What Exercises Can I Do While Sitting at My Desk?

Medically Reviewed on 7/15/2021
exercises to do at your desk
While you may not be able to leave work and go to the gym, you can incorporate these 12 desk exercises throughout the day

Many of us spend more than 8 or 9 hours a day sitting at our desks. Despite the fact that our bodies are designed to be moving, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle means that most of our time is spent sitting in front of a screen. And that can be detrimental to our eyes, joints, and overall health.

But while you may not be able to leave your workspace to squeeze in a trip to the gym, you can incorporate 5-10 minutes of desk exercises throughout the day to stimulate blood flow and get your energy up.

12 exercises to do at your desk

1. Work while moving

  • Walk around the office or in your office corridor while talking on the phone instead of sitting at your desk.
  • Stand instead of sitting during group meetings.
  • Replace your regular office chair with a resistance ball.
  • Create a standing workstation.
  • Set an alarm after every 30 or 40 minutes to remind you to spend 2-3 minutes doing stretches or other desk exercises. 
  • Use your lunch break to take a walk outside or perform a few exercises.

2. Triceps stretches

Raise your arm and bend it so that it reaches the opposite side. Raise your other arm and use it to pull your elbow toward the opposite side. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds. Repeat for the other arm.

3. Overhead reach or latissimus stretch

Extend an arm overhead while reaching to the opposite side. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat for the other arm.

4. Upper body and arm stretch

Raise your arms and clasp them together so that the palms are facing toward the ceiling. Push your arms up with the help of your shoulders and stretch. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds.

5. Shoulder shrug

Raise both shoulders swiftly toward your ears fast and then drop them down gently. You can repeat this about 10 to 15 times in a session.

6. Neck stretches

Keep your neck straight, then slowly tilt it forward while relaxing your chin on your collar bone for 10 seconds. Then tilt your head to one side and then the other side slowly while holding each position for 10 seconds. Come back to the starting position.

7. Desk push-ups

Use one edge of your desk to do push-ups. If you have your own office and enough space to do push-ups on the floor, that works too.

8. Chair triceps dips

Make use of your office chair to perform triceps dips. Just keep your hands on the chair behind you and perform the dips. Make sure your office chair is sturdy enough to hold your weight.

9. Walking lunges

Use the entire office space to do walking lunges, from one end of the room to the other.

10. Wall sits

If you have a small wall space in your office, lean on it and squat, making sure to keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for as long as you can. Get back to your starting position and repeat.

11. Eye exercises

Blinking produces tears to help moisten the eyes and prevent digital eye strain, which can occur after staring at computers or laptops for long hours.

After every 15 minutes, try looking away from your screen for at least 20 seconds. First, look up at the ceiling, then toward the left and right without moving your head. You just need to roll your eyes gently and slowly.

12. Breathing exercises

Deep breathing exercises are a great way to relieve stress. Take 3 deep breaths while taking in air fully into your abdomen, letting it rise and fall with each breath.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/15/2021
Gummelt D. How to Be More Active During Your Workday. American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/5324/how-to-be-more-active-during-your-workday/

Klika B. 5 Stretches to “Un-desk” Your Body. American Council on Exercise. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6554/5-stretches-to-un-desk-your-body/