People use every excuse in the book not to exercise— “no time” being the biggest reason. But, what if you could exercise while at work at your desk? Perhaps you will no longer be that woman with robot-like stiffness or the man with repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. These few stretches and exercises will help keep you limber and feeling refreshed to get through the day.
10 Desk Exercises You Can Do at Work
1. Chair Raises
This works your core and arms. Sit in your chair with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat. Then place your hands on the armrests, suck in your abs (stomach muscles) and raise yourself a few inches above the seat, using your belly muscles and hands. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat five times.
2. Tricep Desk Dips
This is for upper-body strength. This will help the backs of your arms. Place your rear on the edge of the desk, and then place your palms on the edge of the desk on either side of you. Keeping your feet together, bend at the elbows, and slide forward off of the desk and dip down a few inches, and then push back up. Dip to where your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Do this 20 times. For a more difficult variation, straighten your legs or put your feet on a chair.
3. Carpal Tunnel Reliever
Carpal tunnel syndrome shouldn’t catch up to you if you repeat this simple move every day. Stand at your desk with your arms straight, place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed toward you, palms up. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch (you won’t have to go far). Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat as needed through the day.
4. Leg Raises
For lower-body strength: Sit in your chair, extend one leg out straight in front of you and hold for two seconds. Then raise it up as high as you can, and hold it again for two seconds. Repeat with each leg 15 times.
5. Desk Lunges
Stand tall with feet together by either your desk or chair. Put left hand on desk Take a big step behind you with your left leg, lifting your left heel off of the floor, keeping most of your weight in your right leg. Slowly bend both knees, lowering your body straight down until both knees make 90-degree angles, being sure to keep your front knee in line with your ankle. Push down through your front heel as you slowly stand back up. (Do 15 reps on both legs).
6. Shoulder Spin
This is a good move for flexibility. Sit tall in your chair and reach your left hand behind your back, between your shoulder blades, palm out. Then reach your right hand up toward the ceiling, bend it down, and try to touch your left hand. If you can reach it, great: Hold for 10 seconds. If not, grab onto your shirt and keep practicing. Switch arms and repeat.
7. Feet-Up Hamstring Stretch
To ease the hamstrings, lower back and calf muscles, push your chair away from your desk and put a leg up on the desk or short file cabinet or open a drawer. (Ladies, try this on a day you’re not wearing a skirt.) Flex your foot and lean forward slightly over your leg while keeping your back straight. Hold for 10 seconds. Point your foot, lean and hold for five seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
8. Chair Squats
These squats from the chair are a strengthening exercise. They work best if you lower your seat as far as it will go. Stand in front of your chair with your feet a hip’s width apart. Place your hands on your hips and lower your butt until it’s just above the seat. Then sit down as slowly as possible. Do 20 repetitions. To make it harder reach your hands straight out in front of you like you’re reaching to the other side of the room. If you’re really feeling steady, try it on one leg. Once this is accomplished, go down as far as possible, but don’t sit down, come back up.
9. Seated Side Bends
This exercise creates a tighter tummy and stronger core. Side-to-side movement that twist the core help target your obliques, located on the sides of your stomach. Don’t limit stomach exercises to those that move back and forth. In addition to giving you a better look, stronger obliques can help you rotate your torso farther to help generate power from your core.
10. Desk or Wall Push Ups
These are for upper-body strength. Stand a yard or more away from your desk or a wall, with your feet together. Place your palms on the edge of the desk a shoulder’s width apart. Lower your chest to the edge of the desk, and push back up. Remember to exhale on the way up. Do 20 times.