Exercises to Try at Work

Starting with where you park your car, you can build easy exercise strategies into your workday in no time at all. Start with these 10 office exercises.

1. Calf Raises

These are perfect for when you’re waiting at the copier, printer, or microwave. While standing, simply lift your heels up off the ground, bring them down, and repeat. Sure, they’re noticeable, but the actually amount of movement is about on-par with fidgeting.

2. Walking

So many articles on exercising at work include walking for a good reason — it’s great for you, easy to do on your lunch break, and a totally normal activity. I won’t suggest that you trade eating mindfully for shoving your face full of food so you can get out and walk, but if you can split your lunch break between eating and walking, that’s a great compromise.

3. Turn to Stress Balls for Toning

These tough little rubber or foam fist-sized balls are not just for stress relief. Reicherter strongly recommends them as a way to strengthen and tone your hands. “With repetition, you can really gain some arm strength,” she says. “It’s especially good for people who type a lot. Keeping those muscles strong and flexible can help prevent wrist and hand problems.” Best of all, you can do this quick workout without leaving your desk.

4. Chair Dips

This probably has the highest silly factor out of all the exercises I’m recommending. You can’t do these without bobbing up and down a little bit, and depending on the height of your cubicle walls, your up-and-down motion could make you look like you’re on a boat at sea. Check out instructions for chair dips from About.com, or if you want to stay seated in your chair, you can also try putting your hands on the arms of your chair and lifting yourself up and down.

5. Taking the Stairs

Yes, this is another old classic. You should take the stairs instead of the elevator, but also take the stairs, up, down, and up again a few times if you can. This can be especially fun if you work in a big corporate complex. Carry a folder to make it look like you’re delivering something.

6. Leg Lifts

Lift one leg until it’s straight and parallel to the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then lower. Repeat 10-15 times, and switch to the other leg.

7. Stretching

Ah, yes, stretching – or, as I like to think of it, “the only exercise you can do a lot of at work and get away with it.” Where most cardio or strength-training efforts might seem out of place in your business-casual environment, pretty much everyone recognizes that sitting all day can make you rather sore. So stand up and stretch your arms, legs, torso — whatever. You might just want to avoid doing a downward-facing dog.

8. Sitting on an Exercise Ball

Times change. It’s now acceptable to write “email” instead of “e-mail,” and similarly, I think the exercise-ball-as-chair has finally gained enough acceptance that you can bring one into your office and not worry about it being strange. Sitting on an exercise ball helps strengthen your core and keep your posture straight. It’s also fun.

9. Muscle Clenches

Your abs and butt are prime candidates for this. Clench the muscles for a period of several seconds, then release. Repeat again in sets of 10-15.

10. Maintaining Good Posture

I know — what kind of hacky suggestion is this? Posture isn’t an exercise! But if you normally have poor posture, actively maintaining a straight back will give your back muscles a serious workout.

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