Our bodies were meant to be active. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day increases our risk of obesity, neck and back pain, fatigue, and tense, achy muscles.
The good news is that there are things you can do right at your desk to help keep fit. These desk exercises improve flexibility and strength (plus work out those pesky neck and back kinks) but are subtle enough not to draw the attention of the entire office. All you need is a desk, your desk chair, and a few minutes. Let’s get started!
Posture & Core Strength Exercises
This unbelievably simple resistance exercise is great for your abs...and no one will know you’re doing it!
Sit up straight, and tighten your ab muscles—imagine you’re pulling your belly button in towards your spine. You can either do multiple quick reps (12-15) or hold it as long as you can, as many times as you can. Do this exercise several times throughout the day, and you’ll be seeing stronger abs before you know it.
Did you know that your swiveling desk chair is a great tool for working your abs? Lift your feet off the floor, and place your hands lightly on your desk for leverage. Swivel back and forth in your chair, letting your abs do the work.
You get a double benefit with this exercise—it helps tighten abs and improve posture. While seated, lift one leg out straight, and hold for 10 seconds. Lower it nearly to the floor and hold again. Repeat with the other leg.
This exercise is only effective if you keep your back straight. That will require your ab muscles to engage in order to hold the lifts.
Reach for the Sky
Back and shoulders feeling stiff and achy? Sit up straight in your chair and stretch both arms up. Really reach for it! After about 10 seconds, extend one hand higher, and then the other. You should feel a really nice stretch all along your arms and sides.
Upper Body Exercises
First, make sure your desk is stable and solid enough to support your weight. Place your hands at the edge of your desk and walk your feet back so you’re at a 45 degree angle. Do 12-15 pushups against the desk.
This exercise works your chest and shoulders. First, make sure your chair is stable and steady. Place your hands on your chair arms, and slowly lift yourself off the seat. Lower yourself down, but stop just short of the seat and hold that position for a few seconds. Do this 12-15 times.
Shoulder Blade Squeezes
Catching yourself hunching over the desk? Sit up straight, and try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, release, then repeat.
Lower Body Exercises
Standing Calf Raises
Here’s an easy way to strengthen your calf muscles. Standing with your feet together, rise up on your toes and raise your calves. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat. You can steady yourself using the back of your desk chair if needed.
Stand about 6” in front of your desk chair. Holding your arms out in front of you, lower yourself until your rear hits the chair, then quickly stand back up. Feeling conspicuous? You can hover over your chair instead, holding as long as you can.
While seated, extend one leg out straight in front of you. Hold for 2 seconds. Lower it nearly to the floor and hold for another 2 seconds. Repeat with each leg 15 times.
Not only will these desk exercises help you stay fit, but they’re a great energy boost during a sluggish afternoon at the office. Try them this week and see what a difference they make.
Do you have a favorite desk exercise that isn’t listed here? Please share in the comments!