10 desk exercises and activities to keep fit at the office


On average, office workers spend around 8 hours per day sat at a desk. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to revisit how they operate, with many turning to technology to deliver products and services. Inevitably, this will be requiring staff to undertake more computer-based duties. 

Therefore, many employees are now spending more time than ever before… sitting.

As administrative roles are often sedentary, we have compiled a collection of our favourite desk exercises and office activities to help mobilise and invigorate you!


1. Cycle or walk to work

Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a desk-buster but ditching the tube or the cab, and opting to walk or cycle to work instead, is still great for your cardiovascular system. Getting the blood pumping before and after work can help boost your mood, support weight loss, increase brain function and productivity, and also improve sleep quality. Our London offices are also equipped with shower facilities to freshen up, as well as safe storage areas for bikes or walking boots.


2. Desk chair squats

Why not complete some desk chair ‘squats’ and fire up the glute muscles? Simply stand up, keeping your weight in your heels, then lower back down until you just make contact, before standing again. Repeat 10 x. Top tips for squats:

  • Don’t let your knees collapse inward
  • Keep your back straight and your chest high
  • Avoid if you suffer from knee pain 


3. Oblique chair twists

Get that core fired up and switched on with this swivel-chair exclusive exercise. Hold the edge of your desk with both hands, lift your feet off the floor, and use your abdominal muscles to rotate the chair from left to right. Be sure to use your hands for stability and not for leverage. No cheating!


4. Upper body stretch

Low impact, but a great way to restart the body and stretch out stiff joints and muscles after long periods spent sitting still. Extending the arms and clasping the hands, either over head or behind your back, can help alleviate tense shoulder and chest muscles. You can also gently rotate the head from left to right to loosen up the neck.


5. Clenches

The silent assassin of glute exercises! The simple clenching and releasing of the buttocks can be more challenging that you think. Additionally, this exercise is discreet, and will go virtually undetected by others within your coworking space.


6. Wall exercises

If you don’t mind an audience, there are even some exercises that require just a wall and your own body weight:

Wall sit – press your back flat against a wall in a seated position, keep your legs at a 90 degree angle, and knees in line with your feet. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds, and repeat.

Wall press ups – place your palms against the wall at chest height then, keeping your body straight from toes to nose, lean your chest towards the wall and push away. Try 3 x 10 reps.


7. Leg-raise variations

Whether extended, bent, from seated, or even standing, leg raises in their various forms are great for activating the core and glute muscles. They are also great for circulation, encouraging blood flow after long periods of sitting.


8. Use a desk bike

If commuting to your shared office space is not an option, then an under-desk bike is a great plan B. From simple belt systems to high-tech digital models, there are many makes available. Take a look at some reviews to see which one works for your activity goals.


9. Move together 

Having a common goal, and making exercise a shared challenge, can be motivating and help you stay committed. So, why not get your colleagues, or fellow office sharers, involved too? You could try:

  • Arranging group walks/jogs/yoga during your lunch break
  • Setting mini challenges each day. Last place makes the coffees
  • Setting long-term weight loss or fitness challenges
  • Hosting a lunchtime quiz, with a sit down/stand up answer system
  • Signing up to a charity challenge as a team, and train as a group


10. Rest your mind

Physical activity can boost circulation, support better sleeping habits, put us in a better mood, and improve our cardiovascular health. However, our mental health is important too. While our bodies may be sedate when sat at our desks, our brains are often working overtime. So, it can be just as beneficial to take a little time out to relax and rest your mind. Options to help you reset could include:

  • Meditation or yoga
  • Reading or crosswords
  • Listening to music
  • An audio book or podcast
  • Taking a ‘power nap’
  • Practicing breath work
  • Taking a quiet walk


And if all else fails, just take 5 minutes

These exercises and activities are sure to keep your body and mind active during a busy day at the office. However, if time is not your friend, just remember to allow yourself an occasional 5 minutes away from your desk. You could pop to the kitchen for a drink, head to the window and appreciate the view, or even take a quick lap of the office. Even brief breaks, to get up and about, can help you to keep more mobile and limber. So, get your body moving, and help keep desk-related stiffness at bay. Because, when we take care of ourselves, we are far more equipped to help others!


“When you stimulate your body your mind comes alive in ways you can’t simulate in a sedentary position” Twyla Tharp, American Dancer


Category: Mezzanine