Woman in an office setting, sitting behind a desk, stretching her arms.

Simple Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk

Did you know that over 80% of the US workforce has jobs that require minimal physical activity? An average office worker can spend nearly 15 hours per day sitting down!

Long hours spent sitting can significantly affect your health and leads to stiff muscles, bad posture, and lower back pain.

Even if you spend extended periods stuck in your seat, there is no excuse for you not to do exercises to stretch and move your body. Here are movements you can do while sitting down without the need to get out of your seat.

Head Tilt

Release tension in the neck through this exercise.  It targets the muscle groups in the neck and shoulders. Breathe while doing this exercise. To do this, sit up straight. Tuck your chin in slightly. Slowly tip your head to the left while looking straight ahead. Maintain this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the center. Then, tip your head to the right slowly. Repeat three times on each side.

Head Turn

It is a side-to-side head rotations exercise that helps relieve the tightness in the sides and back of the neck.  It will also help promote the mobility of the neck.

To do this, sit up straight. Rotate your head slowly and look over your left shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds, you may use your hand to push your head further into the stretch. Turn your head back to the center, then turn to your right shoulder.  Repeat 3 -5 times on each side.

Seated Jumping Jacks

Strengthen your lungs & heart with this modified version of regular jumping jacks.

To do this, sit up straight on the edge of your chair with knees bent and together, toes on the floor, elbows bent and arms open to sides with palms facing forward. Open legs out to the side, extending arms overhead. Return to starting position and repeat for 12 times. Try to start slowly and then increase your speed until you can move your arms as fast as possible.

Sitting Arm Circles

Work on shoulders, increase flexibility, and improve posture with this gentle exercise.

To do this, raise your arms straight out to your sides and press your shoulder blades together. Extend arms with palms down, thumbs facing forward, and perform 20 forward circles with your arms. Then flip your palms up, your thumbs facing behind you, and do 20 backward circles with your arms. Repeat this for 2 to 3 times.

Sitting Elbow Curls

Exercise to open up chest and shoulder muscles.

To do this, raise your arms at your sides and bend your elbows. Place your knuckles up against your temples with your thumbs facing downward toward your shoulders. Bring your elbows together and then return to the starting position at moderate speed. You will experience a stretch in your arms and back. Repeat for 30 times, and always keep your back arched.

Seated Abdominal Twist

Strengthen your abdominal muscles while stabilizing your torso with this exercise. If your lower back and hips are in pain, this may be the solution.

To do this, sit up straight on the edge of your chair and put your crossed arms over your chest.  Inhale and squeeze (flex) your abdominal muscles lightly. Without relaxing your stomach muscles, exhale slowly, squeezing your abs in tighter, and turning your upper body to the right. Go as far as your normal range of motion will allow. Inhale and back to the center. Repeat to the left.  Do up to 3 sets of 20 alternating reps.

Chair Spinal Twist

Give your back some relief through this twisting posture. It also stimulates circulation, promotes proper digestion, and helps tone the belly.

Do this by sitting sideways on the chair, facing to the left.  Twist your torso toward the left, gripping the top of the chair with both hands for a spinal twist. Do this for 2 to 3 times and hold for 10 seconds, then switch to the chair's right side.

Seated Crunches

This exercise strengthens your core when done regularly.

To do this, sit on the edge of your sturdy chair with your feet on the ground. Lean back on the backrest. Then lift your straightened legs 1 to 2 inches above the ground and raise your back a few inches off the backrest. Hold for ten seconds for eight repetitions.

Seated Leg Extensions

Extend your legs to strengthen the thigh and hip muscles.

To do this, sit on the edge of your chair, positioning your arms by your sides.  Straighten your back and extend your right leg out straight, flexing your foot with your heel planted on the floor. Try lifting your leg as high as you can. Flexing your foot engages the muscles in the shins and ankle. Hold for three counts and then lower. Do this for up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

Seated Press-ups

Work on stability in your shoulders and relieve spinal compression through this exercise.

Do this by sitting in a chair with your feet resting comfortably on the ground and knees bent. Place your hands on the chair's armrests and press it down, lifting your body off the chair but still in the seated position. Your hips and buttocks should be just a half-inch or so off the chair.  Hold this position for three counts and release. You can also push up and down to work the backs of the arms more. Repeat four times if holding; work up to 3 sets of 10 reps if lifting and lowering.

 There are a wide range of exercises you can do when you are seated. These exercises may be straightforward, but the point is to improve your flexibility, muscle tone, and strength and avoid future complications of prolonged sitting.  Always pay careful attention to your body during any exercise. If you are hurt or experience pain, stop immediately, and consult your doctor.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.