The Beginner's Guide to Desk Exercises

In 2013, it was reported that 86% of American jobs involved sitting for long periods—if not all day1. Desk jobs make it difficult to exercise one’s body properly and can lead to a largely sedentary lifestyle with health hazards galore. The trick is to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine as much as possible, even while plugging away on that Excel sheet.

Whether you’re looking to improve desk posture, prevent carpal tunnel, relieve stress, strengthen your core, or stretch your legs, there are a plethora of desk exercises at your disposal even within the bounds of your cubicle!

Poor posture is a huge side effect of working a desk job but can be monitored with proper technique.

Sit with your back against your chair, feet flat on the ground. The center of your computer screen should be at eye level. Tip: don’t cross your legs! Unless you’re Mrs. Incredible and have insane powers of flexibility, keeping your feet flat on the ground necessitates that your legs remain uncrossed.

Try a shoulder roll… or five. Breathe deeply and, as you inhale, raise your shoulders up towards your ears. Pull your shoulder blades down as you exhale. Replicate motion five to ten times and repeat as often as you like!

Carpal Tunnel
After a long day of typing and keyboard motion, your hands will begin to feel the burn associated with carpal tunnel. Give your hands a break! Stand at your desk with arms straight. Place your palms on the desk with your fingers pointed towards you. Lower your body slowly until you feel the stretch; hold for fifteen seconds. Repeat as needed throughout the day2.

Stress causes our bodies to become tense and constricted. An easy way to relax and relieve built up tension is to contract our muscles.

Try a simple neck roll. Turn your head all the way to the left, keeping your chin parallel with your left shoulder. Slowly drop your head and perform a half-circle motion with your neck so that you finish at your right shoulder. This move will pull your muscles and release the tension in your neck3.

Yes, you can work your core while on the clock. Sit in your chair with your legs crossed and your feet on the seat (think pretzel-style). Place your hands on the armrests. Breathe in, sucking in your gut, and raise yourself above the seat using only your belly, muscles, and hands. Hold the position for 10-20 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Replicate motion five times1.

Your poor legs have fallen prey to the sedentary motion of your job. Give them some attention! Next time you schedule a meeting, consider a standing meeting and encourage your coworkers to follow suit—making the exercise a group effort creates accountability.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator or, for a challenge, take them two at a time!

Incorporate short walks into your workday. Take a bathroom break every hour; walk to the water fountain for a quick refresher. Wear a pedometer to work and see how many steps you typically take—then try to beat your score the next day!

Replace your desk chair with a stability ball. This simple switch is proven to3:
– Improve balance
– Strengthen abdominal section and tone core muscles
– Take stress off lower back
– Aid with concentration

Try these quick exercises and you’ll soon discover a difference in both your quality of life and the quality of your work. A little movement goes a long way!