9 Do-it-at-your-Desk Exercises

By Taylor Burton Published on June 15, 2022

Estimated reading time: 5 Minutes

Work hours are long. We spend a great portion of our day sitting at a desk, plugging away for 8 hours or more--but are you aware of the effect this can have on your body? According to Mayo Clinic, research shows that sitting for long periods of time can contribute to health problems such as obesity, increased blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart disease.

Regular exercise will not only improve your physical health, but your mental health as well. It is an excellent way to take a breather from the daily grind as it will lower your stress levels and kickstart your productivity.

Sometimes, stepping away from your desk is just not feasible. However, you can get creative with these do-it-at-your-desk exercises. They're easy to do and low-key, so you won't draw so much attention to yourself if you're working in a shared space. Give it a shot sometime!


Businesswoman stretching hands at her desk in office


Calf raises. First off, a standing desk might be a great consideration if you have that freedom of choice. If not, don't hesitate to take a stand! Stand up, stretch those legs, and go for a short stroll around the office. If you want to build some muscle and feel the burn, give calf raises a shot.

Stand behind your chair or next to your desk and simply raise your heels off the floor to stand on your toes. Lower your heels slowly, then repeat. For extra challenge, you can do this exercise on the edge of a step, but make sure to hold onto a handrail for safety. You may also receive some strange looks from your coworkers if they find you lingering in the stairwell, but if it's all in the name of health and wellness, it's worth it!


Seated leg raises. Here's one you can do quite discreetly, while still seated at your desk. You simply lift one leg at a time straight in front of you, parallel with the floor, and hold it there for ten seconds. It targets multiple muscles in your legs including your quadriceps and your hamstrings. If you build up enough strength to become a pro, add some weight to make it more of a challenge.


Healthy Life sign with road background


Neck and shoulder rolls. It's only too easy to build up tension in the neck and shoulders while hunched over your phone or computer screen all day long. Loosen up with some neck and shoulder rolls. It's as simple as rolling your neck and shoulders three times in each direction. Then shake it out!


Shoulder stretch. You may remember these next couple stretches from gym class! To stretch out those shoulders, simply bring one arm at a time across your chest and use your free hand to apply a bit of pressure. You can also stretch your shoulders by clasping your hands together and stretching upward as high as you can. This will open up your chest as well, which can help improve posture.


Business woman stretching her arm at the office


Tricep stretch. To stretch the triceps, bend one arm behind your head to touch the opposite shoulder blade. With the other hand, apply a small amount of pressure on the elbow to really get a good stretch going. Hold for ten seconds, then repeat on the other side.


Torso twist. To do this, start by sitting in your seat as you normally would. Then place one hand on the back of your chair or chair arm. Use it to aid in twisting your upper body without moving your lower body. This will work out any kinks in your spine and even build stronger abs.


desk workout


Core flex. Speaking of abs, there are a number of core exercises you can do at your desk and your coworkers will be none the wiser. Sit tall in your seat, pull your stomach in, and flex it as if bracing for a punch. Hold it like that for at least ten seconds, relax, and then repeat.

You can also engage your abs by sitting on the edge of your seat and slowly leaning backwards while keeping your back straightened. Move very slowly to apply extra pressure. It's similar to doing sit-ups, but sitting up straight rather than lying on the floor.


Wrist stretch. We've mentioned the importance of stretching your hands before and listed a couple of examples. Here's another great one that will engage your wrists and arms. Stand up and place your hands flat on your desk with your fingers pointed towards your body and press down. The results will be immensely satisfying after your hands have been working hard at the keyboard all day long!


Yoga. There is such a thing as desk yoga! Yoga with Adriene, a YouTube channel consisting of free yoga sessions, has a specific video for stretches you can do at your desk. In fact, it involves a number of exercises described in this article! It's a useful visual so give it a look, and next time, apply what you've learned during work hours for a nice refresher.

And remember: a little goes a long way!


Young beautiful businesswoman meditates on the table in office


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