How to Get a Discreet, 5 Minute Desk Workout

desk exercises

Keeping a balanced healthy life is tough when you are glued to your desk eight hours of the day, but there are inconspicuous ways to exercise at the office and keep your body happy and healthy.

It is all too easy to get lost in work, sitting for hours on end ignoring your bodies cries for attention. To prevent stiffness, poor posture, and back ache from sitting too long you don’t have to get those office clothes sweaty, there are subtle exercises you can do that take just a few minutes here and there. Research suggests that thirty minutes of cardio five times a week might not be enough to undo the harm of a sedentary lifestyle. It is important to break up some of your eight hour day at the desk.

Also read: Optimize Your Desk Space to Supercharge Your Time at Work

Try these quick, effective workouts you can do at your desk that no one will notice:

  1. Neck rotations. Drop your chin and roll your neck. Then lift your chin up and bend your neck over to each side.
  2. Back twist. Sit up straight, right arm behind your right hip. Twist to the right and hold. Repeat on your left side.
  3. Shoulder pinch. Roll back your shoulders until your shoulder blades are pinched together, pretend you are holding a pencil between your scapulas, hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat.
  4. Shoulder shrug. Raise both shoulders up to your ears and hold for 5 seconds and release. Hold a heavy book in each hand to make harder.
  5. Gluteal squeezes. Squeeze your buttocks for 5-10 seconds, and repeat.
  6. Leg extensions. While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for 5-10 seconds, then lower without touching the ground and repeat. Add weight over your ankles to make it tougher.
  7. Inner thigh squeezes. Place a thick book between your knees and press your legs inwards while seated, squeezing your inner thighs for 30-60 seconds.
  8. Toe raises. While seated or standing, keep your heels on the ground and lift your toes.
  9. Hip flexions. Lift a foot a few inches, keep your knee bent at 90 degrees and hold for as long as you can while sitting.
  10. Standing calf raises. Hold onto the back of your chair and stand up onto your toes, hold for 10 seconds and repeat.
Also read: 5 Ways to Find Time in Your Day for Exercise

Have a spare 5 minutes (and a bit more privacy?) Try these 5 desk exercises:

  1. Chair squat. Stand 6 inches in front of your chair, stretch your arms out in front of you and squat until your butt touches the edge of the chair.
  2. Desk push up. Place your palms down on your desk, stretch your body out to a 45 degree angle, feet together and push up. Repeat.
  3. Tricep desk dips. Face away from your desk, place your hands either side of you on your desk, step away from the desk, feet firmly planted, bend and straighten arms at 90 degrees. Repeat.
  4. Wall sits. Stand against the wall, squat to 90 degree angle, slide back up and repeat.
  5. Chair push up. While seated stretch out your legs and cross them. Then raise yourself up out of your chair by lifting up off the armrests, float for 10-20 seconds.

Standing is markedly better for your health than sitting, you can sneak in exercise around the office and get the blood flowing by simply standing more. Even holding standing meetings can help. Pace around the office while you talk on the phone. Take the stairs. Have a quick jog on the spot for 60 seconds after a long stint at the desk.

Another way to get an office work out is by using equipment like the mini cycle exerciser. You can cycle while you type, it is discreet (fits under your desk) and it will get your circulation going. Or go all out with a pedal laptop desk (maybe an idea for the home office)? Another alternative to your office chair is an exercise ball. It increases balance and strengthens core muscles in your back and stomach through ‘active sitting’ – reducing back pain and improving posture. Make sure you buy the right exercise ball for your weight and height.If you do sit all day at the desk don’t slouch, siting up straight will strengthen your core muscles. Do remember to keep your body happy and healthy whilst you work, you will thank yourself later.

About the Author

Tatiana Compton is a freelance journalist who has covered accountancy and finance in both the UK and US.