Desk-Side Exercises That Can Have a Lasting Effect on Your Health

Sitting in a chair all day can wreak havoc on the body. Unfortunately, people with desk jobs clock eight or more hours in their cubicle. You can easily get sucked into your work, and before you know it, a whole afternoon has gone by without a single trip to the water cooler! Over time, this sedentary lifestyle can lead to health consequences like mental fatigue and weight gain.

The good news is you don’t have to pump iron in the gym for hours to stay fit. Plenty of exercises can be done in 60 seconds or less right at your desk. You don’t need space, equipment or tons of time, either. All you need is yourself!

A few simple exercises each day can reduce your risk of chronic illness, banish stress and make you more productive at work. Put some energy back into your 9-to-5 with these easy, discreet desk exercises.

Exercises that build arm strength

Fit in a miniature workout with these arm-strengthening exercises.

  • Arm rest lifts: This exercise is great for anyone who has arm rests on their chair. Start by firmly planting both hands on the arm rests. Engage the chest and shoulder muscles to lift yourself out of the seat. Lower yourself most of the way down, holding that position with bent elbows for a few seconds. Then, push your body back up. Complete two or three sets of 15 repetitions.
  • Desk pushups: Push your chair out of the way, then grab the desk’s edge with both hands. Walk backwards until your body is at an incline, supporting your weight with straight arms. Do a few sets of 10 pushups (or however many repetitions you’re comfortable with).
  • Rolling bicep drills: You’ll need a rolling desk chair for this next exercise. Remain seated as you grab the edge of the desk. Push away from the desk until your arms are completely straight. Look at the floor to elongate your back. Then, engage the biceps as you pull the chair toward your desk, then push back. Repeat 15 times.


Workouts for toning the legs

Never skip leg day! Develop various muscle groups with a few quick sets.

  • Lunges: You can easily complete this exercise in a cubicle by standing in one place. Start with your feet together and hands on your hips. Keeping your back straight, step forward into a deep lunge until your knee barely touches the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Alternate legs and complete 20 repetitions total.
  • Squats: Bust out some squats while you wait for the microwave to heat up lunch (if no one else is in the break room!). Stand with feet hip-width apart, then maintain a straight back as you lower into a squatting position. Complete a set of 20 squats. For an extra challenge, try one-legged squats while holding onto a table or wall.
  • Heel raises: This next exercise is very quiet and works great for people with standing desks. Standing with feet slightly apart and raise your heels off the ground. Stay on the balls of your feet for a few seconds, then lower back down. Do as many repetitions as you can in one minute.

Quick bursts of cardio exercises

Take a break from work with some heart-pumping cardio drills.

  • Jog in place: Break up the monotony of the work day with 60 seconds of jogging in place. You can do this cardio exercise anywhere because it doesn’t require any room. Remember, the exercise is a jog, not a sprint! Move your feet at a comfortable pace until your heart rate goes up. Lift your knees high if you want a more challenging workout.
  • Jumping jacks: Jumping jacks are a super easy cardio drill you probably learned back in kindergarten. They’re great for beginners, but jumping jacks are also very effective at elevating your heart rate. Bust out a quick set of jumping jacks whenever you need a break from work. Complete this exercise for 30 seconds or until you reach 20 repetitions.
  • Take the stairs: Traveling between floors gives you the perfect excuse to squeeze in some cardio. Instead of taking the elevator, walk up a couple flights of stairs. This gravity-defying workout will make those leg muscles burn and put you out of breath! Raise the intensity by jogging up the stairs or taking two steps at a time.

You don’t need a treadmill and weight machines to stay in shape. Sprinkle a few of these short and sweet exercises throughout the work day to boost your physical and mental health. Quick bursts of exercise can also improve your performance at work. Give yourself regular breaks—they make a world of difference!

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