Fitness, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Versatile Exercises that you can do at your desk

Don’t cramp up.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Oct 26, 2021

I hope I’m not alone when I say it’s been hard to become motivated to work out throughout the pandemic. In the first couple of months, I had kept my routine of working out 6x a week, seeing a personal trainer, attending weekly sessions with a flexologist at a stretching studio, and practicing mindful meditation every morning.


But like most people, as the pandemic continues on, with no end date in sight, my motivation and my work-life balance line is running thinner and thinner these days. I recently decided that this poor posture, sedentary lifestyle isn’t it.


And because I spend most of my free time seeing a friend or getting ahead on work (or catching up, tbh), I needed something that I could do at my desk while working. So I set out to research some exercises and stretches to keep me active during the workday. I figured it was the least I could do if I planned to continue spending 9-12 hours hovering over my small laptop screen.


Below is what I’ve incorporated into my routine. I’m happy to report that I’m getting my flexibility and posture back while also occasionally breaking some sweat. If anything, the act of being even moderately physical again has motivated me to do power walks, runs, and yoga throughout the week. So I’m considering the below series a big win.


And not only does it feel good to be active again, but it also has boosted my energy level, metabolism, focus, and blood flow. Not to mention there are studies that prove exercising during your 9-5 can drastically improve productivity, mood, task tolerance, and time management. So go on, be active with me.


Posture Series: to improve your posture

Neck power

  1. Bring chin to chest and hold for 3 full inhales and exhales.
  2. Lift head towards neutral and look at the ceiling, hold for full breath.
  3. Bring neck back to neutral and tilt right ear to right shoulder, hold for 5 seconds while breathing. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Lastly, rotate the neck in small circles both clockwise and counterclockwise.


The actual flick of the wrist

Sadly, repetitive hours and hours spent typing can lead to carpal tunnel. Stretching and strengthening your wrist flexors and extensors will help in avoiding this common syndrome.

  1. Raise each wrist/arm as if you are gesturing to someone to “stop.” Hold and breath for 10 seconds.
  2. Rotate the palm down until it is facing you. Hold and breathe for 10 seconds.


Active Series: to break a small sweat

Tighten up

If you don’t want to fully squat, chair squats will be your best friend.

  1. Sit up straight and towards the edge of your chair.
  2. Place hands on the chair.
  3. Lift butt off chair and have legs parallel.
  4. Squeeze quads and come down bending the knee.
  5. 15-20 reps of these should be plenty.


Raise the bar

If you hate push-ups, you might enjoy desk push-ups. Known to tone the chest, arms and core, push-ups can be challenging but are massively beneficial. By doing one at an incline, like on your desk, it makes the staple exercise a bit easier, as the gravity on the body is less than the floor. Complete 15-20 reps.


Lateral raises

  1. Grab a pair of light weights or similar object.
  2. Raise arms up and forward — holding at the top for five seconds.
  3. Complete five reps on each side.


The A-B-Cs

Strengthen and elongate the muscles in your lower legs by drawing the letters of the alphabet with your foot. This one can be done mindlessly while you work. Once you do one foot, switch to the other.


Jump rope

Time for some quick cardio? Grab a jump rope and reap the benefits of an increased heart rate, calorie burn and improved bone density. Depending on how much time you have, go for 30 second sessions. This is a great way to restore energy to your workday.


Need something a little more? Why not add an exercise ball into your routine?


Photo via visualspace/Getty Images