Modern technology has given us plenty of benefits and conveniences, but with one major drawback: Most of us sit at a desk for eight (or more) hours a day, five days a week, most weeks of the year.
And unfortunately, the very thing that can make us productive, profitable, and successful employees for our company can also harm our health—maybe even permanently.
Too much sitting can be blamed for health ailments such as weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions. One (slightly alarming) study even found that people who sit all day have a 40% increased risk of dying.
While we’re not saying your job is going to kill you, it’s a good idea to take some simple steps to improve your health at work. An easy place to begin: Simply start to move your body a little more at your desk. If you are working remotely and looking for virtual ways to work out with your team try planning an online fitness class for work.
At Fitspot Wellness, the company I co-founded, our mission is to help more people become more active at work. And we’ve found that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to take better care of your health and well-being on the job.
An easy way to start: Simply move your body a little more during the workday. To help you get started, we put together this list of 25 easy, desk-friendly exercises that’ll offset the effects of sitting all day. These exercises don’t require any sort of investment and will help you stay fit and maintain energy throughout the workday. The more you move, the better you’ll feel — it’s really as easy as that.
So, next time you feel like your rear might actually be stuck to your desk chair, try a few or all of these moves below. They’ll help get your blood moving, prevent stiffness and injury, and even build up strength. Pair them with some branded fitness swag and a few of the flexibility exercises to make your muscles feel really, really good!
Page Contents (Click To Jump)
Desk Exercises: Upper Body
1. Triceps Dips
To do this move, you’ll need a stationary (not wheeled!) chair. Scoot to the front of the chair, with both hands facing forward. Place palms flat on chair, bend your elbows straight back, and lower yourself straight down several inches, keeping your back as close to the chair as possible. Then straighten your arms to rise back to start.
Complete 20 dips.
Pair with: A massage stick roller to wake up those muscles before your early morning dip session.
2. Arm Pulses
These work your triceps and help stretch out your shoulders. Stand up at your desk with arms by your sides and palms facing behind.
Pulse the arms backward for 20 seconds, keeping arms as long and straight as possible.
Pair with: Branded resistance bands that can increase the intensity of this do-anywhere arm workout.
3. Arm Circles
This move gives new meaning to the term “circle back.” Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended straight out to sides at shoulder height. Move your arms in a small backward circle.
Do 20 times in this direction, switch directions, and repeat.
Pair with: A set of neoprene dumbbells to tone your arm muscles and take your arm circles to the next level. (Squeeze the dumbbells as you circle to change the muscle tension of your exercise.)
4. Desk Push-Ups
First things first: Make sure your desk is sturdy enough to support your body weight! Then, take a few steps back, so you can place your hands flat on your desk, a little wider than shoulder-width. Lower yourself down toward your desk, keeping your core tight. Then push back up until arms are straight but not locked.
Try to do 20 reps.
Pair with: A set of push-up bars to alleviate stress on your wrist joints.
5. Wall Push-Ups
Here’s a modified version of the desk version. Stand a few steps from a wall and lean toward it, placing your hands flat and wider than your shoulders. Lower yourself down toward the wall, keeping your abs tight to maintain a straight line from your head to your toes, then push back up until your arms are straight (but not locked).
Complete 20 reps.
Pair with: A weighted vest to help strengthen your body and add intensity to your office exercises.
Bonus: The 7 Minute Workout
Get in shape in no time at all with the 7-minute workout. This high-intensity workout consists of 12 body-weight exercises that target the entire body. The exercises in sequential order are jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, abdominal crunches, step-up onto a chair, squats, tricep dips, plank, high knees, lunges, push-ups with rotation, and side planks.
To perform the workout, do the above exercises one by one for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise. Check out the Vantage Fit app, which has a dedicated 7-minute workout feature that will effortlessly guide you through the entire workout.
Desk Exercises: Lower Body
6. Chair Squats
Try to bust these out between meetings, on a call, any time. All you have to do is stand up from your chair, lower your body back down, stopping right before you sit back down. (Keep your weight in your heels to work those glutes). Then stand back up again.
Repeat 10 times.
Pair with: A weighted slam ball for when you want to really feel the burn.
7. Standing Rear Pulses
If you’ve ever taken a barre this class, this move will feel familiar—but your desk is standing in for a barre. Holding the edge of your desk for support, bend one leg behind you, flexing the foot. Raise your heel up a few inches, then release slightly and press your foot directly back behind you. Continue to alternate between lifting your heel up, then pressing it back.
Do 20 to 30 reps, then switch sides.
Pair with: Ankle weights add resistance to tone and sculpt your lower body.
8. Pretend Jump Rope
Hop on both feet at once or alternate if you need to modify. You can up the intensity by moving your arms as if you were holding a rope.
Pair with: An actual jump rope for when you have some space in the office.
9. Calf Raises
Stand up behind your chair and hold on for support. Raise your heels off the floor until you are standing on your toes. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor.
Do 3 sets of 10.
Pair with: A hand and wrist strengthener to work out two muscle groups at the same time.
10. Wall Sits
Slide your back down a wall until your hips are at the same level as your knees and your knees are together at 90-degree angles. Maintain the position for 30 to 60 seconds, then release.
Aim for 15 reps.
Pair with: A quick-drying yoga towel to dry off any sweat.
With one leg in front of the other, gently lower the knee of your back leg down towards the ground, 10 times on each leg. Do this move at your desk, or go all out and lunge down the hall to the printer and back. Don’t be surprised if your co-workers want to join in.
Pair with: A Neoprene Jogstrap for holding your phone.
Desk Exercises: Core
12. Seated Bicycle Crunches
This is the good kind of crunch time. Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Position your hands behind your head and lift one knee toward the opposite elbow, twisting your body down toward it, then return to the seated, straight-back position.
Finish 15 twists, then repeat on the other side.
Pair with: A custom yoga mat for anyone who wants to get out of the chair and do some crunches on the floor.
13. Oblique Twists
If you have a swivel chair, you’re in luck. Use its twirl to your advantage with this oblique abs fix. Sitting upright and with the feet hovering over the floor, hold onto the edge of your desk. Next, use the core to swivel the chair from side to side.
Go back and forth 15 times.
Pair with: A branded fitness tracker.
14. Lower-Abs Leg Lifts
This is a super subtle move you can do anytime. Sit straight up, with feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg up at a time, keeping core tight. To make it more challenging, try lifting both up at the same time.
Do 20 reps.
Pair with: A massage ball to relive your tight muscles before your exercise.
Desk Exercises: Stretches
15. Triceps Stretch
Now, stretch it out! Raise one arm and bend it so that your hand reaches to touch the opposite shoulder blade. (It’s OK if you can’t actually reach it.) Use your other hand and pull the elbow toward your head.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Pair with: A hoodie to keep muscles warm and avoid cramping.
16. Neck Rolls
Relax and lean your head forward. Slowly roll head in a circle on one side for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Do this three times in each direction.
Pair with: A mini massager to extend the benefits of the stretch.
17. Shoulder Stretch
Clasp hands together above the head with palms facing up toward the ceiling. Push your arms up, stretching upward.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.
Pair with: A customized backpack that will feel good on your limber shoulders.
18. Shoulder Rolls
Raise both shoulders up toward ears, then slowly roll them backward. Repeat, rolling forward.
Do this three times in both directions.
Pair with: A tank top for showing off those sculpted shoulders.
19. Chest Stretch
Clasp hands behind the lower back. Push chest outward, and raise chin.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.
Pair with: Bendy bracelets custom-printed with workout reminders and inspirations.
20. Upper Back Stretch
Hold your arms out straight in front of you, palms facing down. Lower your head in line with your arms, and round the upper back while looking down toward the floor.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.
Pair with: Branded, sweet-smelling lotion to enhance your zen vibes.
21. Torso Twist
Place feet firmly on the floor and place one hand on the back of your chair. Exhale and twist your upper body toward the arm on the chair back, using your other hand to press against your leg for leverage.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
Pair with: A customized frisbee you can hold to make twisting more fun.
22. Hamstring Stretch
Sit in your chair with both feet on the ground, then extend one leg outward. Reach toward your toes.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other leg.
Pair with: A yoga band to deepen your stretch.
23. Bent-Knee Stretch
Lean back in the chair. Hug one knee at a time, pulling it toward your chest.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths, then switch legs. *This can also be done standing up.
Pair with: A cool company water bottle.
24. Wrists and Fingers Stretch
Office jobs mostly have us doing a lot of little things, like typing and texting. That’s why hand and wrist stretches like this one are so important! Standing, place both hands on your desk, palms faced down, fingertips facing your body. To intensify the stretch, lean forward. Hold the stretch until you feel the tension release.
Pair with: Mints for making your breath as fresh as your newly stretched body.
25. Eagle Arms
This is a great stretch for your shoulders and upper back. While sitting, reach your arms straight out in front of you. Bend the left arm upward and sweep the right arm under it. Wrap your right arm around the left until you are able to grab the outside edge of the left arm or until you are able to clasp your palms together. Lift the elbows away toward the ceiling and pull your hands away from your face. Turn your head side-to-side.
Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Pair with: A yoga mat and case for encouraging out-of-office or home office fitness.
Shout out to our wonderful models, Meghan Duffy, Fitspot’s client success manager, and Jason Flake, Fitspot’s director of business development.
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