Exercises to do at your desk

This September, we’re asking you to get a little more activity into your day, and raise funds for Scope’s work. Sign up today for Steptember and get ready to get active! Here are some exercises you can do at your desk to boost your step count.

There are so many articles out there about different ways to work out at work. We’ve scoured all of the articles to find the best exercises you can do at your desk from every source possible. And we’ve tried to make sure all of these can be done without standing.

1. Stretch

Forbes includes this exercise as one of their 10 best on their website and we think it’s good to start with a stretch. Sit tall in your chair and stretch your arms towards the ceiling for starters. You probably already do this exercise. Then, take your left arm, reach across your body and grab the back of your chair and turn your torso to the right to stretch out your spine. Repeat this with your right arm turning toward the left.

2. Arm pumps

WebMD has a series of great exercises, but most of them involve getting up from your seat. If that’s not an option, you can try arm pumps. If you have any items on your desk that can act as weights, this can help. Hold your arms up at right angles on each side of your head and straighten them out. Try that as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then you can either rest for 30 seconds, or tap your feet on the floor football drill style during that time. Repeat this 3-5 times.

3. Single arm raises

Men’s Fitness recommends a series of workout tips for sitting at your desk, but a lot of these are definitely for the seasoned professional used to gym jargon. This exercise though, is fairly simple. Place your chair against a wall and lift your left arm to shoulder height. Turn your palm facing the wall and push against the surface. Try to hold this until you can’t anymore, or for 15 seconds. Then repeat this on the opposite side.

4. Bicep building

Another tip from WebMD, this will allow you to strengthen your biceps and stretch your back. Put your hands on your desk, somewhere you can hang on. Push your chair back until your head is between your arms and you can see the floor. Then pull yourself slowly back in. Do this 15 times.

5. Hidden leg raises

HowStuffWorks has a series of secret workouts you can do at work if you don’t want anyone to notice. One of the best ones we found is a series of leg raises you can do under your desk. All you have to do is sit in your chair, hold your ab muscles tight, lift one leg toe the height of your hip and hold for 10 seconds, switching to the other leg when you’re done. If raising your leg isn’t an option, consider just tilting your body to one side and using your core muscles to hold the position for 10 seconds, and then switch.

6. Ab clenches

Wisebread makes a fantastic point in that some of these exercises might make you look a little silly at your desk. We think there’s nothing to be ashamed of in getting some exercise in, but in case you’re shy, you can try this one. Just sit at your desk and clench your own ab muscles for about ten seconds, then release. And repeat again in sets of 10-15. You can even do this with your bum muscles if you so wish. You might look a bit irritated or like you’re concentrating hard, but otherwise, no one will know.

7. Wrist stretch

So this is more of a stretch than an exercise – but these are important too! Especially if you type a lot. We’re throwing this in as a common stretch that many people do and something you should too. Put your right arm out in front of you with your palm facing up. Take your left arm and, parallel to your right hand, grab your fingers, pulling your fingers back just slightly and your hand with it until your palm is facing outward instead of up to the ceiling. This should stretch out your wrist and arm. Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

8. Tricep dips

Lifehack has a decent number of exercises you can try at your desk, some already mentioned. But this one we think can work for a variety of people, and you don’t need arm rests. Put your arms behind your back, make your hands into fists, and rest them on either side behind your bum. Then try to raise your bum off of the chair. You should feel your tricep muscle engaged. Try holding it for 10 seconds, taking a short rest and then repeating 10-15 times.

9. Cushion squeeze

Sam Murphy writing for the Guardian has a decent amount of suggested exercises in his article, but one of the best ones we found is the cushion squeeze. You can place a cushion or a rolled up jumper in between your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor and your hips square. Then squeeze the cushion and clench your bum. You should feel your inner thighs and bottom muscles contracting. Hold for five seconds and the slowly relax, but don’t let the cushion fall. Repeat this six times.

10. Cooldown stretches

WikiHow has a collection of fantastic simple stretches you can do involving all parts of your body. For this article, we’ll encourage you to roll your shoulders. Try 10 times backwards first and then 10 times forward. This can help relieve tension all throughout the day.

To get more active, please get a few friends and sign up for SteptemberIf you have any other specific exercises we haven’t mentioned here, please join our community and share them.