Desk Exercises: 10 Simple Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk

This motto is for fitness enthusiasts as much as it is for non-quitters. In the midst of your busy schedule, you strive to be both. You want to keep moving even if you’re stuck at your desk for long stretches.

If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, there are quick and easy exercises you can try in between tasks. Consider it a break. You can do aerobics, stretching, or just walking. Here are 10 exercises you can try at your desk (and near or away from it) right now.

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10 Smart Ways to Exercise at Your Desk

1. Football Foot Drill

This simple exercise can speed up your heart rate. Start small with some foot taps. You can try this “invisible” footwork if you want to move without ending up sweaty.

  • While sitting in your desk chair, put your feet flat on the ground. 
  • Tap your feet alternately for 30 seconds. 
  • Repeat every 30 minutes or so, choosing an interval that fits your work routine.

To engage your knees, you can also raise them a little higher while you tap your feet. This drill is similar to when you’re running in place. You can also check out some video clips of soccer players doing toe taps. These modifications are more visible than the subtle foot tap. But they can bring about the same benefit to your body.

Get inspired by this kid doing the football foot drill in this video:

2. Walking

When you’re taking a break, step away from your desk for a while. You can go out for a walk around the office block. You can squeeze in an errand instead of doing it after work. If you’re up for it, you can entertain yourself while making your way down the sidewalk, Monty Python style. Remember the “Ministry of Silly Walks” sketch? I’m glad WebMD reminded me about this gem.

If you don’t have the luxury to muck about, you can choose to walk all the way to your teammate’s desk instead of chatting with them on Slack or sending an email. You can even walk around the room if your work environment allows it. Take every opportunity to walk. This commonplace exercise can break the monotony of burying your head in your laptop.

This act alone can help improve your balance, coordination, and mood. It can make your bones and muscles strong. And do not forget how it can lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.

3. Take the Stairs

Provided that your office is not on the 41st floor, why not take the stairs next time you’re headed downstairs? This moderate workout can disrupt your sedentary lifestyle – and reasonably so. If you’ve been sitting for hours on end, you need to stop hunching over your computer.

Among the different ways to pull yourself away from your desk, going for the stairs is one of the more challenging ones. It takes commitment to take flights of steps. It will stretch your legs. It will even make you sweat. But there’s no turning back. Once you’re there, going back up can still get you pretty warmed up.

If you can’t take on a weekly gym appointment, you can just up the ante and try two steps at a time. But make sure you’re safe to make this daily trip of the stairs. You can skip this if you’re suffering from dizziness, vertigo, or any related condition.

4. Low Lunge

You’re familiar with lunges, right? This pose can make it look like you’re poised to attack someone. Here’s an example:

Now, here is a low lunge:

This posture may look familiar to you if you are a yoga practitioner. Basically, you start with a lunge and then stretch one leg toward the back of the room. You can alternate your left leg and your right leg here.

It may not be too hidden if you do this beside your desk, though. So if you have a conference room, you can strike a pose there. You also want to have adequate space for stretching your legs.

If your workplace has limited space, then you can attempt this at your desk. You can inform your boss and teammates about what you’re about to do. This way, you can at least warn those who are planning to work across the room to avoid you. This workout can strengthen your knee muscles.

5. Glute Squeeze

Now we’re moving up and including more body parts as we progress. Aside from your legs, your glutes will gain some toning and strengthening with the glute squeeze.

The most straightforward technique is as follows:

  • Tense up your bum muscles at 10 counts. 
  • Pause and relax your muscles. 
  • Then, let them contract again for another 10 counts. 
  • Repeat the drill for 15 minutes.

Of course, there are several other ways to accomplish this. You can also do this standing up for as long as you won’t feel awkward. If you can lie down, push your hips and glutes up and ensure you’re carrying your weight in your heels.

Do any of these variations to avoid feeling pain in your gluteal area as well. You may be wondering if you’re doing it right. So for reference, liken it to squeezing your butt cheeks.

6. Water Bottle Weights

Bottled water is not only for staying hydrated while you beat deadlines. It can also substitute as weights when you’re in the confines of your desk. Keep two bottles at room temperature for easier handling. Start with the heaviest you can lift. You can then do bicep curls, front raises, and overhead presses with your makeshift weights.

You can increase the weight of the water bottles if you want some challenge to your routine. You can also invite your work pals to join you. It should be fun doing it with them. It can also be a form of socialization and bonding.

Some people may suggest you try lifting a gallon size. But this may prove to be too much if you’re doing it at the pantry, the conference room, or the common area. You don’t want to get injured or be too sweaty before a meeting.

7. Desk Push-Up

Do you have a sturdy desk in the office? Then it’s time to strengthen your upper body with this simple yet smart workout.

  • Stand facing your desk and put your hands near the edge. 
  • Make sure to hide your wrists. 
  • Then, create a distance between your lower body and the desk. 
  • Squeeze your glutes tight and keep your body straight.
  • Once you achieve the correct form, begin pushing up against your desk. 
  • Repeat 15 times, and you’re done. 

Quick and easy. You don’t even have to leave the perimeter of your workstation. Of course, proceed only if you have enough space to extend your body. You can also establish this routine, so other employees get used to it over time.

You can even set an example to the entire office because the desk push-up is perfect for taking breaks on a busy workday.

8. Chair Dips

Now comes my favorite. I like this exercise because it involves my topic of expertise: the desk chair. When performing this routine, you should pick a chair that will stay in place. Either it has wheels that can be locked, or it does not have wheels at all.

  • To get into proper form, place your hands on either side right beside the hips. 
  • Then, extend your legs in front of you. Your fingers should be gripping the edge of your stool. 
  • When you’re ready, raise your body with your arms and core. 
  • Then lower your body until your buttocks touch the floor. 
  • Lift again, then dip. Repeat the same steps 15 times.

If you’re feeling energized, you can increase the 15-dip cycle from one to three. Notice how this is the opposite of doing push-ups. Chair dips can help strengthen your arms and core while also working your lower body.

9. Bharadvajasana II

You may have observed that we have now reached full-body routines. So I think it is safe to introduce to you a yoga pose or asana, which can boost your awareness and help you practice mindfulness. The twist can also benefit your physical health as it can improve flexibility, strengthen spinal muscles, and tone your core.

Instead of laying down to you the steps one-by-one, I will ask you to watch this video. Take note of how to enter and exit the pose. Do not think about the looming deadline or what your boss told you earlier. 

As you will be sitting on the floor, find a clean area to do this. A word of warning: this can put a strain on your body, especially if not done right. Skip it if you are tired or in a hurry. This is also not recommended for those who have a spine, hip, or knee issues.

10. Low-Impact Jumping Jacks

Nothing wakes up and energizes your body like good old jumping jacks. Teachers asked this of us all the time when they felt we were about to doze off. So, why isn’t this exercise practiced in the workplace? Maybe because it would look weird, and you might feel embarrassed?

Well, here’s a low-impact version to tone things down. Instead of jumping on both sides, activating your whole body in one go, just focus on one side first. But remember that jumping jacks are about engaging the opposite side of the upper limb and the lower limb.

  • Raise your right arm while tapping your left foot simultaneously. 
  • Then, switch to lifting your left arm while tapping your right foot. 
  • Keep alternating for one minute. 

It’s super fun and fast. Again, if you don’t want to be awkward alone, then let your teammates join you.

5 Benefits of Simple Exercises

Something as a pose you hold for 10 seconds, other than sitting, can count as moving. The exercises shared above require you to hold a pose for more than 10 seconds. They get you activated from the feet up. With this amount of workout, what do you stand to gain? Here are a few things:

Strengthening Bones and Muscles

As you age, you can experience muscle loss. With proper exercise and nutrition, you can reduce the rate of this phenomenon. Working out has been known to enhance your body’s muscle-building capabilities, after all.

Other exercises can also help improve bone health. They can counter the weakening effects of aging, so you can remain strong even after reaching your golden years. Imagine if you can still walk like a dog at 60, 70, or even 80!

Boosting Brain Health and Memory

Next time you try working out at work, think about how it is helping you improve your brain’s performance. You can stay sharp and focused, without missing a beat, as a result of your regular exercise at desk routine.

You can also be protected from some of the neurodegenerative diseases that come with old age. So, boost your chances by maintaining a regular workout, even without hitting the gym.

Increasing Your Energy Levels

Are you feeling lethargic? One way to get out of the rut is to move your feet, arms, or even just one leg at a time while sitting. This is referred to by experts as active sitting. By doing some of the exercises in this article, you can raise your energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue.

If you are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious diseases, working out regularly can also boost your energy. Why don’t you find this out for yourself?

Aiding Weight Loss

Exercise can contribute to the success of people who want to lose weight. This is because moving can increase your metabolic rate, which in turn can help burn more calories. This calorie-burning sequence is how you can lose weight fast. Of course, there are other factors to consider, like diet and lifestyle choices.

Another way exercise can help is by combining aerobic exercises with resistance training. This tandem is said to optimize fat loss and maintain muscle mass.

Improving Your Mood

Exercise has been recommended for those who are experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety, and stress. This is because it has a mood-enhancing effect by way of endorphin production. When we exercise, our body can release more endorphins, leading to those calm and happy feelings that we enjoy afterward.

If you regularly exercise and stop for a significant amount of time, you may notice an increase in feeling negative emotions.


There you have it. If you want to say goodbye to a sedentary life, take the small steps with these exercises. They’re smart yet simple. You can do them while you’re sitting in your office chair. You can even use your desk as a prop! Who would’ve thought tapping your foot can increase heart rate and would count as exercise?

While they last only for seconds, minutes, or cycles, these types of exercises have effects that can build up over time. It’s like investing in a top-class asset and then getting a return on investment over time. That said, you have to be consistent and committed to staying active when you’re in the workplace. If you can’t go to the gym, you might as well do it where you spend most of your time – sitting in your office desk chair.

The quick bursts and repetition can also be more sustainable than, say, promising to work out in a fitness venue thrice a week. It’s a good starting point for those who want to cultivate the habit. It can get addicting. But it’s the healthy kind, so why not try the suggestions above in the office? Note: You can also try these at home.

Enjoy the exercises, and keep moving.

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