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In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Exercise gives us an outlet to release suppressed energies created by stress. Workout tones the spirit and conditions the body.”

When you think of something that can threaten your life, you probably don’t think about the chair you sit and work at. The truth is you can reduce your chances of type 2 diabetes, backaches, cancer, and any heart diseases by cutting down the time you spend on your desk.

You just have to perform small exercises to reduce such health problems at your desk.

One (somewhat alarming) study found that the longer you spend sitting down every day, the higher the risk of premature death.

Of course, remote working has not been all fun and games for many in the current scenario. The amount of time and effort they have put in home management and child and elderly care barely leaves time for a workout. But does this not mean they should put their health on the backburner? No, for such people, this blog has the list of 12 exercises to do at your desk.

That is why many companies are now organizing 10-15-minute desk exercises for employees. That is in addition to the online counselling sessions for those who are feeling emotionally and mentally drained.

Benefits of desk exercises

Let’s start with the benefits of desk exercises

Remember, the lack of activity doesn’t only affect your health. It has a direct impact even on work performance, productivity and employee engagement. As per a study,

  • 60% of people reported an increase in their time management skills, performance and ability to meet deadlines when they exercised.
  • 27% of respondents said they had a higher capacity of “dealing calmly with stress” on exercise days.
  • 41% of employees felt motivated to finish their tasks after desk workouts.

Along with the health aspects, the crucial benefit of the office workouts at your desk is that it improves your productivity. Regular breaks clear your mind.

Clearly, exercising impacts so many aspects of life. Sitting for prolonged hours is harmful to your body.

If your company needs a little inspiration, check out these 12 desk exercises your employees can do easily:

Aerobics Exercises at Work

1. Arm pulses

This is an excellent workout for your shoulders and triceps. Stand up with your arms straight by your sides and your palms facing behind. Pulse your arms backward for 20 seconds. Keep your arms straight throughout.

Arm pulses

If you feel confident, you can do this while holding a full water bottle in each hand or light dumbbells. Want to build muscle tone in your biceps, triceps, and shoulders? Do this exercise.

2. Glute squeeze

Squeeze your glutes as tightly as possible and hold the position for anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds. Do about ten reps of these. When you remain in a static position, this exercise works at specific muscles (your glutes, in this case). It remains an ideal exercise to do in the office when you need to stay at your desk, without moving around much.

Glute squeeze

Research indicates that squeezing your glutes for 1-15 minutes a day can help increase your overall body endurance.

3. Marching core

This will engage your core nicely and is discreet enough so you can do it even with open cubicles. Seat yourself at the chair's edge and lean back, keeping your core tight and your back straight.

Marching core

Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds before slowly coming back. To make it more challenging, lift one foot off the ground as you go back. Start with five reps of marching core, to begin with, and gradually increase the number over time.

Check this video tutorial for seated march>>

Strength Exercises at Work

4. Shoulder press

Hold something that weighs a few pounds, such as a thick book, a stack of paper, or a full water bottle. Keep the object at shoulder height with your forearm in a straight line with your shoulder and then raise your arm.

shoulder press

Hold the position for a second, and slowly lower your arm. Do three sets of ten reps each on both sides. This exercise will help you in improving your posture and core strength.

Check this video tutorial for shoulder workout>>

5. Desk push-ups

If your cubicle or desk area is spacious enough, push your chair to the side for the upper-body workout. Position your palms shoulder-width apart on the edge of the desk and move your feet back until the body is inclined towards the desk.

Desk push-ups

Gradually lower your chest while you breathe in, hold your position for a second and then push back up while you breathe out. Repeat as many times as you can, and be sure to do this while wearing the right shoes or entirely without shoes.

Also, make sure the desk is strong enough to support your weight. Otherwise, this exercise won’t improve your lower-body strength.

6. Standing rear pulses

Hold the edge of your desk, stand up straight, and bend your leg behind you with your foot flexed. Lift your heel a few inches, release, and press your foot back behind you. Do around 30 reps of these on either side.

Standing rear pulses

This is one popular desk workout for strengthening hip muscles and taking a phone call while standing up? Start exercising.

7. Seated torso twist

On a chair, plant your feet firmly into the ground and hold on to the back of the chair with one hand. Tighten your abs and twist your upper body back towards the arm of the chair while exhaling, and use your free hand to hold on to your leg for better leverage.

Seated torso twist

Hold this position for two or three deep breaths and return to the front. Be sure only to twist as far as you can while keeping your hips in place and your back straight. Do about ten reps of these on either side to strengthen your core and stabilize the torso.

Hold your twisted position for five deep breaths if you are up for a challenge.

8. Triceps dip

Get hold of a sturdy chair or a low table for the arm workout. Go right to the front and place your arms shoulder-width apart. Grip the edge of your chair or desk, then lift the butt off the chair. Slowly lower your whole body to the ground, keeping your legs extended in front.

 Triceps dip

The idea is to get your butt as close to the floor as possible. Remember to maintain a slight bend in your elbows to work your triceps and avoid straining your elbow joints. Who does not want strong triceps?

Stretching Exercises at Work

9. Seated toy soldier

Remember those mechanized toy soldiers that marched around your room during playtime? Here is your chance to recreate that. Sit up straight, extend your left leg in front and raise your right arm straight up towards the ceiling.

Seated toy soldier

Now raise your leg while keeping it straight as you bring your arm down and try to touch your left foot. Do about ten reps on each side. This exercise stretches the back of your upper legs, raises your heart rate, and fires up the core.

10. Wrist and finger stretch

Stand up at your desk and place your hands on it with palms pressed down and fingers facing your body. Lean forward to intensify the stretch and hold the position until you feel the release of the tension. Stretch out the muscles in your hands and wrists between all the texting and typing at work. Keep the carpal tunnel syndrome at bay with the wrist and finger stretch.

Wrist and finger stretch

Balance Exercises at Work

11. Pretend jump rope

If you are confident about getting a little more active at your desk without attracting unwanted attention from your housemates, jump rope is a great cardio workout. As the name suggests, you will be pretending to use a jump rope.

Pretend jump rope

Stand up, keep your feet close together and extend your forearms at a low angle in opposite directions. Start jumping while circularly moving your forearms, and try to time your jumps when your arms point to the floor.

Check this video tutorial for Pretend Jump Rope>>

Pretending that you are holding a jump rope helps regularize your jumps and improve your workout quality. A modification of this is to skip on alternating feet. It improves coordination, burns calories, and smoothens breathing.

12. Seated leg raises

The best part about seated leg raises is that you can do it even when attending a video call. It targets your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps all at once. Sit upright and keep some space clear in front.

Seated leg raises

Slowly straighten your right leg till it is parallel to the floor and hold that position for ten seconds. Slowly lower your leg and do the same on the left side. Do 15 reps on either side, begin with, and then increase over a few weeks.

Once you have gotten used to it, increase the number of reps or add weight by slipping your briefcase or handbag handle through the leg while doing it—an excellent way to burn calories fast and improve muscle flexibility and balance.

Final thoughts

Pick desk exercises that you enjoy and can comfortably squeeze into your schedule. The idea is to enjoy exercise at work - without breaking a sweat (though not literally). If you need help in getting started, follow the weekly plan of activities at your desk shared below:

Weekly plan of exercises at your desk
“When it comes to exercising and eating right, starting tomorrow is not the option. Tomorrow is a disease. There are no excuses for starting today.”
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Priyanka Desai

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Priyanka Desai is the CEO and Founder of iScribblers.