Working 40 hours a week — or even more, when the busy season comes around — helping your kids with their homework, taking care of your dog, cooking dinner, and all that commuting leaves little time to get in your workout. Sure, you could wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. to hit the gym before you shower and leave for work, but when the baby keeps you up until midnight, that’s not possible — unless you want to sleep through your 10 a.m. meeting. If you feel like you aren’t getting the exercise that not only keeps you in shape and healthy but boosts the endorphins and relieves stress, you are definitely not alone.
According to Fitness.gov:
- One in three adults gets the recommended amount of physical activity each week
- 28% of Americans aged 6 and older are physically inactive
This lack of activity doesn’t just affect your health; it can have a direct impact on your work performance and employee engagement. According to studies in the American College of Sports Medicine and published in the Journal of Workplace Health Management:
- 60% of employees said their time management skills, mental performance, and ability to meet deadlines improved on days they exercised
- 27% of employees reported higher levels of “dealing calmly with stress” on days they exercised
- 41% of employees reported higher rates of “feeling motivated to work” on exercise days
Clearly exercise is beneficial in so many aspects of our lives, even in our jobs (don’t forget that sitting for prolonged hours is actually harmful to your health). But not all of our workplaces sponsor lunchtime yoga or have gyms on site. Even then, it’s difficult to find the time. However, there are eight exercises you can do right at your desk — some even while you’re sitting down.
- 1. Seated Leg Raises
- 2. The Hovering Leg Raise
- 3. The Football Fast Feet
- 4. Chair Dips
- 5. Shadow Boxing
- 6. Water Bottle Free Weights
- 7. The Swiveling Abs
- 8. The Leaning Plank
- Stretch at Your Desk
- When You’re Ready to Upgrade, Exercise at Your Desk
- The 10 Best Exercises To Do At Your Desk
- When females sit with a foot under their derriere, are they pleasuring themselves? Why would someone sit in such an uncomfortable position?
- 6 Simple Exercises To Do At Your Desk
- 1) Leg Planks
- 2) Foot Drill
- 3) Shoulder Raises
- 4) Back Twist
- 5) Chair Dip
- 6) Take Frequent Walk Breaks
- Deskercise! 33 Smart Ways to Exercise at Work
- 25 Office Exercises: Easy Desk-Friendly Ways to Get Fit
- Upper Body
- Lower Body
- 3 Crucial Exercises to Combat the Desk Job Body
1. Seated Leg Raises
You can do these leg and abdominal exercises even when you’re in a meeting or on a conference call without people noticing. Sit upright in your office chair. Straighten your left leg so that it is parallel to the floor and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Now, do the same thing with your right leg. Repeat both legs for 15 repetitions. One you build up strength, try adding weight to your legs by looping your purse or briefcase on your legs while you do the raises.
2. The Hovering Leg Raise
A variant of the above exercise works out your core. Just like above, sit upright in your chair. But this time, raise both legs so that they are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your legs until they are hovering an inch or two above the ground. Hold the position for as long as you can, and then release.
3. The Football Fast Feet
Sit in your desk chair with your feet flat on the ground. Rapidly tap your feet in place, just like you would do if you were running in place. Do this for 30 seconds. Pause. Then do it for another 30 seconds. Work this in every half hour or so to bring up your heart rate without breaking a sweat that will embarrass you at your afternoon meeting.
4. Chair Dips
For this exercise, you need an office chair that won’t roll away from you. Scoot up to the very front edge of your chair, place your legs out in front of you, and place your hands on either side of your hips, fingers pointing toward your desk. Grasp the edges of the chair with both hands, and use your core and arms to raise your body up off the chair and then down so that your rear goes down toward the floor. Push yourself back up, and repeat 15 times. Do three cycles of 15.
5. Shadow Boxing
Not only will this exercise raise your heart rate and bring in some cardio, but it will also be a good stress release if you had a particularly frustrating day at the office. Raise your fists up in front of your face in a boxing position — while you’re sitting a safe distance away from your computer. Punch your fists forward in the air, as if you are using a punching bag, switching back and forth from right arm to left. Do this for 30 seconds. Pause. Repeat for 30 seconds. Again, like other cardio exercises, work this repetition into scheduled intervals in your work day.
6. Water Bottle Free Weights
For a simple, effective variant on your favorite free weight exercises, take two filled water bottles. Using these as weights, do overhead presses, arm curls, and other simple gym-style workouts right at your desk.
7. The Swiveling Abs
Remember when you were a kid and there was nothing better than a desk chair that spins? Use that fun as a grown-up for a great ab workout. Sit upright in your swivel chair and lift your feet off the ground. Lightly hold on to the desk with your fingers — but ensure that your hands or arms aren’t doing the work here, because it should be all core oblique abdominals here. Use those abs and the rest of your core to swivel the chair from left to right and back again. Do 15 repetitions in three cycles.
8. The Leaning Plank
This exercise requires you do get up from your desk chair, but it can be great while you’re waiting in line for the coffee machine or the microwave, or in those few minutes when everyone has left the conference room after a meeting. This is a variant on a plank exercise, using a very similar form. Step back so that you are at least a foot away from a wall and then lean forward against it using only your forearms for support. Hold this position as long as you can.
For a variant, get into the leaning position and lower yourself until your shoulders almost touch the wall, too, and push yourself back up. Repeat 15 times.
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If you are sitting down and reading this article right now, you should stop! Okay, well don’t stop reading, but you might want to stand up to finish it. I will make sure to give you some exercises to do at your desk later, and you’re going to want to.
Why? Well, if you are like most people today, chances are you are spending too much time tied to your desk buried in emails. Or maybe you’re whiling away the time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because you have a fear of missing out
Our modern lives have been engineered so that we can spend most of it sitting down. Unfortunately, sitting is literally killing us.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.2 million deaths can be attributed to lack of physical activity. (1) Our sedentary lifestyles are responsible for increasing our risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as a loss of muscle and bone strength. Perhaps even more alarming is that people who exercise regularly are probably still not getting enough movement in their lives to counteract the deleterious effects of sitting too much. (2)
All That Sitting Is Making You Fat
On average, we spend about 9.5 hours a day sitting. Compare that to the 7.5 hours of sleep we are getting on average, we are doing a lot of sitting.
Then let’s look at the typical work day. Most likely, you commute to and from your job in a car with comfy bucket seats. Or at the very least you may be sitting on something a little less comfortable if you commute by train or bus, but still sitting. You roll into the office and sit down at your desk and stare at your screensaver of a remote tropical beach while listening to voicemails. Meetings, conference calls, and maybe even a little gossip session, probably all done while sitting.
Did you have your lunch delivered so you could eat at your desk and keep working? At the end of the day, you sit down for the commute home where you most likely can’t wait to hit the couch.
See how much and how quickly it can all add up? That’s the reason that hour on the elliptical isn’t going to save you! The impact of all that sitting is an increased rate of obesity. (3)
The good news is that with a little more activity throughout the day, we can actually reverse the inevitable weight gain — maybe even lose up to 20 pounds — associated with such a sedentary existence.
One study looked at the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of obese women. The original assumption was that their RMR was going to be lower than their leaner counterparts. What they actually discovered was the obese group sat an extra 2.5 hours a day. By increasing their daily physical activity alone, they could expend an additional 300 calories a day. (4)
Little changes here and there can go a long way in keeping you healthy and happy.
Also, We Are Sitting Wrong
There are countless ways you sneak more activity into your day, aka exercise hacks. There are exercises to do at your desk, such as chair exercises and stretches you can incorporate into your daily routine. But before we get into the various ways you can exercise at your desk, one of the best ways to eliminate back pain and stiff necks is to make sure you are sitting properly.
Let’s be honest here, for all the sitting we do, we aren’t very good at it. We do a lot of slouching and craning our heads forward. Our heads are heavy, and the further forward we have them as opposed to being aligned with our spine, the heavier they become.
By maintaining a forward head posture, you are constantly compressing all the nerves that lead to those awful headaches at the base of your skull. Being chronically out of alignment causes fatigue and aches and can have consequences as severe as asthma, sciatic nerve pain, disc compression and arthritis.
Making sure your desk chair is the right height can drastically reduce neck and back strain. Your feet should be able to be flat on the floor and your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Keep your lower back pressed against the chair to help maintain good posture. One of the most important things you can do to avoid forward head posture is to make sure the top one-third of your monitor is above eye level.
Stretch at Your Desk
These 10 stretches you can do at your desk will keep you bendy and feeling good. Like yoga … at your desk.
1. Rubber Neck
Sit up tall and drop your right ear down towards your right shoulder (you don’t have to touch it!) and hold for a few seconds and repeat for the left side.
2. Reach for the Stars
Interlace your fingers and reach up towards the sky, as high as you can … keeping your palms facing up towards the ceiling.
3. Look Around
Turn your head the left and try and look over your shoulder and hold for a few seconds … repeat on the right.
Drop your chin down towards your chest and GENTLY roll your head from side to side.
Raise both shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times for good measure.
6. Chest Opener
Bring your hands behind your back, press your palms together, sit up tall and hold for 5–10 seconds.
7. Seated Toy Soldier
Sit up tall and extend your right arm all the way up towards the ceiling. Straighten your left leg out and raise it up as you bring your right arm down and try to touch your left foot. Do 8–10 on each side.
8. Knee Hugger
With a bent knee, lift your right leg up and grab it with your arms and pull it in as close to your chest as you can. Hold for 5–10 seconds and make sure and do it on the left side, too.
9. Reach and Bend
Extend your right arm over your head and reach out as far as you can to the left and gently bend over. Hold for a few seconds and do it the other way.
10. Knee Press
This one stretches out the glutes. With your right ankle on your left knee, gently press against the right knee a few times. Of course, after you’re done with the right side, be sure and give the left side some love, too.
When You’re Ready to Upgrade, Exercise at Your Desk
Stretching is fantastic, and it’s definitely something you should be including in your office workout plan, but what if you’re ready to take things to the next level? Check out the following 10 exercises to do at your desk. Go ahead, mute that conference call you are on, get your blood flowing and challenge your muscles.
1. Walk/Jog/Run in Place
30–45 seconds. 3–5 times. This one is as simple as it sounds. Stand up from your chair and get to it. Anyone can do this one, you are in control of the intensity based on the pace you choose. Want an even bigger challenge? Bring your knees up to waist level.
Now, before you panic at the thought of getting on the floor in your office … don’t! Remember, you are saving your life! Plus, there are options besides the floor. The modifications are to do them on the wall or on the edge of your desk. If you are going to do them against the wall though, make sure it’s not a cubicle wall or you could end up on your co-workers desk. 10 reps. 3 times.
From your chair, stand up, sit back down and repeat 10 more times. Simple!
4. Tricep Dips
Tricep dips can be done pretty much anywhere. Use your desk or your chair if it doesn’t have wheels on it. Position your hands shoulder-width apart on that desk or chair, then move your butt off the front with your legs extended out in front of you. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints.
5. Pretend Jump Rope
Hop on both feet at once, or alternate. Increase the intensity by adding the arm movements you would do if you had a rope.
6. Calf Raises
Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 10.
7. Glute Squeeze
This is an isometric move. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and hold for 10–30 seconds.
8. Shoulder Press
Look around the office and find an old phone book or a ream of paper, something that weighs a few pounds. Hold it at shoulder height and then raise it all the way overhead. 10 reps. 3 times.
9. Wall Sit
Another great isometric move. Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position and hold for 10–30 seconds at a time.
You can keep this move stationary and do it at your desk, or you could go all out and lunge down the hall to the printer and back. With one leg in front of the other, gently lower the knee of your back leg down towards the ground. Like you were going to propose to a co-worker. 10 times on each leg.
Leave Your Desk, Exercise Everywhere
Burning some extra calories at your desk is one thing, but how about getting even more movement throughout the day? These next 10 ideas are pretty ambitious. I would recommend picking one or two to start with and not trying to implement them all at once.
1. Park farther away
There is something strangely gratifying about the ability to get the nearest parking spot to the entrance, but parking at the edge of the lot will help you get a lot of extra steps in your day.
2. Take the stairs
Don’t like making small talk on the elevator? Take the stairs instead. The stairs are a great way to increase your heart rate and tone up those legs.
3. Do it yourself
Having an assistant may be a perk of your job, but if you got your own coffee and walked over to the copier more often you would be spending less time sitting.
4. Stand up
If you have to be on the phone a lot, what better time to stand up and do some stretches. Seriously, go ahead, the other person can’t see you!
5. Take a walk break
Schedule 10–15 minutes a day to just walk. See how many steps you can get on your fitness tracker. If it’s nice outside, go get some fresh air. Put it on your calendar to make sure it happens. Better yet, find someone to go with you and hold hold each other accountable.
6. Live chat
What if instead of picking up the phone or sending an email over to Bob in accounting, you actually went and paid Bob a visit? You get to move more, and I’m sure Bob would appreciate the company once in awhile.
7. Walk and talk
Why not have a walking meeting next time instead of sitting in a cold conference room at a table with stale donuts? And because exercise improves brain function (5), you may come up with some of your best ideas!
8. Commute differently
If you live in a city and rely on public transportation, try getting off the train or the bus a stop or two away from your usual stop and get some extra steps in. If you live close enough to work, skip the bus and hop on your bike or lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement.
9. Get to cooking
When you spend time in the kitchen chopping veggies and looking in the oven you are being more active than you realize. The added benefit of this is preparing your own meals is a much healthier alternative to fast food or something you just throw in the microwave.
10. Walk and fly
If most of your time is spent in airports waiting to go to the next town, use that time to your advantage. Airline travel can be frustrating with all the layovers and delays, but walking around instead of resigning yourself to your gate for another hour could actually relieve some stress. (6)
You now have an arsenal of tips and tricks you can use to help boost your health and reduce your waistline. The most important thing is to be aware of how much time you spend sitting and get up and do something.
Ideally you should get up from your desk at least once an hour, even if it’s not exercises to do at your desk. Set an alarm to remind you to stop squinting at that Excel worksheet and get up and move. Walking for just two minutes an hour can reduce the negative effects of sitting. You aren’t still sitting right now are you? Get up, get moving!
Read Next: 6 Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises
The 10 Best Exercises To Do At Your Desk
The word exercise comes from the Latin exercere, meaning to keep busy or at work.
But what the typical adult does at work is sit in a desk chair for eight hours, plus a sitting-down commute both ways and an evening spent in front of the TV. This is a recipe for ruin. Sitting all day increases our risk for obesity and puts us at risk for back pain, poor posture, leg cramps, tense muscles and sheer boredom.
Here’s something you can do about it.
In Pictures: The 10 Best Exercises To Do At Your Desk
Exercise is simply the act of keeping your body busy, using your muscles and bones while your heart keeps pumping. You may feel you have no time to do any such thing amid all the rapid-fire e-mails and six-person conference calls (and reading Web articles like this one). You’re not alone.
According to a survey by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, nearly 50% of adults in the U.S. admit that they don’t engage in the suggested 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate physical activity or the suggested 20 minutes, three times a week of vigorous activity. In short, about half of Americans don’t get the physical exercise they need.
But there are exercises you can do right at your desk to help you improve your body’s flexibility and strength with nothing but a few minutes and your desk chair. Just remember to check with a doctor before starting any exercise regimen.
Even when you’re not exercising, you should make sure you sit at your desk the right way, says Jason Queiros, a chiropractor at Stamford Sports & Spine, in Connecticut.
“It’s important that your desk chair be at the proper height to reduce strain on your neck and back,” he says. “The chair provides the support for your body throughout the day. Adjust the height so you’re in a 90-90-90 position; feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest and your knees and hips bent at 90-degree angles. Keep your lower spine flat against the back of the chair to maintain proper curvature. The chair will help keep the rest of your back and neck erect in order to decrease your chance of hunching forward, which can cause spasms in the back and neck and lead to headaches.”
Queiros also has advice about your computer screen. “The top one-third of the monitor should be above eye level, both to decrease eyestrain and to prevent hunching forward,” he says. “Make sure you’re not craning your neck forward.”
He adds, “Stretching is important and easy and can help diminish back pain. Try the neck stretch: Touch your ear to your shoulder and hold it there. For a chest opener, stretch your arms back as if you were trying to grab a pencil between your shoulder blades. Stand in a doorway, hold the door frame on each side and walk forward until you feel a stretch in your chest. Last, try supported back extensions. Hold your hips and gently extend your back by bending backward.”
Folks who rarely disengage from the keyboard often develop carpal tunnel syndrome. But this affliction shouldn’t catch up to you if you repeat this simple move every day. Stand at your desk, and, arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch (you won’t have to go far). Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day.
The “Magic Carpet Ride” works your core and arms. Sit in your chair with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat. Then place your hands on the armrests, suck in your gut and raise yourself a few inches above the seat, using your belly, muscles and hands. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat five times.
For lower-body strength, try the “Wooden Leg.” Sit in your chair. Extend one leg out straight in front of you. Hold for two seconds. Then raise it up as high as you can, and hold it again for two seconds. Repeat with each leg 15 times.
If this is too much to remember, take the stairs (two at a time!), not the elevator. Get up from your desk and go talk to your co-workers instead of e-mailing them. Park in the farthest part of the lot, or walk or bike to work. Sip water all day. A homemade lunch with lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains will help you steer clear of the vending machine while keeping your wallet fat and your waistline trim. Above all, just don’t be lazy.
Readers: How do you combat stress at work? Post your thoughts or suggestions in the Comment section below.
This article is an update of one by Courtney Myers that ran previously.
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When females sit with a foot under their derriere, are they pleasuring themselves? Why would someone sit in such an uncomfortable position?
I think you must be entirely unfamiliar with the anatomy and geometry of women’s bodies. I cannot think of a more awkward and inefficient way to achieve self-pleasure than to sit on my foot.
Why do women sit in this posture?
- To stretch out our lower backs, thighs and hips. The female pelvis is tilted slightly to the anterior, and sitting on a flat chair causes stress in the lower back.
- To sit up taller
- To achieve a more level lap, the better to support things like computers and heavy books
- If one lacks dangly bits, it’s not uncomfortable to sit on one’s foot
Chairs and tables, remember, are sized to fit the average man, which means they are poorly proportioned to suit the average woman. Try sitting in a chair that’s too tall for you sometime and balancing a computer on your knees. It’s an exercise in acute frustration trying to keep stuff from sliding off your non-perpendicular lap. As long as your knees will tolerate the bend and you maintain circulation to the sat-upon foot, it’s a pretty comfortable way to sit, all things considered.
6 Simple Exercises To Do At Your Desk
Did you know that there are strengthening exercises to do at your desk which can really improve your well-being? There are many exercises designed for those who are busy working an 9 to 5 job and just don’t have the time for a normal exercise routine. We also know that work can get stressful and it’s nice to be able to take a break, calm down, and then refocus on the task at hand. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite exercises designed to keep you in shape and help calm your mind when you need it most.
1) Leg Planks
Strengthen those beautiful legs while sitting at your desk. Trust us, no one will even know you’re getting a workout! Simply sit to the edge of your chair with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Gently extend your right leg out in front of you until it’s straight and parallel with the floor. Hold the pose for 10 seconds, release, and repeat with your other leg. Do the exercise five times on each leg.
2) Foot Drill
Another exercise to do at your desk is the Foot Drill. Remember how football players tap their feet in place while at practice? You can do the same thing at your desk! While seated, try tapping your feet for 30 seconds at a time – or longer if you can!
3) Shoulder Raises
These are a great way to relieve tension in your neck. Raise your shoulders up toward your ear, hold for 10 seconds, and relax. For an even bigger stretch, do just one shoulder at a time, then alternate five times each.
4) Back Twist
Relieve tension in your back by doing this great back twist. To start, sit in your chair and place your right arm behind your right hip. Twist to the right side and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Aim to do three on each side.
5) Chair Dip
While seated, place your hands on the armrest of your chair and move your bottom to the front of your seat. Slowly straighten your arms and lift your body off the chair, then hold for 10 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat four more times.
6) Take Frequent Walk Breaks
Okay, this isn’t an exercise to do at your desk, but it’s a great one! Your boss may not be thrilled to hear us say that, but frequent walk breaks and the opportunity to get a breath of fresh air should be an integral part of everyone’s day. Next time you’re at your computer and feeling sleepy, get up and walk to the break room – or even better, step outside and go for a quick walk around the building. When you come back, you’ll have gotten some exercise and even better, you’ll be refreshed and ready to work.
Next time you want to get a quick workout in while on the job, try these exercises for a great stretch that will leave you feeling good!
Deskercise! 33 Smart Ways to Exercise at Work
15. The Cubicle Dip
Triceps dips can be done almost anywhere, including a cubicle. Using a sturdy desk or a non-rolling chair, sit at the very edge and place hands on either side of the body while gripping the chair’s edge. With the feet planted on the floor a step or two away from the desk or chair, straighten up the arms to lift up the body. Next, bend the arms to reach a 90-degree angle so that your body dips down, hold, and re-straighten while keeping the body raised above the chair. Complete 8-10 reps.
16. The Stapler Curl
Trusty staplers are always guarded closely, especially the red ones. Seated or standing, take the stapler in one hand with the palm facing upwards. Starting at the thighs, bend the elbow and curl the arm up towards the chest, just like a regular dumbbell biceps curl. Pause momentarily and then lower the stapler back down. Continue for 12-15 reps, then switch. Don’t have a weighty stapler? Try using a filled water bottle or a heavy change purse (the vending machine can wait!).
17. The Namaste
Whether you’re praying for a project extension or for more defined arms, this move has you covered. Seated upright with feet flat on the floor, bring the palms together in front of the chest and push both hands together powerfully until you feel the arm muscles contract. Hold the prayer hands pushed together for 20 seconds. Release and repeat the sequence until you feel a little more zen.
18. The Secret Handshake
Let’s make a deal. Sitting up and with feet flat on the floor, clasp hands together as if giving yourself a handshake (with one hand’s thumb pointing to the floor and the other pointing to the ceiling). Then pull! Resist the motion of both arms (you should definitely feel this in those biceps). Hold for 10 seconds or more, release, and repeat.
19. The Fist Pump
Received approval from the head honcho for extra vacation days? Time to rock out to that Bruce Springsteen playlist while simultaneously toning the arms. Fist punch into the air like a champ (alternating arms, of course), and continue for 60 seconds or more—or until you realize the boss is right behind you.
20. The Knuckle Sandwich
So the big cheese said no to the promotion and returned your project covered in red ink. To relieve frustration and get a fab arm fix, try shadow boxing to the perfect boxing playlist. Stand (if you can) and throw out a few jabs, hooks, and uppercuts in rapid succession (just watch out for computers and coworkers!). Continue for a minute or longer to blow off steam and tone the arms, chest, and core.
21. The Flapper
Whether you’ve got a thing for the 1920s or enjoy mimicking penguins, this move is for you. Standing with arms by your sides and palms facing behind, pulse the arms backward for 5 seconds. Release and repeat for 12-15 reps. For best results, make sure to keep the arms long and straight!
22. The Casual Lean
Waiting in the hall for a meeting to start? Perfect time to nonchalantly work out the upper arms! Casually lean against the nearest wall, supporting your body with the forearm only. Now lean into the wall until the upper arm almost touches it, and then push back out. Repeat for 15 reps or until the meeting gets underway.
23. The Lumberjack
While this lumberjack may be wearing slacks instead of plaid, he can still get a good midday workout. Stand and clasp the hands together, resting them on the right shoulder as if holding an axe. Gently swing the imaginary “axe” by straightening the elbows and moving the hands toward the left thigh. Next, bring the clasped hands to the left shoulder followed by a swing to right thigh. Repeat 15 times on each side, or until all office plants have been hacked down.
24. The Office Genie
Want to add a little magic to the workday? Raise the legs into a criss-cross applesauce position while seated in a chair. With your hands on the armrests, push upwards to raise the body off the seat and remain floating for 10-20 seconds. After granting a few wishes, release back down to the chair, rest for a minute, and repeat. Craving more magic? Try this balancing act while in a chair that spins.
25 Office Exercises: Easy Desk-Friendly Ways to Get Fit
Modern technology has given us plenty of benefits and conveniences, but with one major drawback: Most of us sit at a desk for for eight (or more) hours a day, five days a week, most weeks of the year.
And unfortunately, the very thing can make us productive, profitable, and successful employees for our company can also harm our health—maybe even permanently.
Too much sitting can be blamed for health ailments such as weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions. One (slightly alarming) study even found that people who sit all day have a 40% increased risk of dying.
While we’re not saying your job is going to kill you, it’s a good idea to take some simple steps to improve your health at work. An easy place to begin: Simply start to move your body a little more at your desk.
At Fitspot Wellness, the company I co-founded, our mission is to help more people become more active at work. And we’ve found that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to take better care of your health and well-being on the job.
An easy way to start: Simply move your body a little more during the workday. To help you get started, we put together this list of 25 easy, desk-friendly exercises that’ll offset the effects of sitting all day. These exercises don’t require any sort of investment and will help you stay fit and maintain energy throughout the work day. The more you move, the better you’ll feel — it’s really as easy as that.
So, next time you feel like your rear might actually be stuck to your desk chair, try a few or all of these moves below. They’ll help get your blood moving, prevent stiffness and injury, and even build up strength. Pair them with a few of the flexibility exercises, which stretch out your muscles and simply feel really, really good.
1. Triceps Dips
To do this move, you’ll need a stationary (not wheeled!) chair. Scoot to the front of the chair, with both hands facing forward. Place palms flat on chair, bend your elbows straight back, and lower yourself straight down several inches, keeping your back as close to the chair as possible. Then straighten your arms to rise back to start.
Complete 20 dips.
2. Arm Pulses
These work your triceps and help stretch out your shoulders. Stand up at your desk with arms by your sides and palms facing behind.
Pulse the arms backward for 20 seconds, keeping arms as long and straight as possible.
3. Arm Circles
This move gives new meaning to the term “circle back.” Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended straight out to sides at shoulder height. Move your arms in a small backward circle.
Do 20 times in this direction, switch directions, and repeat.
4. Desk Push-Ups
First things first: Make sure your desk is sturdy enough to support your bodyweight! Then, take a few steps back, so you can place your hands flat on your desk, a little wider than shoulder-width. Lower yourself down toward your desk, keeping your core tight. Then push back up until arms are straight but not locked.
Try to do 20 reps.
5. Wall Push-Ups
Here’s a modified version of the desk version. Stand a few steps from a wall and lean toward it, placing your hands flat and wider than your shoulders. Lower yourself down toward the wall, keeping your abs tight to maintain a straight line from your head to your toes, then push back up until your arms are straight (but not locked).
Complete 20 reps.
6. Chair Squats
Try to bust these out between meetings, on a call, any time. All you have to do is stand up from your chair, lower your body back down, stopping right before you sit back down. (Keep your weight in your heels to work those glutes). Then stand back up again.
Repeat 10 times.
7. Standing Rear Pulses
If you’ve ever taken a barre this class, this move will feel familiar—but your desk is standing in for a barre. Holding the edge of your desk for support, bend one leg behind you, flexing the foot. Raise your heel up a few inches, then release slightly and press your foot directly back behind you. Continue to alternate between lifting your heel up, then pressing it back.
Do 20 to 30 reps, then switch sides.
8. Pretend Jump Rope
Hop on both feet at once, or alternate if you need to modify. You can up the intensity by moving your arms as if you were holding a rope.
9. Calf Raises
Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor.
Do 3 sets of 10.
10. Wall Sits
Slide your back down a wall until your hips are at the same level as your knees and your knees are together at 90-degree angles. Maintain the position for 30 to 60 seconds, then release.
Aim for 15 reps.
With one leg in front of the other, gently lower the knee of your back leg down towards the ground, 10 times on each leg. Do this move at your desk, or go all out and lunge down the hall to the printer and back. Don’t be surprised if your co-workers want to join in.
12. Seated Bicycle Crunches
This is the good kind of crunch time. Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Position your hands behind your head and lift one knee toward the opposite elbow, twisting your body down toward it, then return to the seated, straight-back position.
Finish 15 twists, then repeat on the other side.
13. Oblique Twists
If you have a swivel chair, you’re in luck. Use its twirl to your advantage with this oblique abs fix. Sitting upright and with the feet hovering over the floor, hold onto the edge of your desk. Next, use the core to swivel the chair from side to side.
Go back and forth 15 times.
14. Lower-Abs Leg Lifts
This is a super subtle move you can do anytime. Sit straight up, with feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg up at a time, keeping core tight. To make it more challenging, try lifting both up at the same time.
Do 20 reps.
15. Triceps Stretch
Now, stretch it out! Raise one arm and bend it so that your hand reaches to touch the opposite shoulder blade. (It’s OK if you can’t actually reach it.) Use your other hand and pull the elbow toward your head.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
16. Neck Rolls
Relax and lean your head forward. Slowly roll head in a circle one side for 10 seconds. Repeat on other side.
Do this three times in each direction.
17. Shoulder Stretch
Clasp hands together above the head with palms facing up toward ceiling. Push your arms up, stretching upward.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.
18. Shoulder Rolls
Raise both shoulders up toward ears, then slowly roll them backward. Repeat, rolling forward.
Do this three times in both directions.
19. Chest Stretch
Clasp hands behind lower back. Push chest outward, and raise chin.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.
20. Upper Back Stretch
Hold your arms out straight in front of you, palms facing down. Lower your head in line with your arms, and round the upper back while looking down toward the floor.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.
21. Torso Twist
Place feet firmly on floor and place one hand on the back of your chair. Exhale and twist your upper body toward the arm on chair back, using your other hand to press against your leg for leverage.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths and repeat on other side.
22. Hamstring Stretch
Sit in your chair with both feet on the ground, then extend one leg outward. Reach toward your toes.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other leg.
23. Bent-Knee Stretch
Lean back in chair. Hug one knee at a time, pulling it toward your chest.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths, then switch legs. *This can also be done standing up.
24. Wrists and Fingers Stretch
Office jobs mostly have us doing a lot of little things, like typing and texting. That’s why hand and wrist stretches like this one are so important! Standing, place both hands on your desk, palms faced down, fingertips facing your body. To intensify the stretch, lean forward. Hold the stretch until you feel the tension release.
25. Eagle Arms
This is a great stretch for your shoulders and upper back. While sitting, reach your arms straight out in front of you. Bend the left arm upward and sweep the right arm under it. Wrap your right arm around the left until you are able to grab the outside edge of the left arm or until you are able to clasp your palms together. Lift the elbows away toward the ceiling and pull your hands away from your face. Turn your head side-to-side.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Shout out to our wonderful models, Meghan Duffy, Fitspot’s client success manager, and Jason Flake, Fitspot’s director of business development.
3 Crucial Exercises to Combat the Desk Job Body
We’ve all heard about the dangers of sitting-even for regular exercisers, sitting eight-plus hours a day can lead to a higher mortality rate. But we’re still sitting the majority of the time, whether it’s while working, driving, or watching a movie. And that’s a lot of time spent in one place.
“Holding any position for a long period of time can wear on your body, especially if you’re sitting,” says Alycea Ungaro, founder of Real Pilates. “Sitting puts your muscles in a short, contracted position, and your range of motion gets reduced.”
We asked her for the most important stretches targeting the body’s most affected areas-the back, shoulders, chest, legs, and feet-to counteract the strain and shortening of muscles. Ungaro recommends doing these exercises at the end of your normal workout cooldown. “This routine takes all of two minutes, and if you tether these moves to something you habitually do, there’s a higher chance it’ll stick and make a difference in your body.” (Psst… Try this to Lower Your Risk of Death from Sitting in Two Minutes.)
A. Begin sitting with legs stretched out in front of body. Place hands on the mat behind you, palms back and fingers facing body.
B. Press hips up high, holding legs together. Keep head forward looking right down the center of legs. Lift chest up higher and higher.
C. Hold for 5 breaths or 10 seconds. Lower the hips with control. Repeat two more times.
A. Kneel on mat in an upright sitting position with legs together and feet underneath you.
B. Tuck toes under, bending them fully and stretching the soles of the feet. Place hands on thighs for added support. Sit and hold the position for 30 seconds. Work up to 2 minutes, continuing to lift in the chest and put increasingly more weight into the balls of the feet the longer you hold.
A. Kneel down and step one foot forward into a deep hip lunge. Place hands on your knees for stability and keep upper body upright.
B. Shift weight back, coming out of the stretch and then lunge back into it. Hold for 5 breaths or 10 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then switch sides..
- By Hannah Doyle @hannahedoyle