You can still exercise at your desk job – give these moves a try

Our bodies are not made to sit at desks all day. Unfortunately, with a collective always-connected perpetually on-the-clock office mindset, many of us are tethered to our tables, staring at our computers for hours on end. This sedentary situation is certainly not doing our bodies, minds, and physical health any favors. On the contrary, sitting at a desk all day has some serious consequences. It impedes our ability to be active, drains our energy, promotes weight gain, and can even cause injury (tech neck, anyone?). What’s more, as noted by the Mayo Clinic, sitting for extended periods of time is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Fortunately, despite your inability to get too far from your workstation, you can find some creative ways to move your body and encourage blood flow – all without making a scene in the open-office or sacrificing your ability to instantaneously reply to emails.

Ready to embrace more movement in your 9 to 5 (and beyond)? We’re sharing some exercises you can do at your desk, in your chair, and while you’re working to move those stiff muscles throughout the day.

Woman working at desk
Jacob Lund/ Shutterstock

Subtle butt clenches

Of all the exercises for sitting at work, this one is as simple and subtle as they get. While seated in your office chair, simply clench or squeeze your tush. Hold for 10 seconds, and then relax. Do this for 10 to 20 reps or for as long as you can manage to keep your glutes going. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, so keeping this muscle strong will do wonders for your lower back and core as well.

Abdominal squeezes

Like the glute clenches, this exercise is almost undetectable. Sit up straight in your chair, inhale, and simply squeeze your abdominal muscles in during an exhale. Hold for 10 seconds, and release. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

Leg lifts

Sit in your desk chair, lift and straighten both legs completely, and hold them in place for 8 seconds. Slowly lower your legs to the ground, but don’t touch your feet to the floor. Repeat for 12 reps. Alternatively, you can do this one leg at a time.

Wall sits

If you have your own private office, you might be able to break away from your chair and engage in a few slightly less subtle movements. Wall sits are easy and effective, engaging your lower and upper legs as well as your core. Stand up leaning your back against the wall. Slowly bend your knees and push your back against the wall, sliding down until you are in a seated position. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds, and then repeat 10+ times.

Pop a squat

Stand behind your desk with your feet positioned together. Bend your knees and assume a sitting position, dropping into a squat. Hold onto the desk in front of you for stability, or, for an added challenge, lift your hands above your head. Hold and release, then repeat for 8 reps.

Use your desk chair

Have a chair on wheels? Use it as workout equipment, and activate your biceps with this easy movement. Sit in your office chair at your desk, push yourself back so that you are just able to reach and hold the edge of your desk. Lift your feet from the floor, and slowly pull yourself towards the desk. Now push yourself back again, all while keeping your feet lifted. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

Desk pushups

Stand up and place your hands on the edge or top of a sturdy desk. Angling your body, do a body push up using the table as leverage and ensuring your body is at a 45-degree angle to the desk. Repeat 10 times.

Stretching your body

Reach your arms over your head and stretch each arm a little taller, alternating sides. Next, slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder. Finally, roll your shoulders back in large circles for 30 seconds, then switch directions. These three moves alleviate any tech neck you may feel after a long session hunched over at your desk. 

Other ways to get exercise at work

Engaging your body throughout the workday encourages movement during your office hours, sustaining motivation. Additionally, it counters other side effects of office life such as lower back pain and poor blood circulation.

In addition to performing some movements at your desk, there are other methods to squeeze in a mini-workout during the day. Take a far spot in the parking lot or skip the elevator in favor of the stairs. If you’re brave enough to look a little silly, do some jumping jacks at your desk. Heck, reserve a conference room and get your yoga on.

While you’re making changes to your routine, consider upgrading to a standing desk or invest in a yoga ball. At the very least though, be sure to take breaks to stand throughout the day, as emerging research shows standing offers your body a host of healthful benefits. With a little flexibility, you get your work done and get a workout in. Win-win.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring. 

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