Thursday, January 30, 2014

Workout at Work ~ 12 Easy, No Sweat Moves

I just stumbled onto something I think is fantastic.  Exercise at your desk.  12 simple , yet effective moves to get you moving when you're usually sitting.

It may seem like the reps and sets are a bit much for your workplace, but they really only take a few minutes each.  I break them up into mini sets.  I figure something is better than nothing.  I have had a few eyebrow-raising stares and I just encourage them to join me.  

If you are unable to perform any of these moves at work how about doing them at home? Maybe while visiting your favorite blogs, or checking up on your friends on facebook, or even while writing your blog. 

No, these exercises won't take the place of a traditional cardio, strength and stretching plan. They will ease someone who hasn't consistently worked out into moving their body, burning a few calories and toning up.  Also what a nice addition for those who do work out regularly.  

Practice these moves at your own pace and you'll begin to feel your muscles responding. 

Good times!  Why not give it a whirl?

12 Simple Workplace Workouts
Ready to find a more active workday routine? We can help!
by Judith Sherman-Wolin, ACSM H/FS, NSCA-CPT

So you know being inactive isn't good for you. But what can you do about it at work? Below are 12 simple exercises you can easily fit into your workday routine. The only requirement is that you get up and do them. Regularly and consistently.

If you're afraid of funny looks, just remember that your co-workers are in the same boat, or more accurately "seat." You might encourage them to get up and join you!

1. Stand Ups — Sit Downs
These are good to start with since they're so simple. Try to do them fast enough to increase your heart rate.

While at your desk, do a set of stand up and sit-downs.
  • Stand up in front of your chair.
  • Feet about shoulder width apart.
  • Abdominals contract.
  • Lower yourself back down into your desk chair.
  • Stand up immediately and repeat.

Healthy Bonus: add some resistance! Grab a dictionary or other weighty object (maybe your company's annual report!) and hold it in your hands while you're doing them.

Reps: 10–20
Sets: 1–3
Frequency: three times a day.
Muscles: Quads (the front muscles of your legs); extensors (your gluteus muscles).

2. Desk–Ups
They're push-ups, against your desk! Don't do this exercise if your desk is on rollers or unstable.

  • Clear a space on your desk.
  • Place your hands firmly against the edge of your desk.
  • Lower your body down leading with chest. Don't drop your head.
  • Keep your spine and head aligned. Contract your abdominals the entire time.
  • Do 10 to 15 or as many as you can without losing your form.

Sets: 1–3
Frequency: three times a week.

3. Wall Sits
Get up out of your chair and go sit against the wall instead. Seriously! Sounds easy, but it's not!

  • Press your spine against a wall.
  • Now squat down to the same position you'd be in as if you were sitting in chair.
  • Stay flat against the wall.
  • Hold the squat — sit position for as long as you can — 30 seconds or more is ideal.
  • Increase the length of time you hold the sit as you gain strength. You are working the powerful muscles of your legs in this position — and your core too.

Rep: One Wall Sit 
Hold: from 30 seconds plus
Frequency: Once a day

4. Wall Push-ups
Okay, now that you've made friends with your wall, let's use it for another exercise.

  • Turn around and face the wall.
  • Place your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart. Fingers are pointing up toward the ceiling.
  • Contract your abdominals and slowly move toward the wall leading with your chest and then push back to beginning position.
  • Wall push-ups work your chest, arms and core. They're winners.

Reps: 10–20
Sets: 1–3
Frequency: Everyday

5. Leg Extensions
On a conference call? Here's something you can do while listening and/or talking. Leg extensions. They're simple and they stimulate blood flow to the lower part of your body.

  • Sit tall in your chair, don't lean against the back.
  • Slowly extend your right foot forward so your leg is parallel to the floor, then slowly bring it back down but don't let your foot touch the ground.
  • Lift it right back up again to the extended position.
  • Do 10-12 repetitions on the same leg, then switch legs.
  • You can also do these while standing, holding onto your desk — or to improve balance, hold your arms out in front of you.

Reps: 10–20
Sets: 1–3
Frequency: Everyday

6. Hamstring Curls
This exercise works the muscles in the back of your legs.

  • Hold on to your desk chair, facing the chair.
  • Extend one leg back till you feel a contraction in your glute muscle (your behind).
  • Bring (curl) the heel of your foot toward your behind.
  • Release it back down to starting position without allowing your foot to touch the floor.
  • Do 10-15 reps, and then switch legs.

Reps: 10–15
Sets: 1–3
Frequency: Every day

7. Calf Flexion and Extension
This exercise works the lower part of your leg, your calf and ankle.

  • Lift up one leg out in front of you.
  • Point and flex your foot as hard as possible.
  • Do 10-12 repetitions then switch legs.
  • You will feel a good, strong stretch in the back of your leg.
  • This exercise can be done while seated or you can do it standing — if you haven't had a lot of excuses to get out of your chair so far during the day, try standing up to do this.

Reps: 10–20
Sets: 1–3
Frequency: three times a day.

8. The 55/5 Ratio
Here's an easy one. After sitting in your chair for 55 minutes, get up and walk around for five minutes.

  • If you have a stairwell nearby, walk up and down it a few times.
  • If you tend to become intensely involved with your work — set a timer for yourself so you'll be alerted it's time to "get up and take a walk."
  • If you're the group leader type, grab some colleagues and bring them along! A nice non-coffee break for everyone.

9. Upper Body Stretch
This stretch is especially important if you have tension in your upper back.

  • Standing or seated, lift your arms over your head.
  • Grab your right wrist with your left hand then pull your torso to the left.
  • You will feel an excellent stretch in your ribs, your upper back and across the back part of your arm.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and then switch to the other side.
  • Don't forget to sit up tall, abdominals contracted while you're doing this tension-relieving stretch!

Reps: 1–5
Frequency: every hour or two

10. Lower Body Stretch
This releases tension both in your lower back and behind your leg.

  • While seated in your desk chair, cross your left leg over your right
  • Bend forward, letting your hands drop to the ground.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.
  • Switch legs.

Reps: 1–3
Frequency: two or three times a day.

11. Shoulder Rolls
Do you spend a lot of time hunched up in front of your computer? Then is exercise is a must to release tension in your neck.

  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  • Elevate your shoulders towards your ears.
  • Roll them back so you are squeezing your should blades together.
  • Do one set of 10 repetitions then reverse the action so your shoulders are moving toward the front.

Reps: 10
Frequency: three times a day.

12. Low Back and Hamstring Stretch
Get up off your chair — you can DO it!! This is one of the best stretches you can treat yourself too. Relieves tension as it increases your blood flow.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a big inhale, raise your arms above your head.
  • As you exhale, slowly drop forward reaching for the ground with your fingertips.
  • Stay in the forward flexion position for about 15 seconds
  • Return to upright position slowly, your head should be the last thing to come up.

You will feel a great stretch in you lower back and the top part of the back of your legs (hamstrings.)

Hold: 15–30 seconds
Sets: 3–5
Frequency: two or three times a day.
And now you can get back to work!
Judith Sherman-Wolin, ACSM H/FI, NSCA-CPT, is a health fitness practitioner, educator, journalist and fitness activist. She is the exercise specialist at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and is a contributor to MSNBC Health and Fitness Magazine. Her book Smart Girls Do Dumbbells is available from Riverhead Books. Go to for more information. 

What do you think?  Are you willing to get up and Move?


  1. I think the laughter that would occur if I did these in front of my coworkers at my cube would be enough of a workout for everyone :)

    1. That's funny Kate, But, you know laughing is a great ab workout. So yes, everyone would have great abs and you would have an amazing body too! The model is a bit fusty, but we can't all be super models. ;)

  2. Hey---these are great!!! I am at the computer for so many hours of the day and I get sore. I want to try these!

    1. Atta girl Marcia. It can only be good for you. Let me know how it goes.

  3. Great post. I love your blog so much! Have a great day :)


    1. Thank you so much that is a lovely thing to say to me Mihalea. It means a lot that you continue to visit.


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