8 Exercises To Do While Sitting At Work

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If you spend all day sitting down at work, you’re not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers spend around 43.2 percent of their workdays in chairs, equating to between three and four hours per day. 

Unfortunately, sitting for too long is bad for you. Research says that it can damage metabolic health, put you at higher risk of chronic disease, and lead to posture issues. 

The good news is this: you can still exercise while sitting at work to keep your body guessing. Movement gets your blood flowing and muscles working, helping you stay healthy, even if you’re stuck in the office. 

Exercise #1: Leg Extensions

If you’ve ever been to the gym, you’ve probably tried the leg extension machine. It’s pretty simple: you sit in a chair, put your shins under the lever, and then extend your legs out in front of you. 

The cool thing about this exercise is that you can do it without any machines or weight at all. Sitting at your desk, try extending one leg out in front of you, then the other, isolating the quadriceps. If you want to challenge yourself, hold your legs in the extended position for a few seconds, squeeze at the top, and then release. 

Exercise #2: Calf Raises

Calf raises are another option.

Move to the edge of your seat and then place your feet flat on the floor. If the chair is too high, lower it or place something that won’t get damaged under your feet to raise them up. Then push down into your toes and raise your heels and legs off the ground. If you want to make the exercise a bit more difficult, squeeze at the top, as before. Try five sets of 30 reps. 

Exercise #3: Straight-Leg Circles

If you want to raise the difficulty level, try straight-leg circles. This exercise challenges your leg muscles and core. 

Starting from a normal seated position, straighten both legs out in front of you so that they are parallel to the floor. Then attempt to draw an “O” shape with your feet under your desk. Go clockwise for a few reps, then anticlockwise, and then clockwise again, alternating as you see fit. When you get tired, take a break, and then do another set. 

Exercise #4: Lower Body Marches

If you want to feel like you are walking at your desk, try this. Put your hands palm-down on the sides of your seat. Then use your lower abdominals to pull your right foot off the floor. Lower it back down again and then do the same for your left foot. Keep repeating for 15 to 30 marches, doing up to five sets. 

Exercise #5: Butt Squeeze

Butt squeezing is another exercise that you can try.

For this, start by contracting the hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the thighs). Then tense your butt muscles. If you do it right, you should notice that you raise yourself off your seat. 

Your glutes are the biggest muscle in your body. Unfortunately, when you sit down all day, they don’t get a lot of exercise. Squeezing them, though, helps to flush them with blood and keep them active. 

Exercise #6: Shoulder Press

If your hands are free, you can also do shoulder presses while seated. 

For these, start with a weight in each hand (perhaps a water bottle). Then sit up straight, raise your arms above your head, and turn your palms to face forwards. Press the weights into the air to activate the shoulder muscles and arms. Perform the movement slowly to get the most out of it. Aim for three sets of fifteen. 

Exercise #7: Tricep Extension

You can do something similar for your triceps. Grab a water bottle and then straighten your arm above your head. Then bend at the elbow, allowing the water bottle to fall backward before straightening again. Two sets of fifteen should be enough for you to feel the burn. 

Exercise #8: Arm Circles

Lastly, you can try arm circles. Extend your arms out to the side in a T shape and then rotate them from the shoulder joint. You should notice strain in your shoulder muscles. Circle forwards, take a break, and then circle backward for maximum benefit. 

Wrapping Up

In summary, while standing desks are all the rage, there are still plenty of ways to exercise at work, even while sitting. What’s more, they target most of the body, from the calves all the way up to the shoulders.

exercise | exercise at work | chair exercises