Believe it or not, there are a ton of exercises you can do while sitting at your desk. Actually, the most important thing you need to focus on is the motivation to exercise. This is usually what trips people up.
When it comes to the exercises themselves, the options come down to your preferences, ability, and why you are exercising. For example, if you want to build strength then chair dips would be a great option for you. But if you’re looking to lose weight? Walking while you work would serve you better.
The goal of this blog post is to inspire you with various different exercises you can do while sitting at your desk so that you can get motivated and get yourself moving during your working day!
So let’s get into it.
6 Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk
In this list, you’ll find a mixture of exercises that don’t need any equipment and some that do. I’ve tried to split this up as best as I can so there’s something for everyone, including anyone looking for gentle desk exercises rather than jumping jacks at your desk type stuff!
Some of these moves will work better on your lunch break, or maybe even a few reps during your coffee break, and others you can do as you are working. So like I said, there’s something for everyone here!
Believe me when I tell you that squats are EFFECTIVE. If you do enough of them you will be feeling it the next day, especially if you have to climb the stairs to get to your office!
Chair squats are a little different from normal squats as you don’t have to go quite as low as you do with a traditional squat. You use your chair as the “bottom” of the squat meaning you don’t go as deep into the squat, making it more gentle on your knees.
To do a chair squat, you should start out sitting with your feet shoulder-width apart. As you sit on your chair, bend your knees and face them outwards, then slowly lower yourself until you are sitting on your chair. You will then rise back up again, ensuring you keep your knees outwards as you come up to standing.
If you are unsure if you’re doing a chair squat correctly, this video will help make sure you keep proper form and avoid any injuries:
Chair dips are the real deal. They mainly work to strengthen arm muscles but you can also feel it in your legs as a secondary muscle group.
It is essential you do chair dips on a stable chair so don’t even attempt this on a desk chair with wheels. A dining chair works best but you could also try the edge of your couch or anything else stable that sits around that height.
To do a chair dip, position yourself so you are directly in front of your chair, with your back to it. You may find it easier to be sitting at first, with your feet flat and knees bent. Then place your hands on the edge of the seat of a chair, keeping your elbows at a 90-degree angle. You will then push yourself up so your butt raises off the floor and extend your arms straight, making sure to keep your knees bent as you push up.
Finally, slowly lower yourself back down but try not to touch the floor with your butt. Then you will repeat this move, working your arm muscles as you go up and down.
This is another hard move to figure out with just words, so I’ve found a Youtube video you can watch to make sure you perform chair dips correctly.
I know what you’re thinking, how can I walk while sitting at my desk?! And you’re right, you can’t technically walk while sitting, so for this desk exercise you will need to change your work desk setup slightly.
I am a huge fan of treadmill desks. In fact, I’m writing this blog post as I walk on mine right now and I have found it very effective in my weight loss journey and for improving my overall cardiovascular health.
The setup for a treadmill desk is simple. Standing desks are great for this but all you really need is a standing desk converter and an under-desk treadmill.
Once you’ve got your DIY treadmill desk set up, all you need to do is dedicate a certain period of time in your working day to walking while you work. I prefer to do this in the morning and I will typically walk for a couple of hours to reach my daily steps goal, however, there’s no hard and fast rule on this so just do as much or as little as you feel you need.
This exercise is great for stressful work days. You can do it from sitting or standing but you do need to make sure you move your chair away from your desk to ensure you don’t accidentally damage your desk equipment!
If you want to work on multiple muscle groups, air punches should go across your body, not straight out in front of you, as this will work your oblique muscles as well as your arm muscles. If you just want to work your arms, punch in a straight line.
For those of you who choose standing position for this move, you shouldn’t keep your legs straight. Your knees should be slightly bent and shoulder width apart so you have a soft but sturdy stance as you punch.
If you want to take things up a gear, try holding something in each hand as you do your arm punches. You might grab a couple of bottles of water, some weights, or even jars of food will do.
Forward and Side Lateral Raises
You will need some equipment for lateral raises. Similar to air punches, you can use weights or something a little more “DIY” like water bottles, jars of food, etc. Just make sure you are holding items that weigh the same so you aren’t working one side harder than the other!
To do a lateral raise, your starting position should be standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be down by your sides holding your weight. You can then raise your arms forward, or out to the side, ensuring to keep them straight but with your elbows soft. Don’t over-extend your arms!
You will then raise your arms back down and repeat until you feel you’ve done enough repetitions. Make sure you keep your feet flat at all times.
As this is another complicated move to explain, here’s a Youtube video to show you the ropes:
Again, I know what you’re thinking. How the heck can you fit your bike in your office?! Well, maybe you can, but that’s not what I mean by cycling at your desk.
An under-desk cycle is a great way to work your muscles when you are sitting at your desk and the best part is you can do this move from sitting. A lot like a treadmill desk, using an under-desk cycle allows you to exercise while you work which means you can put in some serious workout time as you get lost in work tasks.
This one isn’t as much of a calorie burner as some of the other exercises mentioned in this post, mainly because you are sitting as you use it, but you’ll feel it in your legs if you put the work in!
Desk Exercises Roundup
Hopefully, this blog post has helped to inspire you with your own desk exercises. I know as well as anyone that exercising with a desk job can be challenging, especially when you have limited time or equipment to stay active while you work.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, a lot of the barriers here are down to a lack of motivation to exercise. But I promise that once you get started, you will find exercising at your desk relieves stress and, well, it just makes you feel good to get your blood flowing during the working day!
So up and at ’em!