8 Easy Exercises To Help You Stay Fit At Your Desk

Yaara Lancet 14-10-2013

How many hours a day do you spend sitting? Whether you’re gaming, freelancing or have a hardcore desk-bound job, you’re probably not moving enough 4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long (And How to Avoid Them) Sitting too long at your desk or on your couch is a modern epidemic. Here are four deadly risks to a sedentary lifestyle. Read More .


Not everyone has the time or ability to leave everything for 2 hours and go for a run or a bike ride, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Staying fit at your desk is actually possible. Below you’ll find a collection of exercises anyone can do. Some don’t even require getting up, others take no longer than 10 minutes out of your daily routine.

Find some you can do. Find some you want to do. Don’t let your lifestyle be the boss!

Tap Your Feet

This is an exercise you can do without getting up, even while you’re working. Place your feet on the floor and start tapping them quickly, as if you’re running on the spot. You can start relatively slowly, and increase your speed as you go. You’d be surprised how quickly this little exercise will increase your heart rate. You may also feel your leg muscles, and you’ll definitely get your blood circulating better.

The only downside to this simple exercise is the noise it makes. Unless you work on a carpeted floor, your feet are going to create a good amount of noise, and co-workers sitting next to you may not appreciate it. One way to solve this is to get all your co-workers on board too. This way, you’re all tap-tapping at the same time, no one gets annoyed, and everyone gets to move a bit.

The Praying Position



Image via Yan Trokel [Broken Link Removed]

This is a great arm exercise you can do from anywhere. Yes, even during that long and boring office meeting you have to sit through. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor, and bring the palms of your hands together in front of your chest, as if you’re praying for something (like the meeting to be over). Now push your hands together as hard as you can. You’re going to feel the muscles in your arms working. Hold this for 10-20 seconds (or more if it feels easy), and release. Repeat the sequence several times.

A variety of this exercise is to hold your hands together tightly and try to pull them apart instead of pushing them together.

Shoulder Stretching

Are you hunched in front of your computer all day? Here’s a way to stretch your shoulders a little bit. Raise your shoulders upwards as if you’re shrugging and hold them there for a few seconds. Release, and repeat at least 15 times. Another good shoulder exercise is to roll back your shoulders until your shoulder blades are almost touching. Hold for several seconds, release, and repeat. I’ve read in several places that you can try to hold a pen between your shoulder blades as you do this, but I couldn’t do it to save my life.


Elbow To Knee

This exercise uses your hands as well, so you can’t do it while working or typing, but once you get used to it, you can definitely do it while reading from your screen. Sit up straight in your chair and place your hands on the sides of your head. The point of the exercise is to bring each elbow towards the opposite knee, working on your abdominal muscles. Start by twisting your body to the right, lifting your right leg and bringing your left elbow towards your knee. Hold this position for a second, and go back to sitting upright. Now do the same thing with the right elbow and left knee. Do this over and over again.

As long as you don’t have evil co-workers who’ll laugh at you (what they should be is jealous!), this is a great exercise for the office, as it doesn’t make any noise and doesn’t include very big movements.

The Wall Sit


Image via


This one does require that you leave your chair, but we all do that every once in a while. This will be perfect if there’s a wall behind your desk. If not, you can find a different wall to lean on for a few minutes. Once you find a wall, pretend you’re sitting on a chair while leaning your back on the wall. Your feet should be placed away from the wall, your knees should be bent as if you’re sitting, and your buttocks should be in the air. Keep this up as long as you can. You can distract yourself by reading an important report or article while you “sit” there.

Hip Flexion

This is another perfect exercise you can do while you work, as it keeps your hands completely free. Sit straight in your chair, and keep your knees at a 90 degree angle. Now raise one foot off the floor and hold it in that position as long as you comfortably can (don’t kill yourself; you need to keep working while doing this!). Put your foot down and raise the other foot in the same way. After several repeats, you’ll definitely feel your hip muscles. Do this every day, and you’ll be strengthening your legs without leaving your desk.

If you’re looking for the perfect exercise for grouchy co-workers, this is it. It’s quite, it’s discreet, and there’s nothing in it that can disturb anyone.


If you find the above exercises too distracting or embarrassing, there’s something else you can do that’s almost invisible to anyone but you. Choose a muscle you want to work on (for example, your abdomen or your buttocks), squeeze it as hard as you can for 10-15 seconds, and release. Repeat this until you’ve had enough or set a number of repeats you want to do and do them.


This may seem like a worthless exercise, but believe me, it’s not. Try it.

The 7 Minute Workout [No Longer Available]

Do you work from home? If so, why not take a mere 7 minutes out of your day to exercise? The 7-minute workout page will take you through 12 sets of 30 seconds each, with 10-second stops for rest after each one. Each set is comprised of a different exercise, such as jumping jacks, abdominal crunches, step-ups on a chair, and more.


The website is very visual, with huge countdowns and illustrations of the exercise. It will take you through the routine by hand, and after only 7 minutes, you’ll know you’ve done something good for your body that day.

Other Ways To Stay Fit

The exercises above are a whole lot better than doing nothing, but there are other things you can do to keep healthy and fit. Take the stairs when you can, walk or bike to work if possible, drink plenty of water, and don’t be tempted by all the snacks in the kitchen. If you control your working environment, you may want to consider a standing desk 6 Great Standing Desk Designs: Your Backbone Will Thank You! Sitting can kill you or at least cause serious health issues. Unfortunately, many jobs require us to sit at our desks for many hours a day. Read More .

If you’re the more visual type, you should check out these desk exercise videos 6 Must-See Exercise Videos for Those of Us Who Spend Most of the Day Sitting [Stuff to Watch] Poor posture, not enough breaks and sedentary office behaviour can all have serious implications in the long-term. This week’s Stuff to Watch focuses on a variety of techniques that can reduced the chances of an... Read More . If these don’t get you moving, nothing will.

What do you do to keep yourself from going stale at your desk? Have any tips to share?

Related topics: Ergonomics, Health.

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  1. Esteri
    December 17, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    GREAT article with so many practical tips and links. THANK YOU!

  2. Ronik S
    November 9, 2013 at 8:55 am

    good article for lazy peoples . As many of the people are always couch potatoes they really need to read this article . I had shared this link with many of my friends and the y too like it . Thank you very much for this article .

  3. Tenyo M
    October 30, 2013 at 11:04 am


  4. Awarul Islam
    October 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Coxsbazar Airport

  5. Amanda T
    October 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I walk 5 km every day at morning, but almost all day sitting at my PC. thanks for exercises!

  6. Jo-anne P
    October 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    What a great idea thank you for the input, it may not be jogging around the block but it will do for me thanks

  7. Joyce
    October 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Thank You, Thank You

  8. Ralph
    October 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm


  9. Julia Hodgson
    October 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I do spend quite sometime at the computer and do try to take breaks and do some exercises but you offer is much better than what I have been doing. Thanks. I very rarely comment but I find quite a number of the material you send very helpful, particularly the three lessons about using the iPhone. incidentally, this has been upgrades so will we get any further enlightenment? Thanks again- Julia Hodgson

    • Yaara L
      October 16, 2013 at 6:57 am

      Hi Julia, I'm not sure which post about the iPhone you're referring to, exactly. There are many different authors here at MakeUseOf, and I don't even own an iPhone. :)

      The best way to ask the author of that article a question is to comment on the article itself.

      Glad you enjoyed this one too!

  10. John
    October 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Having discovered that some of my colleagues print my emails I now print them myself and walk them over there. I specially like the ones furthest away.
    Also, speed walking through the building with a piece of paper makes you look very important. If stopped by management or security tell them it is too confidential for email ....

    • Yaara L
      October 16, 2013 at 6:55 am

      This made me laugh. :)) Too bad I work from home, I would love to start speed walking with pieces of paper too!

  11. dragonmouth
    October 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Be careful with the Wall Sits. They look deceptively easy to do but can cause a lot of pain for those with weak quads (that means most of us). Unless you are a dedicated bicycle rider, skier or a runner, start with a couple of minutes at a time. For some of us even 2 or 3 minutes may result in stiff and achy quads the next day.

    • Yaara L
      October 16, 2013 at 6:55 am

      Thanks for the tip, dragonmouth. It is quite hard to do for longer periods.

    • Aaron C
      October 20, 2013 at 1:18 am

      As with any exercise, you start small and work your way up. You don't attempt to run a marathon the first day you decided to start a running regimen, nor do you try to do the splits the first day of yoga. Wall sits are no different.

    • dragonmouth
      October 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      After 40 years in competitve sports, I am quite aware of that. The stresses placed on the legs, especially the quads, during a wall sit are similar to doing squats in weightlifting and holding the squat position for a period of time.

  12. Lloyd
    October 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I want to swap my current dumbbells for that one in the image. Pertier.

  13. Ionut
    October 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    good advices, thanks a lot.

  14. Amir M
    October 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Hi, i would like to thank Yaara on this article it is awesome, i work at a desk 8 h, and do practice these kind of exercises during my work time, they helped me overcome a bit of pain i felt on my right shoulder. I would recommend these exercises to everyone who uses a computer.

  15. Aibek E
    October 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    I second 7 min workout! Been doing it for the last few weeks and feel a lot more energetic during the day and overall more productive.

  16. Joel L
    October 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Anything that gets you moving or stimulates your muscles is great, especially when your day job requires you to sit for hours on end. I'm going to be using the Praying Position a lot starting today. Thanks!