Staying Fit at Work: Easy Exercises to Do at Your Desk

At home or at the office, taking a break to exercise relieves stiffness, reduces stress, and increases productivity
Staying Fit Work Exercises

It can be challenging to fit an effective workout into your busy schedule. Working a full-time job while taking care of your family, juggling the demands of your work and private life, may leave little to no time for exercise.

If you have a desk job that keeps you in your chair for several hours a day, you should know that studies have linked sitting for long periods to an increased risk of over 30 serious conditions, including back and neck pain, depression and anxiety, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re having trouble finding time to be active and you don’t think you’re getting enough exercise to stay in shape and minimize your risk of significant health problems, try completing short exercises throughout the day instead. Even five to ten minutes of exercise at your desk can help you get through a mid-afternoon slump by stimulating blood flow.

Researchers have also discovered that exercise plays a vital role in managing work-life balance. Exercise helps reduce stress, and with lower stress, you can find yourself happier and more productive both at home and work. When you take regular short breaks to exercise, you give yourself a chance to clear your mind, recharge, and as a result, become more productive.

Here are some quick stretches and exercises you can do while sitting or standing in your office.

Neck Stretches

Before beginning any workout, do some neck exercises to release the tension, tightness, and stiffness in the neck that has built up from hours of sitting at your desk. Neck exercises can help with pain relief and flexibility.

  • Relax your body then lean your head forward.
  • Slowly roll your head to one side and hold for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with the other side.
  • Relax and raise your chin back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for each direction three times.

Wrist Stretches

Wrist stretches are a low-impact workout that may help you relieve and minimize wrist discomfort. They are especially beneficial for individuals who spend a lot of time on the computer. Stretching your wrists and the surrounding region can stimulate blood flow and boost your short-term range of motion and flexibility.

Prayer stretches are a type of wrist stretch that strengthens the muscles in your forearms, wrists, and hands.

  • Sit comfortably, with your elbows bent inward at a 90-degree angle.
  • With your fingers pointing upward, press your palms together.
  • Slowly drop your hands to your chest, extending your elbows and gently stretching your wrists.
  • Hold still, take a few deep breaths then release.

Lotus Pose

Working long hours can be difficult, but it can get even more stressful when you’re on your period and dealing with menstrual cramps. You can relieve period pain by introducing a little yoga practice into your workday.

The lotus pose helps relieve period pain, relaxes your mind, and boosts energy levels. It also aligns your spine and stretches your knees and ankles. You don’t even need a mat—just use a padded desk chair.

  • Sit on your padded chair or floor and straighten your legs out in front of you.
  • Keep your back straight, resting your arms at your side.
  • Bend your right knee then draw it toward your chest.
  • Place your right ankle on the crease of your left hip.
  • Repeat the process for your left knee and ankle.
  • Place your hands on your knees, with palms facing up.
  • Slightly lean forward and stretch your spine while keeping your shoulders back.


Step-ups are a simple body resistance and easy cardio workout that you may do between meetings. This exercise strengthens your core, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps and can improve leg strength and stability.

You can use an elevated step or chair for this exercise. To avoid injury, ensure that the surface you’re using is stable.

  • Place one foot on a stair step or a sturdy chair that is no higher than your knees.
  • Push that foot firmly into the chair and step up.
  • Step back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times on each side.

You can adjust the difficulty of your step-up workout by adding weights and raising the height of the elevated surface you use.

Desk Push-ups

This is an excellent upper-body workout that can help you burn calories, lose weight, strengthen your bones, and boost your stamina.

  • Stand a few steps from your desk, keeping your feet together.
  • Place your palms about shoulder-width apart at the edge of your desk.
  • Move your feet away from your desk until you are slanted toward it.
  • Lower yourself until your chest is almost touching your desk.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.


If your job requires you to sit for lengthy periods, short stretches and exercises at your desk can help you stay in shape. It is better to spend a few minutes exercising at work than to not exercise at all.

Consider stepping out of your office, too, and have the next session or consultation outside the conference room. A walking meeting can do wonders for you and your colleagues, helping improve your physical and mental health, as well as boosting your creativity and productivity.

Katie Pierce is a teacher-slash-writer who loves telling stories to an audience, whether it’s bored adults in front of a computer screen or a bunch of hyperactive 4-year-olds. Writing keeps her sane (most of the time) and allows her to enjoy some quiet time in the evening before she walks into a room of screaming kids (all of whom she loves dearly) the next morning. 

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