How to sneak in exercise at the office

How to sneak in exercise at the office


How to sneak in exercise at the office

It’s common knowledge that exercise lifts your mood, gives you energy and improves your concentration.

Let’s look at how to get some right at your desk.

If exercising in your workspace isn’t top of mind, a simple tool can help.

“It is best to set a timer for every hour as a reminder to get up and either go for a walk or do a strength-training exercise for a few minutes,” says Nicole Pollock, an exercise specialist with Unum.

For your upper body

Sit or stand, with your shoulders over your hips. Tighten your belly so that you don’t strain your lower back.

Biceps Grab a book or a heavy water bottle with one hand, and bring your arm to your side. Face your palm forward. Do bicep curls with the object, lifting your hand to the front of your shoulder as you bend your elbow, then releasing it all the way down. Switch hands.

Triceps Grab a book or a heavy water bottle with one hand, and bring your arm to your side. Face your palm toward your midline, and then hold your arm back about 15-45 degrees. With your upper arm stationary, bend at the elbow and draw the object toward the front of your shoulder, then straighten your arm again. Switch hands.

Bonus if your book or bottle is wide, making it hard to hold: Your forearms are getting a workout too.

Shoulders Reach your arms out laterally, as if you’re trying to create the letter “T” using your arms and torso. Make small circles with your arms in one direction, and then in the other direction.

Bonus if you hold an object in each hand, adding weight.

For your lower body

Glutes and quadriceps Squats, also called sit-to-stand. You can use your chair, and literally move from sitting to standing, then back. Or step away from your desk and move between the two. To protect your knees, try not to let them go past your toes. You’ll sit your weight back more in order to do this.

Calves The simplest of the bunch – especially if you have a standing desk. Start standing with your feet flat, and then rise up high on the balls of your feet and toes. To make it more challenging, do one leg at a time, by lifting the other leg off the ground with a bend in the knee.

Bonus if you can coordinate deep inhales and exhales with the motions.

We’ve already talked about core exercises you can do at the office, but here they are again: Scissor kicks, desk push-ups and knee-to-elbow curls.

Pollock suggests 12 to 20 repetitions per exercise a few times a day.

You also can work in fitness at the office when away from your workspace. An obvious way: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Less obvious, though you might look more goofy: Instead of walking, do walking lunges, Pollock suggests. Avoid this one, though, if you’re wearing high heels.


Journalist Mitra Malek has taught yoga regularly since 2006. She was a senior editor for Yoga Journal and still does research for the magazine on wellness, fitness and nutrition. Learn more at

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