9 Exercises You Can Do in the Workplace

If you work a desk job, you know the pain of having to sit for most of the day. In fact, 86% of Americans have a job that keeps them strapped to a desk for 7+ hours a day. Sitting too often for too long has been linked to a host of health issues including cancer, poor cardiovascular health, and even premature death.

Moving throughout the day is important for your overall mental and physical health. Getting up and moving for 15 minutes every hour can boost your focus and productivity.

Stretching businesswoman

The good news is that there are plenty of exercises you can incorporate into your day to boost your calorie burn. Here are 12 exercises to add to your office hours.

1. Take the Stairs

One of the simplest ways to move more throughout the day is to take the stairs. Increase your workout by taking two steps at a time to feel a nice burn in your legs. Taking the stairs also keeps you out of those awkward elevator conversations! If you work in a single floor building, take the long way to meetings or to get lunch. The more steps you can get in, the better.

2. Jump Squats

If you’re looking to shape up your legs and bum, check out the jump squat. This is the perfect exercise to celebrate those “yay!” moments. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and then jump up and land softly on your toes. You can even mix things up with split squat jumps. Do this for 30 second intervals throughout the day.

3. Stretch

Sitting for hours on end can cause your neck, back, and legs to become stiff. To release tension and stress throughout your body, be sure to stretch. One of the best stretches is to interlace your fingers and then reach upwards. This stretches your back, arms, and shoulders. Other stretches to consider include:

  • Shrugs

  • Ear to shoulder

  • Chest opener

Stretching is also ideal for those high stress days when you need to relieve a little tension. Keep yourself limber with these exercises.

4. Calf Raises

Got plans to print a huge document? Want to get the most out of the time you spend standing? Instead of standing around lackadaisically, get in some calf raises! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and push up onto your tiptoes. Pause at the top and then lower back down slowly. Repeat this until you feel a burn and then take a few seconds break.

5. Wall Sits

This is the ideal exercise if you want to feel a burn in your legs and butt. Stand with your back firmly against a wall and slowly slide your back down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds and then stand up slowly. To make this even more challenging, cross your ankle over your knee, hold the position, and then switch.

Employees work using standing desks
photo credit: Simplified Building / Flickr

6. Stand

These days many employers have embraced ergonomic desks. If you have a sit/stand desk, be sure to alternate between the two. Standing is much better than sitting. Aside from at your desk, try to stand as much as possible, such as during a meeting or when speaking to your boss.


7. Leg Raises

This exercise can be done during those long periods of spreadsheet editing or email reading. When sitting, lift one or both of your legs parallel to the ground. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then alternate. You can even add a crunch into the mix, which can help you to lose belly fat.

8. Desk Dancing

Are you one of those people who listens to music to get work done? If so, you know those moments when Pandora plays just the right song that makes you want to move and groove. If you’ve got a private office or working space, don’t hesitate to bust a move in your seat. Better yet, get on those feet and jam for a few minutes!

9. Jog in Place

Obviously you may want to skip this exercise if you’re in a jam packed office, but jogging in place is ideal for small spaces. If you’re alone for a few minutes, hop out of your seat and jog in place. To really get your heart going, try knee ups! Jogging in place, even if for just a minute or two, gets your heart going and your blood pumping. Rinse and repeat throughout the day to avoid those mid-morning and mid-afternoon slumps.



Don’t let your desk job be the demise of your health. Be sure to try out these exercises to keep yourself active throughout your workday. And who knows, maybe you’ll shed a few pounds in the process!

Would you try any of these exercises? How do you stay active at work? Share your tips with us in the comments below!