Office Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk

The average office day can span most of the daylight hours, so it can be difficult for people to hit the gym and stay healthy.

Office exercises are a must for the average employee who wants to stay lean while sitting at the office.There’s no need to take a dumbbell to work. Not that you could (but if you could then I’m jealous). Still, there are better ways to get fit using effective office exercises. From our recently published post on creating a healthy workplace environment, a healthy workplace environment is ideal when it comes to maintaining a positive outcome in a stressful atmosphere.

You’re obviously looking for the minimal sweatiness, so here are our picks for the best to get you that bit more active at work whilst staying business fresh. Before you say it, you should couple this with eating healthily. Still, doing these exercises, there’s no reason why you can’t get a bit stronger, fitter or healthier within the confines of your desk.

It’s clear that when you’re working out from your desk you won’t manage the same sort of range as you would in a gym. Nevertheless, office exercise can make all the difference (yes, even if it is just for 10 minutes). So here are our picks for 6 great office exercises you can do at your desk.

Desk dips and push-ups

Tricep dips and push-ups are for many, a gym staple. When done together, creates an effective superset. A superset is two or more sets of exercises, within the set. When doing your superset of office exercises, you’ll be targeting different muscle groups. With these two exercises, you’ll minimise exercise time and maximise the muscles worked.

The muscle groups targeted are all upper body and core. Dips target many areas. The triceps, shoulders and the latissimus dorsi (lats). While the push-ups target your pecks, lats and tripceps.
To dip, face away from your desk with your hands behind your body, firmly on the desk surface. With your feet in front of you and flat on the floor, proceed to lower your body as if you’re sitting on a chair. Dip downward until your shoulders are parallel with your bent elbows then return up.

A push-up consists of placing your hands on the floor, shoulder width apart and lowering your body to the floor. Your body is straight, with only hands and feet touching the ground. Keep your body straight and lower until your parallel with the floor, but not touching it, then return up again.

For this one, aim for three supersets of 8-12 repetitions, or reps, with a break of about a minute or two between supersets.

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Photo: Fit Approach, Flickr

Photo: Fit Approach, Flickr


Ah, the humble shrug. Often reserved for the unknowing toddler or the uncaring teenager, this exercise is making a comeback in the gym and subsequently the office.  Whilst holding your bag, water bottle, laptop or anything else, with either one arm at a time or both together. Just shrug your shoulder up and down for three sets of 8-12 reps. Make sure you’re not going too quickly and not moving your shoulders in circular motions.

The shrug is a compound movement. Hitting your trapezius, your neck muscles and parts of your shoulders, you can really make your shrugs count. It’s a low impact exercise, allowing you to discreetly get the back you’ve always dreamt of.

Sitting leg raises

As far as office exercises go, the sitting leg raises are one of the most inconspicuous. Being a compound movement, you target more muscle groups, faster. This exercise, mainly targets your abs and core, while also helping your thighs and quads.

Start by sitting with both of your legs together, underneath your desk. Next, begin to raise them out in front of you, keeping them straight. When you reach the top, squeeze for a few seconds and then lower.

Do this office exercise for three sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Standing calf raises

Target your calves with this simple gym gem. The standing calf raise is an isolation work out, which means it solely works one muscle group. In this case, the calves. It’s simple, just plant your feet firmly on the ground and begin to raise your heals up as far as they can go. While you’re doing it hold onto your desk as you can lose your balance. Raise your calves up as far as they can go, squeeze, then lower them down.

You can even do this one sitting down at your desk. To get the most from doing it while sitting, ensure you squeeze your calves before you lower again.
Do this in three sets of 20 repetitions to really go after those calves.

Balance ball chair

Sure, this one isn’t strictly an office exercise. It is however, a great way to keep your core strong and improve your balance and posture. To further improve the argument for the balance ball, many from the medical community agree that using a balance ball can actually reduce back pain.

Beyond this, sitting on a balance ball has a great effect on one’s core and abdominals. If you want a stronger core and killer abs, I’d recommend looking further into purchasing a balance ball.

Photo: istolethetv, Flickr

Photo: istolethetv, Flickr

Crush gripper tool

Do you want to be known as the person with the strong handshake in your office? Perhaps even garnering a hurricane-esc nickname, all the while, your hands, forearms and triceps are getting a work out? Well, the crush gripper tool could be for you.

As it fits neatly inside a backpack, handbag or satchel, the gripper tool can be easily taken to and from the office. This office exercise is a fairly basic one, but it has the ability to really strengthen.

In Summary

What does health bring to you? Being healthy makes you happy, makes you more immune to infection and illness and improved learning and memory. So there’s no reason you should miss out on all of these benefits because you work in an office.

If you have a busy schedule and can’t fit these into your day, no need to worry. Maybe just take the stairs instead of the elevator and bring a homemade lunch featuring all of the best food groups. Here are some other tips on how you can encourage better employee health at the workplace.

Just remember that there is more to health than just working out.

Lauren Clarke

Lauren Clarke

Lauren writes for 6Q and a number of other blogs from her home office in Australia. She spends her time writing, reading and changing US to International English on many articles that she edits.