How to exercise when stuck at your desk

Lady sitting at a laptop
Exercise at your desk

Does your working day entail 8 hours or more stuck behind a desk, barely moving apart from a quick dash to the loo or kitchen? Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be lining yourself up for serious health problems further down the line including eye strain and back ache.

Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways you can be creative with getting some exercise while at the office whether at home or an office building.

At your desk

blue eyes
Eye exercises when working at a computer

Eyes need to be exercised. Did you know that staring at a computer screen for too long leads to a lower blink rate – up to 66% less? This means your eyes aren't being sufficiently lubricated and can become too dry.

Aim to stare away from your computer screen at least once every 15 minutes and give them a mini workout. Start by looking upwards, then side to side, then down. Finish off with closing your eyes for a few seconds.

It’s easy to exercise your legs whether seated or standing at your desk, using various different techniques. While sitting down, put your feet flat on the floor and place a book between your knees then squeeze together as hard as you can for ten seconds, then relax. Repeat this several times.

You can also try using a resistance band while sitting down. Place the band around your ankles and / or knees and push against the band for a few minutes every hour.

One to try while standing is to hold onto the edge of your desk for support and proceed with a few leg lifts. This is one probably best done in an empty room!

People who are constantly moving or who have a kind of nervous energy are often slimmer than those who remain motionless for much of the time. But you can easily mimic them and burn off lots of extra energy by swinging your legs or twitching your feet as often as possible.

A great way to give your rear and outer thighs a workout is to squeeze your glutes tightly, hold for a few seconds and release. You can repeat this one as often as you remember.

If you have a long article to read, rather than hunching up in your chair, read it while standing up or do this simple upper arm toning exercise which can be done while seated.

Hold your arms out to the side and move them in small circular motions as if you're drawing a circle. Do 10 repetitions then repeat these motions in the opposite direction.

In the office

Ideally, aim to leave your seat at least once every hour and walk around the room for five minutes. Use any excuse to get out of your chair and onto your feet. Offer to retrieve print outs for colleagues if it means a walk to the other side of the room or get up and answer someone else’s phone if no one is around.

If possible, always offer to do the coffee round. If the office coffee is dire, use this as an excuse for a trip outside to the local coffee shop. As well as earning you a few popularity points, it’ll give you some extra exercise.

Visit the bathroom

A visit to the ladies or gents can also be an excuse for incorporating a little extra exercise. While washing your hands, stand in front of the mirror with your feet spaced evenly apart. Gradually bend your knees while keeping your back straight and lower yourself as far as comfortable then stand up again. Repeat as often as you can.

Use the stairs

In offices that are several stories high, try using the stairs whenever possible. Naturally, if you're on the 70th floor this may seem a tad unreasonable. But whichever floor you work on, have a target of completing a certain number of flights on foot each day, then take the lift the rest of the way.

There really is no limit, apart from your imagination, to the amount of exercise you can do while you're at the office. Every bit of exercise helps. Whether you exercise at your desk, in the rest room or by running up and down the stairs, you’ll soon find it is perfectly possible to give yourself a decent exercise workout during each day at the office and feel much fitter for your efforts.