7 Effective Exercises You Can Do in the Office

In our hectic daily lives, it can be a challenge to find room to get active. Even though I’m an endurance runner and I make room for my exercise routine, I know that not everyone is ready or able to make that sort of commitment. If you want to start making moves towards a healthier you but you don’t feel you have the time in your schedule, one of the easiest ways to start incorporating physical activity into your life is to exercise in the office.

You don’t have to worry about looking silly or feeling self-conscious, either. There are many exercises you can do at your desk that are totally discreet. You can exercise without anyone ever knowing if you don’t want them to.

What matters is that you start moving! Every effort, no matter how big or small, counts.


7 Simple Yet Effective Office Exercises

1) Take the stairs.

This is perhaps the easiest change you can make. If you don’t take the stairs to get to your office, start taking the stairs! Stairs are great exercise, even if it’s just a flight or two. If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, take steps two at a time going up so that you really work your muscles.

Don’t have stairs? Walk to work or start parking further away from the office. Intentionally refuse to take the easy way and instead choose to be intentionally active.

2) Get a standing desk.

Standing desks are rising in popularity, and for good reason. Sitting for hours at a time is just not good for our health. Standing improves circulation, improves heart health, burns more calories, and helps with weight management. While people with vascular issues don’t need to jump on the standing desk bandwagon, they also need to get up and walk around regularly to avoid the detriments of sitting for an entire workday.

Standing, in general, is better for us because you are more prone to move around. You can more readily walk, squat, and do other exercises.

3) Do seated leg raises.

Seated leg raises are a simple yet effective exercise that you can perform under your desk with no one the wiser. Simply sit back in your chair and extend one or both legs off of the floor until fully extended. Hold them in the extended position for five to ten seconds (or as long as you can stand it!), then lower your legs until your feet are just about to touch the floor. Repeat this motion fifteen times (alternating legs if doing one at a time).

4) Take an activity break.

This is a great habit to get into. If you work in an office, start taking activity breaks. Whether you’re in the middle of a brainstorm, speaking on the phone, or just on the way to get more coffee anyway, take a minute to just walk around. Go up and down a flight of stairs. Go outside and walk around the building, or jog around it. Do jumping jacks in the parking lot.

Whatever it is that gets your blood flowing for a few short minutes, clears your head, and gets you moving. These short, small breaks throughout the day are not only good for your body, but they’re also good for your brain.

5) Check emails, get toned.

Most of us have time in the day where we don’t necessarily need both of our hands. Maybe we’re checking emails, doing research, or just reading up on something. This is prime time to get toned. Grab the nearest heavy-duty stapler (or another suitable object of similar shape and weight) and start doing some arm curls. It’s an easy exercise to do when all you have to do is read or brainstorm.

You can even bring free weights to keep in the office if you’re so inclined. Your coworkers likely wouldn’t think twice about it. Smaller pieces of exercise equipment are great to keep handy for just such an occasion.  

6) Find every reason to walk.

Unfortunately, many of us look for reasons to do as little activity as possible. We’ve got to change that mindset if we want to get active. Instead of looking for reasons to get out of moving, look for every opportunity to walk. Could you walk to speak with your coworker when you would usually send an email or message? Walk and talk. Do you usually order takeout for lunch and have it delivered to the office?

Walk to lunch.

Do you ask a coworker passing by to run an errand for you because they’re already up? Be the guy who’s already up. Find reasons to get up and walk. It might feel inconvenient, but you know that you’re moving, and that’s making a long-term impact for the good of your health.

7) Stretch and stretch some more.

I think people undersell the value in stretching. No, stretching isn’t the most you can do when it comes to exercise. But it’s a lot better than not doing anything. Periodically through your day, stretch. I’m not talking about just raising your arms above your head for a good yawn. I’m talking real stretching. Tighten your muscles, get tension in there, hold it, and release. Do leg and arm extensions, torso twists, roll out your neck and back, shrug and roll your shoulders, work out your wrists and ankles...the whole nine yards!

This helps prevent pain flare-ups and muscle stiffness overall, which allows you to keep up with the rest of your exercise activity.

You're not likely to break a real sweat doing office workouts. Many of us have this idea in our head that any exercise that isn't a dedicated hour or more in the gym isn't worth doing—and that's so backwards!

Anything you do to better your health, whether it's making one healthier meal choice or choosing to take the stairs, impacts your health. Small steps make a big impact.

You can start making moves towards a better, healthier you today with small changes in your routine.

What small changes to your diet or exercise routine do you find make a big difference? Share your experience in the comments.