4 easy exercises you can do at your desk

If you work in an office then you’ve probably heard the “I don’t have time to exercise” excuse quite a lot. However, getting in a little daily dose of exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym at 6am or going straight from work to a killer boxercise class. You can get your own unique workout time in while you’re sat at your desk.

Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book, said: "We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day. As ergonomic as your desk or chair may be, sitting produces back pains, headaches, and listlessness. You become less productive."

If there’s a spare conference room, or if you’re lucky enough to have your own office, then doing 60 second bursts of cardio every now and then is a great way to get your heart rate going. Set a timer and do 60 seconds worth of exercise whenever you have a spare couple of minutes between tasks. You could do star jumps, walk lunges, simulate skipping or even run on the spot, making sure you get your knees nice and high. If you’re not lucky enough to have a quiet space to work out then you could always run up and down the stairs a few times each day to have the same effect - or at least make sure you take the stairs rather than getting in the lift on your way up in the morning.

Want something a bit less intense? Here are four exercises you can do while you’re at work:


If you feel a lot of strain in your back and shoulders when you sit at your desk then stretching is a great thing to get into the habit of doing. Sit up straight in your chair and stretch both arms over your head, alternating between extending the right hand higher and then the left. Or, sit facing forward and then turn your head to the left and your body to the right, holding for a few seconds before repeating the other side.

Stand, stand, stand

Although this doesn’t exactly count as exercise, standing up is still much better for you than sitting. Standing significantly increases your daily caloric expenditure. There are also plenty of subtle exercises you can do while standing. Making a cup of tea? Do some calf raises while you’re stood waiting for the kettle, or slot in some standing leg curls. Even lightly bouncing on the spot or doing some quick squats in a quiet kitchen will help.


Doing some muscle squeezes is a quick and easy way to get some exercise in while you’re at work. Take a deep breath and tighten your ab muscles, or do the same with your buttocks. Hold the squeeze for 5-10 seconds and then release, before repeating 12-15 times. You can also do this with your shoulder blades; roll your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together, holding for 5-10 seconds.

Exercise accessories

A common office stapler can be your workout best friend when it comes to desk-based exercise. Use a stapler, or a filled water bottle, as a dumbbell and do some bicep curls. Do 12-15 reps and then switch arms, repeating whenever you have a chance. You can also use a chair or the edge of your desk to help you do tricep dips, squats, or sit on your chair and do leg raises.

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