10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk

Lauryn Page
Many of us lead a sedentary lifestyle. We sit at desks in cubicles and offices with limited options for effective exercising. Sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since 1950, and adult obesity in America has increased 69%. This stagnant existence has led to office fitness, commonly called "desk exercises." These are the ten best exercises to do at your desk.

Hand and Finger Stretches

The simplest desk exercises are hand and finger stretches. Typing for long periods of time is known to cause repetitive strain injuries and tendinitis. Hand and finger stretches increase range of motion and relieves stiff joints.

1. Make a fist and hold it for 30 - 60 seconds.
2. Open your palm and spread your fingers wide.
3. Complete at least 4 repetitions with each hand.

Neck Rotations

Sitting all day places stress on your neck and shoulders. Correct ergonomics at your workstation can reduce muscle tension, and neck stretches are another chair exercise that can help ease pain.

1. Lower your chin and roll your neck in a circle.
2. Lift your chin and bend on each side for 10 seconds.
3. Repeat as necessary throughout the day.

Abdominal Stretches

Usually the first place added weight appears is around the stomach. There are many abdominal stretches to choose from, but this one works your oblique muscles too.

1. Sit on the edge of a chair with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Place your hands behind your head and twist to the left, holding for at least one count.
3. Repeat the motion to the right and hold.
4. Perform 20 repetitions.

Hip Flexions

Extra pounds don’t stop at your waistline. They tend to travel farther down to the hips. Hip flexions are another office chair exercise that helps fight a sedentary lifestyle.

1. While sitting in a chair, raise one foot a few inches off the floor.
2. Keep your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and hold for at least 10 seconds.
3. Repeat with other side.

Leg Extensions

While you’re still sitting, transition to leg extensions as your next desk exercise. Doing leg extensions on an exercise machine with heavy weights can be harmful, but performing this exercise at your desk is easier for your knees.

1. Extend one leg until level with your hips.
2. Hold as long as possible and then relax.
3. Do each leg ten times. 

Toe Raises

Toe raises are a great office exercise for your shins. You can do this exercise sitting or standing, but make sure to hold on to something sturdy for balance. For a more strenuous office workout, use a resistance band.

1. Keep your heels on the ground, and lift up your toes and the balls of your feet.
2. Repeat as necessary.

Calf Raises

Calf raises are similar to toe raises but use a different part of the foot for an effective exercise at your desk.

1. Stand in front of a desk to hold on for balance.
2. Raise your heels off the floor and slowly lower back down.

Chair Squats

Squatting in front of a chair is a desk exercise that works multiple muscles.

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
2. Bend and lower your hips until your backside is a few inches from the seat.
3. Slowly stand up.

Shadow Boxing

Some office workouts are more fun than others. Tap in to your inner boxer and take a few jabs to the air for stress relief. You can use full water bottles to add resistance to your punch.

Elevated Push-ups

Traditional push-ups aren’t as easy to do in an office or cubicle, but changing your position creates an alternate desk exercise.

1. Lean on the wall or a sturdy section of the desk, supported by your arms and hands.
2. Slowly push away until completing a full push-up.
3. Repeat action for as many as you can do.