8 Office Exercises You Can Do Discreetly at Your Desk

Posted by Jamie Bell on Mon, Apr, 17, 2017

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When the mid-day slump strikes, it's unlikely that you'll be willing to get up out of your office chair and do a set of burpees in the hallway. If you want to get a little fitness routine in and boost your energy, try these subtle suggestions for exercises you can do at your desk without announcing your workout to your cubicle neighbors!

The Wall Sit

A wall sit is perfect for silently building strength and endurance. Try it against an open cubicle wall or when you're waiting at the microwave for your meal to heat up. Stand with your back against the wall, bend your knees and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 60 seconds. Bonus move: Cross your right ankle over your left knee for a one-legged wall sit. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch.  

The Magic Carpet Ride

If you have a sturdy workout chair, this is an excellent exercise for working your arms and core. Sit cross-legged in your chair, with your feet on the seat. Place your hands on the arm rests, suck in your stomach and raise yourself a few inches off of the seat. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, using your core, hands and arms to maintain the position. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat five times. 

The Seated Reverse Crunch

Did you cringe at the sight of the word "crunch"? We find these to be easier than the traditional version. Scoot forward towards the edge of your office chair and place your hands on the arm rests. Keeping your back straight, bring your knees together and slowly pull them off of the ground, bringing them as close to your chest as you can. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly bring your feet back down to the ground. Repeat as many reps as you'd like!

The Seated Leg Raise

If your office has an open layout, this exercise will be a go-to move. While in your office chair, simply straighten out one or both legs and hold it in place for five or more seconds. Lower your legs without letting your feet touch the floor, then repeat for 15 reps, alternating back and forth. Bonus move: Add weight by throwing your briefcase or purse strap over your ankle.  

The Office Chair Dip

Using a sturdy office chair or simply the edge of your desk, sit/stand at the edge and place hands on either side of the body, gripping the arm rests or the edge of the desk. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, a step or two away, then straighten your arms to lift up the body. Next, bend your arms at a 90-degree angle so your body dips down (a tricep dip, for all of you exercise experts!) and hold, then re-straighten while keeping your body raised above the chair. Do 10 reps. 

The Bicep Curl

Using a heavy stapler, three-hole punch or filled water bottle, work your biceps with this basic move. While seated (or standing, if you want), take the stapler in one hand and hold it with your palm facing upwards. Starting at your thighs, bend your elbow and curl your arm up towards the chest as if it was a dumbbell. Pause, then lower the stapler back down. Do 15 reps and then switch sides.

The Desk Pushup

Begin in an inclined plank position with your hands on your desk and feet on the floor, tilting forward. Lower your body down to your desk until your chest touches the edge, then push yourself back up to your starting position. 

The Heel Raise

Stand up (or sit tall) and slowly lift your heels off of the floor as high as you can until you are on the balls of your feet. Repeat 30 times, then do one set of 15 on the left and another set of 15 on the right. This will help strengthen calf muscles and avoid the achy, tight feeling in your ankles at the end of the day.

While most of these are active exercises, keep in mind that simple stretches are also very beneficial for anyone who is stuck in a desk chair all day. Other easy ways to incorporate a little extra movement include taking the stairs, trying a walking meeting and/or implementing some of our active design suggestions, which often lead to great benefits for little to no cost.

Would other exercises can you try at your desk? Share some ideas in the comment section below! 

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Image created by Nensuria -

Topics: Healthy Workplaces


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