25 Office Exercises: Easy Desk-Friendly Ways to Get Fit

triceps-stretch

Modern technology has given us plenty of benefits and conveniences, but with one major drawback: Most of us sit at a desk for for eight (or more) hours a day, five days a week, most weeks of the year.

And unfortunately, the very thing 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.

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. 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 a few of the flexibility exercises, which stretch out your muscles and simply feel really, really good.

 

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.

triceps-dip

 

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.

arm-pulses

 

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.

arm-circles

 

4. Desk Push-Ups

First things first: Make sure your desk is sturdy enough to support your bodyweight! 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.

desk-pushup

 

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.

wall-pushup

 

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.

chair-squat

 

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.

rear-pulses

 

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.

jump-rope

 

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.

calf-raise

 

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.

wall-squat

 

11. Lunge

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.

lunge

 

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.

seated-abs-twists

 

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.

chair-swivel

 

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.

leg-lift

 

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.

triceps-stretch

 

16. Neck Rolls

Relax and lean your head forward. Slowly roll head in a circle one side for 10 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Do this three times in each direction.

neck-rolls

 

17. Shoulder Stretch

Clasp hands together above the head with palms facing up toward ceiling. Push your arms up, stretching upward.

Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.

shoulder-stretch

 

18. Shoulder Rolls

Raise both shoulders up toward ears, then slowly roll them backward. Repeat, rolling forward.

Do this three times in both directions.

shoulder-rolls

 

19. Chest Stretch

Clasp hands behind lower back. Push chest outward, and raise chin.

Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths.

chest-stretch

 

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.

upper-back-stretch

 

21. Torso Twist

Place feet firmly on floor and place one hand on the back of your chair. Exhale and twist your upper body toward the arm on chair back, using your other hand to press against your leg for leverage.

Hold for 2 to 3 deep breaths and repeat on other side.

torso-twist

 

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.

hamstring-stretch

 

23. Bent-Knee Stretch

Lean back in 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.

bent-knee-stretch

 

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.

wrist-and-fingers-stretch

 

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.

eagle-arms-stretch

 

Shout out to our wonderful models, Meghan Duffy, Fitspot’s client success manager, and Jason Flake, Fitspot’s director of business development.