5 Ways You Can Tone and Stretch at Your Desk

Nearly 50% of American adults don’t get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Cluttered personal lives and work schedules are often to blame for our overly sedentary lifestyles. “We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day,” Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book, told WebMD.

Give these easy moves a try to keep your body fit and strengthened during a day at the office.

Source: iStock

1. Abs

One frequently recommended way to work your abs in the office is to replace your traditional work chair with a stability ball. Livestrong points out that balancing on the ball requires the engagement of your abdominal muscles. It’s a non-intensive workout that exercisers can maintain for minutes or even hours at a time.

Another discreet move to work your core can be found in Pop Sugar’s Ab Lift exercise. Just place your hands at the base of your seat and press down into your palms, keeping your knees bent. Using this pressure, lift your bottom off the seat and raise your knees as high as you can for an added challenge. Hover in this position for several seconds (or as long as you can), then release. Repeat two to four times.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Legs

Work your legs without leaving the chair by trying Forbes’s “Wooden Leg” move. Start by sitting in your chair and extending one leg straight out in front of you. Hold here for two seconds. Next, raise the leg up as high as you can; hold again for two seconds. Repeat 15 times for each leg.

Alternately, you could hop out of your seat and try the Washington Post’s recommendation: the Side Lunge. Stand up straight, then take a big step to one side. Point your toes forward and bend one knee while keeping the other straight. Push back up. Perform this move 10 times on each side.

To supplement these quad-working exercises, Fitness offers a Leg Curl and Press to get your butt and hamstrings moving. Sit up straight on the left edge of your seat, engaging your abs. Then, bend your left knee back behind you (at a 90-degree angle, so that calf is beside the chair and parallel to floor). Holding the sides of your chair, curl left heel up toward seat. Do five reps. Holding the curl, press leg back five times. Repeat circuit for both legs.

Source: iStock

3. Arms

Desk Pushups are a simple way to work those arms without leaving your workspace. Simply stand up and place your hands on the edge of the desk, shoulder-width apart. Move legs out behind you and push off the desk with as much force as you can, explains the Washington Post. Perform 10 reps.

Fitness Magazine’s Straight-Arm Squeeze will get your shoulders, triceps, and back in tip-top shape. Just sit on the edge of your chair with feet and legs together. Engage your abs and extend arms behind you, palms facing inward. Squeeze your arms against the back of the chair, then release. Perform 10 reps. On the final squeeze, move arms up and down about an inch. Perform 10 reps.

Military.com offers a slew of office-friendly workouts, one of which is a simple Dumbbell Curl that can be performed during any routine phone calls or other simple tasks. Keep a light-to-medium-sized dumbbell under your desk for just such an occasion. Raise dumbbell in one hand, rotating forearm until it is vertical and your palm faces your shoulder. Lower to original position and perform 20 repetitions with each arm.

Source: iStock

4. Cardio/full body

As any fitness enthusiast knows, strengthening moves alone won’t cut it! Get your full body working with WebMD’s heart-pumping suggestions: one minute of Jumping Jacks. It may not sound like much, but you’ll work up a sweat in seconds. Alternately, you can try running in place for a minute.

Your typical workday may not exactly have you jumping for joy, but Greatist recommends giving this Split Squat Jump a try anyway. Stand with feet hip-width apart, then step left leg back two feet and balance on the ball of your foot. Lower into a lunge, then accelerate yourself upwards into the air. In the air, switch feet so that left foot is planted in front when you land, while right leg is behind. Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side.

As a general rule, try to take the stairs when moving from floor to floor — especially if you work in a larger office complex. Those calories all add up!

Source: iStock

5. Stretches

Hunching over a desk for hours at a time is a leading cause of back pain among adults, reports Health. Try Lifehack’s simple strain-busting move to avoid similar issues: Reach arms behind you and interlock fingers. Lift arms behind your back to comfortably expand your chest and shoulders.

To quell any soreness in the arms, the Mayo Clinic recommends a simple upper arm and shoulder stretch: Lift one arm and place it behind your head, placing your other arm on its bent elbow. Hold stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat with other arm.

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic suggests working your thighs with a simple standing stretch. Place a hand in front of you on desk or chair for stability. Grab one of your ankles and bring it up toward your buttock, maintaining an upright position. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then release. Repeat with other leg.

More from Life Cheat Sheet: