15 Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk During Work Hours
by Thom Brown
Office workers face an increased risk of medical issues, solely because of the amount of time they spend sitting down. Even if you work out, eight hours if sitting each day is simply no good for your health. If you want to live longer, achieve more in your career, and be happier, then try desk exercises. These improve your posture, help you build strength, and get your blood pumping.
Luckily, these are often easy to do and can even be done while you continue working. Here are 15 of our favorite desk exercises to keep office workers fit and healthy.
- Work Standing Up
Standing might not sound like much of an exercise but it comes with plenty of health benefits. Prolonged sitting has been linked with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. If your desk is height-adjustable, like the ones offered in Anyplace Select units, then you’ll sit down an average of 1.6 hours less each day. You’ll also burn 88 calories per hour, helping you to avoid many of the health conditions that afflict modern office workers.
- Calf Raises
While standing, there are a number of simple exercises that can be done, even while you continue working. An easy one is calf raises. All you have to do is raise your heels and shift your weight onto your toes while keeping your legs straight. You’ll feel your calves tightening. Hold it for a few seconds, then relax, putting your feet flat again. Do it 10-20 times to feel the benefit of this simple mini-workout. You may want to lean on your desk for support as you do this.
Stretching can help relieve the tension created by stress and sitting in one position for a long time. Most of this stress will build up in your shoulders and neck. Every few hours, just gently roll your head and shoulders to get the blood flowing and reduce the chance of cramps and muscle pain. Whether sitting or standing, you can also stretch your spine to prevent back pain, a condition that affects 65 million Americans.
- Torso Twist
Sit up as straight as you can. Then, breathe in. As you exhale, slowly twist your torso round to the side. Next, take five more deep breaths. Each time you exhale, twist a little further. You can then do the same but twisting the other way. This helps to tone your abdominal muscles while relieving built-up tension. Exercise is one thing but deep breathing also helps you to remain relaxed and stress-free.
- Yoga Ball
Sitting can be its own form of exercise but you need the right chair. Most chairs are designed to be comfortable but don’t encourage good posture. Instead, you could use an ergonomic stool that is designed to force you to sit up straight. This prevents back pain, increases energy levels, and boosts productivity. Even more effective, though, is sitting on a yoga ball while you work. This will strengthen your core muscles while improving your balance.
- Shoulder Blade Pinches
This one feels really good. The trick is to sit up at straight as you can, head held high. Then, tense your abdominal muscles. After this, push your shoulder blades back as close together as possible. Imagine you’re trying to hold a pencil between them, before relaxing them again.
At some point, you’re going to need to get up from your desk, whether it’s to grab a coffee, use the bathroom, or feed the dog. Don’t just walk across the room, though — that’d be far too easy. Healthy remote workers should instead lunge to their destination. This will work your quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes. Read this guide on how to lunge properly and safely.
- Core Braces
This is one of the simplest and most discreet desk exercises. You can do it at any time and others in the room won’t even notice. All you have to do is sit straight and point your pelvis slightly forward. Then, tense your core muscles and hold this position for around 15 seconds. Repeat this a few times each day and you’ll start to notice tighter abs.
- Desk Push-Ups
If you’re not in a position to do full push-ups, then it can help to lean up against something. This will help you to build stronger arms but aren’t as difficult or exhausting as getting flat to the floor. Remember, desk exercises should be light rather than completely tiring you out. Your desk is the ideal place to do a few push-ups while also reading an unnecessarily long email from your boss.
- Desk Plank
Another way to use your desk would be to plank. This deceptively simple exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen your core muscles while toning the rest of your body. Lean your forearms on the desk, clasping your hands. Your body should remain straight. Then simply hold this position for up to two minutes, until you can’t hold it anymore. I do this while watching work videos.
- Wall Push-Ups
If your eyes need a break from the screen, then why not stare at a wall instead? While doing so, you can be working out your upper body. Stand a couple of steps from the wall, lean forward, and place your hands on the wall, a little wider than your shoulders. Tighten your core and make sure your body is completely straight and then begin doing push-ups.
- Tricep Chair Dips
Your chair can also help you work out while working. For this exercise, though, you’ll need a sturdy chair that doesn’t have wheels. With your back to the chair, place your palms onto the seat, hands facing forward. Bend your elbows to gently lower yourself, then straighten your arms to lift yourself back up. You should feel this working your triceps.
- Wall Sits
What if you want to sit down but don’t want the health problems that come with sitting on a chair? Simple: try wall sits. Place your back against the wall and then slide down until your hips are in line with your knees and your knees are together, bent at a 90-degree angle. If you can see your laptop from where you’re sitting, then you can still be getting work done during this effective exercise.
- Jumping Jacks
Many of the desk exercises on this list involve limited movement simply because there isn’t much space. They tend to focus on building muscle strength, especially in your core and upper body. However, maybe you want to do some proper cardio. Unless you have a huge office, you probably can’t go for a run right now. Your best option, then, would be jumping jacks, which can burn between 8 and 16 calories per minute, depending on your body size and shape.
- Glute Squeezes
This is another one of the more discreet desk exercises. You can be doing this while communicating with your team via Zoom calls or even if you have a client in the office with you. All you have to do is sit up straight and squeeze your glute muscles (your butt). Hold it for a few seconds and repeat. This is the perfect alternative to squats if you don’t have time to take a break from working.
These desk exercises are designed to fit into your normal work routine. They shouldn’t exhaust you but rather give you the energy you need to be more productive. They’ll help you avoid the dangers of prolonged sitting and achieve a healthier body. Try incorporating a few into your workday and you’ll feel the results in no time.
Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.
Born in Oxford, UK, Thom has been a digital nomad since graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2016. He’s a freelance writer and founder of Thom Brown Travel. Thom specializes in minimalist, ethical, and meaningful travel writing.