Desk Exercises: How to Keep Fit in the Office

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Got an office desk? You got a gym.

But, seriously, if you want to stay fit at work, you don’t need a gym membership. Your desk and chair will do.

This is a good thing since the long hours we spend at work are stopping many of us from getting the exercise we really need. The Australian government’s Department of Health reports that 55% of Australian adults aren’t getting enough exercise each week. On top of that, around 44% of adults spend most of their day sitting down. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to long-term health.

But the thing is that there are a lot of office exercises you can do to get the blood flowing, build up some fitness, and work out the stress. So, check out our guide below on how to undertake an office workout.

Freestanding Exercises

First things first, you don’t need a particular chair or desk to do effective desk exercises when you’re at work. There are a number of simple body-weight exercises you can do while standing or sitting on the ground.


Squats are one of the very best exercises to do because they engage your biggest muscles: your legs and your core. Since you are using your biggest muscles, you will be able to get your heart rate up more easily. This means you will be making a greater contribution to your fitness, and it also means that you will get a bigger kick of endorphins.

The essential thing to remember about squats is that technique is non-negotiable:

  • Feet shoulder-width apart
  • Engage your core to keep your back straight
  • Keep your shins at right angles with the ground
  • Squat down to 45 degrees


Much like squats, pushups are good because they engage a lot of muscles, particularly your chest, core, and arms.

Make sure you do your pushups slowly, so that you are properly engaging your muscles, rather than using momentum to bounce up and down. If you can’t do complete normal pushups or you can’t do that many, you can take off some of the weight by doing them with your knees on the ground or against the wall in a standing position.


If you find squats and pushups a bit difficult, lunges can be a slightly easier option. A lunge engages your legs and core, but the distribution of weight makes it more manageable.

Simply take one large step forward and lower your body just until your back knee is almost touching the floor. Then switch legs. Ten on each side is a good place to start!

Chair Exercises

Chairs are a great asset for desk exercises, particularly because they allow you to exercise while you are actually working. Here are some great desk workout moves you can do in your chair.

Leg Raises

You can do a leg raise in your chair by sitting with a straight back and slowly raising your leg upwards until it is parallel with the ground. If done slowly, this exercise will really work on your upper leg and your core.


You can also use your chair as a dips machine. This means you stand up, plant your hands on the front of your chair, slowly lower yourself to the ground, and then lift yourself back up again.

This movement will give you a nice burn through your tricep region, and it will also work on your core at the same time.

Swivel-Chair Pushups

If you want to make your pushups a bit more fun, you can perform them on a swivel chair. The great thing about swivel-chair pushups is the seat will swivel when you go down into your pushup position. This instability will force your body to compensate by engaging your core more.

Supportive Furniture

You can do a desk workout to stay fit at work, but it’s important to make sure that when you are sitting at your desk you are also being good to your body. By this, we mean using furniture that actually supports your muscles and alleviates the pain of sitting.

Modern furniture options include standing desks and kneeling chairs. But simply using good quality ergonomic chairs and desks can ensure that you are giving your muscles the support they need to keep you in good posture.

Up and About

It’s also important to remember that no matter how supportive your furniture is, it’s still critical that you get up out of your chair from time to time to stretch your legs. This might mean just doing a lap of the office or going outside to grab a coffee. Doing this will give your muscles a break, get the blood flowing, and refresh your mind to come back stronger!


Innovation, Work-life, Flexible Workspaces
22 June 2021

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