Desk Bound All Day? Squeeze in These Office Exercises for Better Health

by | Updated: December 14th, 2017 | Read time: 4 minutes

Long work days are a necessary evil sometimes. However, being stuck at the office isn’t an excuse to skip a workout. In fact, taking just a few short breaks a day can actually help you to be more productive and lessen the guilt of not making it to the gym.

Schedule one break in the morning and one in the afternoon to get your blood flowing from head to toe.  Try this office workout, which includes stretching, strength training and aerobics — everything you need for better health.

Woman Doing Office Exercises at Her Desk to Stretch |


After sitting at your desk for a few hours, start with some stretching to get the blood circulating.  

Neck rolls
  1. Sit up tall in your chair, arms comfortably by your sides.
  2. Turn and look to the right, hold, then turn to the left, hold and return to center.
  3. Tilt the right ear toward the right shoulder and hold. Repeat on the left side and return to center.
  4. Bring your chin to your chest then gently roll to the right, left and back to center.
  5. Repeat sequence twice.
Simple stretch
  1. Sit up tall in your chair, with feet flat on the floor, and intertwine fingers.
  2. With palms toward the ceiling, stretch up as high as you can.
  3. Slowly stretch to the left, hold, return to center, then stretch to the right and hold. Repeat.
Wrist flexes
  1. Put hands together, palms touching and placed in front of your chest with elbows out to the sides.
  2. Bend wrists side to side several times.
  3. Gently shake out wrists.

Strength training

The following exercises can be done circuit style, performing one exercise and then moving onto the next with minimal rest. I suggest doing them standing, as this gives you a break from sitting all day. Do 10 reps of each exercise and complete the circuit 2 to 3 times.

Upper body

Shoulder presses
  1. Find simple office products, such as a pack of copy paper or two full water bottles, to use as a weight.
  2. Sitting or standing, hold weighted object(s) with both hands at shoulder height.
  3. Raise it up over your head, then lower it back down.

No floor pushups here! Use the wall or the edge of your desk to do a traditional pushup. Concentrate on using all of your body weight.

Bicep curls
  1. Standing or sitting, keep your core tight, with shoulders back and arms by your sides, holding a full water bottle in each hand.
  2. Curl up both bottles toward shoulders, squeezing at the top and lowering slowly back down.
One-arm tricep extensions
  1. Core tight, stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. With arms at your side, hold a water bottle in your right hand.
  3. Bring up your right arm with palm facing forward.
  4. Bend arm from the elbow so the water bottle is lowered behind your head, keeping upper arm tight. Hold, then press back up, concentrating on triceps doing all of the work.
  5. Do 10 reps on the right, then repeat on the left.

Lower body

Simple squats & plié squats
  1. Stand behind a chair, feet hip-width apart, and place hands lightly on the back of it.
  2. Pretend you’re sitting down, keeping your back straight, and then push up through your heels as you stand.
  3. Repeat for 10 reps.
  4. Remain in the same position, but turn feet out.
  5. Lower your body down into the sitting position again, and as you raise up, squeeze your glutes.
  6. Repeat for 10 reps.
Calf raises
  1. Standing up straight behind your chair, place hands on the chair back for support.
  2. Slowly raise and lower your heels off the floor.

These can be done with feet together, shoulder-width apart or one foot at a time. Remember to keep your core tight!


Do these up and down the hallway or stationary at your desk.

  1. Stand with feet together, core tight.
  2. Step forward with one leg, and lower your back knee to the ground.
  3. If stationary, bring your front leg back to starting position; if mobile, bring back leg up to starting position.
  4. Repeat with other leg.
Secret glute squeeze
  1. Sit up straight in your chair and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can.
  2. Hold the squeeze 15 to 30 seconds, then release.


Taking just a 10-minute walking break from your desk can relieve stress, boost your mood and burn calories. Set a timer for 10 minutes and just walk. If you have some stairs in the building, even better. Walk up and down the stairs several times, then loop around the building and go back to the stairs.  After 10 minutes, you’ll be ready to tackle anything!

Nutrition tip: Don’t forget to keep healthy snacks, water and herbal tea available at your desk so there’s no temptation to hit the vending machines.