desk#1
3. Deskercise! 33 Smart Ways to Exercise at Work, Greatist, https://greatist.com/fitness/deskercise-33-ways-exercise-work#Shoulders-and-arms