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29 Exercises You Can Do At (Or Near) Your Desk

29 Exercises You Can Do At (Or Near) Your Desk

Putting in a full day at the office can make it hard to find the time to exercise. But most of us have a bit of a lag between tasks as we sit in front of our computers, and we can take advantage of a few minutes here and a few minutes there to get some physical activity in. You won’t get an extensive workout this way, but you can get enough exercise that missing a day or two of a more strenuous activity won’t make a difference. You can also avoid some of the ills that come from sitting at a desk for too long: sore wrists, stiffness, even repetitive motion injuries.

No one wants to do a mile run or anything else that will get their work clothes sweaty, but these simple exercises can keep your clothes neat and still get your heart rate up.

Feet and Legs

  1. Hip flexions. While sitting in your chair, lift your right foot a few inches off of the floor. Keep your knee bent at a 90 degree angle and hold the position as long as you are comfortable.
    • Leg extensions. While sitting in your chair, extend your right leg until it is level with your hip. Hold as long as you are comfortable and then relax it. Alternate sides.
    • Plié squats. Point your toes outwards and take a wide stance. Slowly bend your knees in the direction of your toes. Once you can no longer see your toes, slowly stand up. While plié squats are more graceful than regular squats, give them a pass if your work attire includes a skirt.
      • Toe raises. Lift your toes while keeping your heels firmly on the ground. While you can do this exercise standing, it works very well while seated.
      • Football foot drill. At practice, football players practice rapidly tapping their feet in place, simulating a run. Do the same thing while seated, for 30 seconds at a go.
        • Lunge. While walking, take the widest step you can and lunge forward.
        • Calf raises. Stand in front of a desk or other piece of furniture you can hold on to for balance. Raise your heels of the floor and slowly lower them.
          • Take the stairs. If you need a harder workout, try taking them two at a time — you’ll get a chance to stretch your legs more than you would otherwise.
          • Walk the hallway. Walk down the hallway as fast as you can without actually running.

          Hands and Arms

          1. Tricep dips. Put your arms behind your back, resting on your chair and slowly raise and lower your self.
            • Shoulder raises. Raise your shoulder to your ear, hold and then relax. Repeat, alternating shoulders.
            • Wrist stretch. Stretch your arm out in front of you with the palm up. With your other hand, grab your fingers and lightly pull them down to stretch your forearm.
            • Hand stretches. Tense and relax the muscles in your hands. Make fists, spread your fingers and bend your fingers.
            • Flapping wings. Stretch both of your arms up and back, as far as you can. Bring them forward until they meet and stretch your arms out in front of you. Repeat.
              • Water bottle weights. Use a full water bottle as weight to increase the difficulty of your work out. You can do front raises, overhead presses and bicep curls with a water bottle.
              • Shadow box. Stand up and take a couple of jabs at the air.
                • Arm pump. Pump both of your arms over your head for 30 seconds.
                • Elevated pushups. Lean on a sturdy piece of furniture and slowly push your body off of it in a sort of standing push up.

                Torso

                • Abdominal stretch. Sit on the edge of your chair and stretch your arms out. While keeping your back straight, contract your abdominal muscles. Relax and repeat.
                  • Neck rotations. Drop your chin and roll your neck. Raise your chin up and bend your neck to each side.
                  • Back twist. Sit up straight in your chair and place your right arm behind your right hip. Twist to the right and hold. Alternate sides.
                  • Wall sits. Rest your back against a wall and move your feet away from the wall. The wall should be supporting the weight of your back and your knees should be bent. Hold the position as long as possible.
                    • Glute squeeze. Tense up the muscles of your rear end and hold for a count of 10.
                    • Curls. Cross your arms over your chest and sit up straight. Tense your abdominal muscles and curl your shoulders towards your hips. Hold for a few seconds.

                    Full Body

                    • Chair dips. Place the palms of your hands on your chair and your feet on the floor. Move your rear end off of the edge of your seat. Bend your elbows and lower your body. Straighten your arms to return to the starting position.
                    • Chair squats. Lift your rear end off of your seat and hold for a few seconds.
                      • Low-impact jumping jacks. Raise your right arm and tap your left toe to the side at the same time. Keep your right foot on the floor. Alternate sides for a full minute.
                        • Pretend jump rope. Hop either on both feet at once or alternating feet.
                        • Pretend jump rope, version 2. Move your arms as if you are turning a jump rope while tapping one foot in front of you. Alternate feet.

                          More by this author

                          Samantha Aloysius

                          Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology and has experience in diabetes care counselling.

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                          Published on July 15, 2019

                          10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

                          10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

                          Habits are an important part of the direction you take your life, and — as I’ll share with you shortly — there are certain daily habits you can adopt right away that are guaranteed to improve your life.

                          Think back to when you were just six or seven years old…

                          At that age you probably didn’t have many habits. But, as the years went by, you picked up more and more good and bad habits.

                          You may not have thought about it before, but habit forming never really stops.

                          That’s why it’s never too late to change your habits and transform your life.

                          So, if you feel burdened by your bad habits, start kicking them into shape by replacing them with these 10 positive, life-changing strategies:

                          1. Go to Bed a Little Earlier and Wake up Earlier 

                          Starting tonight, get yourself to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. And, then make sure you get up tomorrow morning 30 minutes earlier, too. This small change can have a BIG impact on your day. 

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                          Instead of furiously rushing in the morning to get ready for work, the extra time will give you a golden opportunity to start your day off on the right note. You can drink a smoothie while sitting on your porch, spend 10 minutes exercising and stretching, and still have time to read a few pages of an inspiring book.

                          2. Be Grateful for the Good Things in Your Life 

                          Setbacks and obstacles are inevitable in life. But, with a positive mindset, you’ll be able to overcome most of these. And, when you do, you’ll boost your self-confidence. 

                          This is something you can definitely be grateful for. 

                          However, if worst-case scenarios are playing out in your life, then sometimes, to stay strong, you’ll need to keep your mind on the good things that are happening to you. For example, your relationship with your partner might be crumbling, but your career is continuously getting stronger. It’d be easy to feel downtrodden and miserable about your relationship problems —  but, it would be much healthier to keep your mind and gratitude on these things that are going well, such as your career.

                          3. Drink Water All Day Every Day 

                          I’m sure you’ve heard the advice of drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, but are you following that advice? If not, you’re robbing your body and mind of essential hydration. 

                          With the right amount of water intake a day, you’ll be amazed how good you feel — and how good you look!

                          4. Take 15 Minutes to Set Goals for the Day, and Then Tackle Them One by One 

                          This strategy will put your life into a new stratosphere! And, it’s very simple to do. 

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                          Simply spend 15 minutes in the morning (either at home or at work) planning what you need and want to achieve during the rest of the day. Once you’ve listed your tasks, the next step is to put them into order of priority. 

                          For instance, you have three things to do: catch up with your emails, write a project update, and prepare a briefing for your CEO. It’s best if you put these in order of importance. In this example, your emails can probably wait until you’ve created your CEO brief and updated your project documentation.

                          5. Turn Off Your Cell Phone (or Put it on Airplane Mode) When You’re Focusing 

                          A 2012 study found that even looking at a cell phone or feeling it vibrate in your pocket can significantly distract focus and reduce your ability to complete complex tasks.[1]

                          It’s no surprise really, as our thoughts are subconsciously drawn towards checking our phones when they’re switched on. It’s a bad habit — but one that most of us have. However, when you need 100% focus (like I do when writing my articles), then switching your phone off, or at least putting it into airplane mode, will free your mind and supercharge your focus. Try it and see!

                          6. Walk as Much as You Can 

                          Have you noticed that most people’s lives are sedentary? They drive to work, sit in front of a screen all day, then drive home and binge on the latest Netflix series. It’s no wonder there’s a growing epidemic of obesity and mental health issues. 

                          Our bodies are made to move — so we should move them! This can be as simple as walking up the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator, and going out for a walk around the block at lunchtime. In the evening, instead of arriving home and crashing on the sofa; spend 20 to 30 minutes walking around your block.

                          When you make these things a habit, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel. You’ll have less stress — and more energy.

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                          7. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

                          How often do you stop, think and appreciate the “here and now”? I’m guessing not very often. But, I understand why. Modern life is demanding and fast-paced. There’s precious little time to appreciate the small things. 

                          But, if you want to live a healthy and happy life, you must break out of this trap. You can do this by allocating 15 to 30 minutes each day for mindful meditation. This could be in a park, in your garden, or even in your lounge. The trick is to focus 100% on your surroundings. 

                          For example, if you’re outside, watch how the leaves on the trees blow around in the wind. By keeping your focus on this movement, you’ll clear your mind from your usual stresses and strains. This will give you brain a much-needed break. And, as well as improving your mental health; you’ll find your creativity gets a boost, too.

                          8. Ask for Help When You Need It 

                          No one can know or do everything. Which is why you shouldn’t be embarrassed to delegate tasks to others when needed, ask questions when you don’t have the answers, and work with partners and colleagues to clarify intentions. 

                          When I first set up Lifehack, I tried to do everything myself: blog writing, website creation, marketing, financial planning, etc. However, I quickly learned that it was much better to hire some help. Not only did this inject some fresh ideas and inspiration into Lifehack — it also made the whole operation way more enjoyable!

                          9. Practice Self Care 

                          Are you looking after yourself as well as you should? If not, then take steps to improve your diet, exercise more, and to speak to yourself with encouraging words and thoughts. 

                          The latter suggestion is often overlooked. But how you speak to yourself determines how you feel, what you believe, and what you achieve.

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                          10. Embrace Learning 

                          You cannot transform your life without learning something new. That’s because the process of change forces you to adapt. But, many people stop learning as they get older, as they find the learning process boring and bothersome. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be fun and rewarding. 

                          Whether you decide to learn to play guitar or study the basics of accounting — embrace learning, and begin changing your world for the better.

                          I’m sure you’ll agree that these 10 strategies are simple enough for you to start putting them into action in your life. (I suggest you begin today!) 

                          Nevertheless, you’ll probably need to use some extra willpower for the first 30 days or so, as this is the typical length of time it takes to create a new habit. After that, these strategies will be part of your day-to-day life, and you won’t need to think about having to do them. In other words, they’ll have become habitual actions.

                          If you need any further encouragement to get started with the 10 strategies, then consider this:

                          Even just adopting one of the strategies can turn the tide in your favor. But, when you implement all 10, you’ll create an unstoppable trend towards success, health and happiness.

                          So start making your life better — today!

                          Featured photo credit: Javier Garcia via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Deborah R. Tindell and Robert W. Bohlander, Wilkes University: The Use and Abuse of Cell Phones and Text Messaging in the Classroom: A Survey of College Students

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