7 Strength-Building Exercises While You Sit at Work

Let’s face it: when you work in an office, a hard day’s work only involves sweat if you have a big presentation or too many tacos for lunch. Long gone are the days of having to physically earn our bacon; most of us are at a desk for the majority of our work day (and yet still eat bacon). You might be working hard for the money, but your body usually isn’t, and that’s a problem. As it turns out, the recommended 30 minutes of cardio five times a week might not be enough to counteract the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day.  Luckily, there are strength exercises you can do while at your desk to improve your overall fitness level and decrease your risk for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Here are some seated desk exercises you can do that  focus on strength:


Seated Leg Raises

  • Straighten left leg, lift up and hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Lower back down and repeat 10-15 more times
  • Repeat with right leg
  • Need more? Add a purse, book bag or briefcase strap over your ankle for added weight


Side Bends

  • Sit up tall and engage your core
  • Lean to the right, contracting your obliques
  • Repeat 10-15 times slowly, then switch to the left side


Inner Thigh Knee Lift

  • Lift right knee up and tilt inner arch of foot up towards the ceiling
  • Lower back slowly to starting position
  • Repeat 10-15 times then switch to left leg


Straight Leg Toe Points

  • Straighten legs out in front of you with feet together
  • Alternate between flexing and pointing feet
  • Keep legs straight and lifted the entire time
  • Repeat 10-15 times


Desk Squats

  • Raise the hips until they are just hovering over the chair, arms out in front of you or by your side
  • Hold for to 3-5 seconds then stand all the way up
  • Repeat 10 to 15 more times


Shoulder Shrugs

  • Raise both shoulders up to the ears, hold for 5 seconds, then relax
  • Repeat 10-15 times
  • Added challenge? Hold a ream of paper in each hand as you shoulder shrug


The Namaste

  • Sit upright with feet flat on the floor, bring the palms together in front of the chest and push both hands together
  • Hold the hands pressed together for 20 seconds
  • Release and repeat the sequence 3-5 times


Afraid you’ll forget to exercise during the course of your work day? Set an alarm on your phone, do a calendar reminder, use sticky notes or download apps that remind you to move more.


Photo Credit: Creative Commons via Flickr user Lockner