Too much sitting throughout the day can have alarming effects on your overall health. Unfortunately, many of us work jobs that require us to be seated in an office for at least eight hours each day.

But what if there was a way to stay active even while being productive?

Working on your fitness from 9 to 5 doesn’t require dropping the ball at work. There are a number of creative exercises that can keep you moving even through conference calls and making spreadsheets.

Desk Exercises

These simple exercises don’t require any fancy gym equipment and can easily be done in your home office or in a cubicle. They’re discreet enough to not draw any stares, but effective enough to get your blood pumping and muscles working.

1. Chair Dips

During your next break, try a set of these before ordering that coffee to go. You’ll give your triceps a great workout while strengthening your whole upper body.

1. To start, make sure you’re sitting in a sturdy chair (if you have a rolling chair, make sure it’s in a locked position!) with your feet flat and shoulder-width apart.
2. Scoot forward to the edge of your seat, keeping your back straight.
3. Gripping the sides or arm rests of your chair, slowly lower your body downward toward the ground until your arms bend to a 90-degree angle.
4. Push yourself back up to the starting position by extending your arms.
5. Try a few sets of 10 reps (depending on how much time you have).

2. Chair Squats

Squats are a simple, easy exercise that don’t require any equipment, but they might feel a bit awkward (and inappropriate) to perform in a crowded office. If you lack privacy, you might try some “chair squats” instead—they’re effective and won’t bring you any unwanted stares. Basically all you need to do is sit and stand repeatedly.

How to do chair squats:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed forward.
2. Keeping your back flat and arms out in front of you, slowly squat down toward your seat, keeping your core tight.
3. Just as you touch the chair, bring yourself back up by engaging your glutes.

Tip: Don’t get too comfortable before coming back up. Barely touching the seat makes it more challenging.

3. Calf Raises

These are incredibly easy and can be done while standing just about anywhere. They’re especially useful when you’re waiting for something to print or if you’re standing while filing. Practice these a few times a day if you want to tone up your calves.

How to perform calf raises:

1. Find a surface to rest your hands in front of you for support.
2. Raise your heels a few inches above the ground.
3. Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower your heels back to the floor.
4. Repeat for 10 reps, and complete as many sets as you wish.

4. Seated Torso Crunch

You don’t need to lie down to work your abs! Try this exercise while seated in your chair (again, make sure the wheels are locked!)

How to perform a torso crunch:

1. Sit at the edge of your seat and hold on to the sides (much like the chair dips).
2. With your knees together, bring your legs up toward your chest.
3. Return to starting position.
4. Repeat for about one minute.

5. Arm Circles

They’re not going to get you The Rock’s triceps, but arm circles are an easy and effective way to burn calories and target arm flab. And you actually will feel the burn after a few sets of these—just try!

How to perform arm circles:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms out so they are parallel with the floor.
2. Move your arms in small, controlled circles, progressively forming bigger ones.
3. Reverse the direction after about 30 seconds.

6. Wall Sit

Next time you’re waiting for a meeting to start, or you just don’t know how to spend your afternoon break, try doing a wall sit to build up your strength and endurance.

How to perform a wall sit:

1. Standing with your back straight against a wall (cubicle not recommended), bend your knees and slide your back down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (like you’re sitting in an invisible chair).

2. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds, or longer if you’ve built up your endurance.

7. Levitating Lift

Also known as the “magic carpet ride,” this exercise will have you signing “A Whole New World” as you float above your office chair.

How to perform this lift:

1. Sit cross legged in your chair (your feet should be on the chair as well).

2. Place your hands on your chair’s arm rests. (If you have a rolling chair, make sure it’s locked!)

3. Push your body upward and away from your chair.

4. Keep your body raised off the seat for about 15-20 seconds, take a break, then repeat for a few more reps.

8. Bicep Curls

If you don’t have an actual dumbbell handy, you can work your arms using a number of office items, like a water bottle or ream of paper.

How to perform bicep curls:

1. Let your arms fall to your sides.

2. Holding a full water bottle or whichever item you choose, slowly bend your arm upwards, bringing the item toward you.

3. Repeat for 3 sets of 12 reps.

Stay Active Even At the Office

Even if you plan on squeezing in a gym session after work, all those hours of sitting can still negatively impact your health.

With a little creativity, you can stay fit at the office and still grab that Employee of the Month gift card.

How do you like to stay fit at the office? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!


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