Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk

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Unfortunately, not every office can afford walking desks for their employees, so the majority of us have to look for easy (and cheap) exercises to do at work. Have you ever rushed into work, and before you know it it’s after 5 p.m., and you realize you haven’t made any significant movement all day from your chair? Well, as luck would have it, there are some ways to increase your physical activity while continuing to stay as productive as possible.

Studies have shown that sitting for hours on end is scientifically bad for our health. Ready for this scary tidbit of information? According to TIME, one study even showed that sitting can increase your risk of certain types of cancer by 60 percent. Terrifying! So, the chair you’ve officially left your butt imprinted on today? It can actually be thought of as one of your worst enemies if not used correctly.

Of course, if it’s possible, we should all practice removing ourselves from our desk for a quick 15 to 20 minute walk. It’s helpful for not only our health, but for clearing our brains and making us more productive once we return to our desk. You’ll also experience that amazing release of endorphins that can give your brain a major boost of positivity to get you sailing through the rest of the day. Realizing this isn’t always possible to leave our desk — especially on those incredibly busy days — it can be equally beneficial to a few exercises right at your desk as you’re working.

Here are nine exercises that can be done right at your desk — and are super simple to do.

1. Core Training On A Stability Ball

You’ve probably heard this one a time or two, but using a stability ball instead of a chair at your desk works as an exercise all its own. Given your body is forced to balance on it — versus the full support a traditional chair provides — it’s keeping the muscles in your core constricting throughout the day. (As a side note, if you plan on using a stability ball be sure to sit up straight, rest your arms sturdy and flat on your desk, and keep your feet planted flatly on the floor. These things are very important in preventing bad posture.)

2. Encyclopedia Lifts

According to TIME, a solid exercise for your triceps is as easy as lifting a heavy book over and above your head. It doesn’t have to necessarily be an Encyclopedia, of course — just grab the heaviest book you have access to, and get to lifting. Extend it over your head, drop it back down to your neck/shoulders, and then lift it back up. Do this 15 times, rest, and repeat.

3. Desk Push Ups

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Desk push ups are easy and a good way to tone up, according to WebMD. Stand up at your desk and grip onto the edge. Walk yourself backwards until you’re in a good position for a pushup. Do 20 push ups, rest, and repeat two more times.

4. The “Wooden Leg”

According to Jason Queiros, a chiropractor at Stamford Sports & Spine, an effective desk exercise is the “Wooden Leg.” To do it, sit in your chair with one leg extended out. Hold it out for two seconds, and then raise it up until you can’t go anymore. Hold for two seconds at the high point, and bring it back down to the original extended position. Repeat with the other leg. Try the “Wooden Log” 15 times on each side.

5. Wall Sits

You might recognize these bad boys from the gym, but you can certainly do them easily at work as well. According to, wall sits are a great butt-building exercise. Stand up straight with your back against your cubicle wall. Then, slide your body down the wall until your legs have reached a 90-degree angle, and hold for as long as you can. Return your body to an upright position and repeat.

6. Chair Squats

Decided the stability ball as a chair just wasn’t your thing? That’s totally fine, because here’s an exercise that you’ll actually want to use that chair for. Stand up straight about six inches in front of your chair with your arms out directly in front of you. Bend your knees into a squat position until your butt hits the edge of the chair. Then, stand back up and repeat 20 times.

7. Jump Rope Simulation

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This might not be the most practical for those who embarrass easily, but it’s definitely effective, according to WebMD. Stand beside your desk and simulate jumping rope for 60 seconds. Take a short break, and repeat. Be sure to take those heels off beforehand though — ouch!

8. Desk Push & Pulls

Thinking those biceps could use a little beefing up? Here is a simple way to attack those muscles at your desk. Sitting on a chair, pull yourself into the desk closely, and grip onto the front of your desk. Lift your feet and slowly push your body away using only your arms. Keep pushing until your head is down between your arms. Then pull yourself back in — again only using your arms — and repeat.

9. In-Person Emails & Calls

This isn’t necessarily an at-your-desk move, but something I felt was worth mentioning. Nearly all of the jobs I’ve had in the past have been extremely fast-paced, and I often found it incredibly difficult to leave my cube unless I was running to a meeting. To increase my inactivity while still being productive, I stopped emailing and calling coworkers who nearby (unless it was an issue needing a paper trail), and instead would walk to their desks to discuss things in person. It’s really a good way to get yourself up and moving, even if only for short spurts of time.

If it seems like your days at work are constantly filled with dire tasks that don’t allow you to leave your desk, now there is simply no reason to miss out on staying active. Even incorporating a couple of these exercises at your desk each day can make a difference — so, let’s get goin’ girl!