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15 easy and simple at-desk workouts to get you moving while you work

The pandemic not only has us spending most of our time at home, but it also has us spending majority of our days (quite literally) on our butts as well. “Sitting is the new smoking”, sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to many various health issues such as weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

Whether you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day and/or aren’t currently ready to commit to a regular workout routine, these quick and easy at-desk workouts are just what you may need. Body movement does not only help you physically, but it may also affect your mental well-being and boost productivity. 

Here are 15 easy at-desk workouts to do during your work breaks, to get your blood flowing and give your brain a quick rest (all discrete enough to be done at home or in the office if you need them to be). 

at-desk workouts

 

Stretches 

  • Triceps stretch

Raise one arm and reach your hand towards the opposite shoulder blade, take your other hand and pull down on the bent elbow. Maintain for 8 counts, pushing the elbow as deep as you can, then repeat on the other side. 

  • Neck rolls

Feeling any neck pain from bending over your notes or staring at your laptop for too long? 

Relax and drop your head forward, roll your head in a circle in any direction. After 10 counts, slowly reverse the rotation of your head. 

  • Shoulder stretch + shoulder rolls

Intertwine your fingers and raise them above your head, palms facing the ceiling. Imagine pushing your palms up against the ceiling and hold for 2 counts of 8. 

Place your hands on their respective shoulders or on your hips and rotate your shoulders in one direction. After 8 counts, reverse the rotation towards the other direction. 

  • Torso twist 

Keep your feet planted on the floor and reach one hand to the back of your chair, let the other hand rest on the side of your leg facing the same direction. Take a deep breath and push your body towards one side as you exhale, using both the chair and your leg as support and a surface to push from and deepen the stretch. 

Hold for 8 counts then switch to the other side.  

  • Wrists and fingers stretch 

Writing and typing take a lot of quick and small movements, try this stretch out to prevent strains and cramping. Stand up and place your palms on your desk while facing your fingertips towards you. You may choose to lean back on your wrists to deepen the stretch. 

Hold until you feel the release in tension. 

  • Eagle Arms 

To stretch your upper back and your shoulders, hold your arms out in front of you and bend them upwards, with your fingers reaching for the ceiling. Place your right arm under your left and wrap your arms together until you are able to hold onto the outer edge of your left hand or touch the two palms together. Push your arms away from your body and reach upwards, move your head from left to right. 

Hold for 2 counts of 8, then proceed with the other side. 

 

Upper body 

  • Triceps dips

Take a chair (that doesn’t have wheels!) and place your hands on the edge of the seat, fingers facing your body. Stretch your legs out as far as you can, keeping your heels on the ground. Bend your arms to lower your body as much as you can, then push yourself up using the strength of your arms, holding the chair for support. 

Repeat for a minimum of 10 times. 

  • Desk push-ups

Stand at an arms-length distance from your desk (sturdy enough to support your body weight and without wheels). Place your palms on the edge of the desk, shoulder-width apart. Keep your legs straight and lower your body towards your desk, use the strength of your core and arms to keep your body straight. When your chest reaches your desk, straighten your arms and lift your body back up. This same technique may be used against a wall rather than against your desk. 

Repeat for a minimum of 10 times.

  • Arm pulses 

Keep your arms straight down at your sides, this may be done either sitting down or standing up (depending on your work chair). Face your palms towards the wall behind you and pump your arms backwards. Make sure to keep your arms straight and firm, keeping the movements powerful and controlled. 

Repeat for a minimum of 15 times. 

 

Lower body

  • Calf raises 

Stand up and raise your heels off the floor, get up as high as you can on your tippy toes, then lower yourself back down. You may use your chair for support. If you are up for an extra challenge, when lowering your heels try and hover them inches above the ground, not making contact, before lifting them back up once more. 

Repeat for a minimum of 15 times.

  • (Chair) Squats

Achieve your slim thicc dreams by squeezing this into your work break routine. Get up from your seat, keeping your legs shoulder width apart, and lower your body back down but stop your butt from touching the seat and stand back up. 

Repeat for a minimum of 10 times.

If you feel like switching it up, try out a 30-60 second wall sit. Place your back against a wall and slide down it until your hips are level with your knees and your thighs are parallel to the floor (as if you are sitting on an invisible chair against the wall). Squeeze those thighs and glutes and keep that core tight! 

  • Standing rear pulses

This is similar to a donkey kick but done in a standing position. Hold on to your table/chair for support and bend one leg behind you, the sole of your foot facing the wall at your back. Flex your foot and push it backwards like you are trying to kick off the wall behind you. 

Repeat for a minimum of 15 times, then proceed with the other side. 

 

Core

  • Desk plank

A similar set-up to the desk push-ups, lean against your desk, keeping your arms and body straight. Get on the balls of your feet and tighten your core. To do side planks, lean one forearm on your desk and keep your body straight as you face one side. Raise your other arm towards the ceiling. 

Hold for at least 30 seconds (then repeat on the other side for side planks). 

  • Oblique twists

Put your swivel chair to good use and stimulate your oblique muscles. Sit up straight and lift your feet off the floor. Hold onto your desk and use your core to move your chair from left to right. 

Go back and forth for a minimum of 15 times.

  • Lower-abs leg lifts 

An exercise easy to hide under your desk, sit up straight and plant your feet flat on the floor. Lift up one leg up at a time and keep your core tight. If this feels too easy, try lifting both legs simultaneously. 

Repeat for a minimum of 15 times.

 

Who needs a gym when you have a chair and a desk? Take these stretches and exercises and formulate a routine that works best for you, make sure to stay aware of your body’s limits and avoid overstraining yourself. Taking breaks and moving your body allows your brain to rest and rejuvenate after long hours of working. 

Especially if you can’t find the time to do full out exercises, then at least these at-desk workouts have got you covered in the mean time.

Good luck with whatever you are working on, and don’t forget to keep on moving! 

Desk workouts

 

Other POP! stories you might like:

5 desk workouts you can do while working from home

Get that beach body even away from the beach

Sitting up straight could boost your mood, says study

Exhausted at work? Time to take a microbreak!

Sleeping in on weekends might lower risk of an early death, study says

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