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16 Workplace-Friendly Exercises To Keep You In Shape

Holding down a full-time job in an office environment can make it difficult for you to get in a healthy amount of exercise each day. Your time in the early morning is probably just reserved for showering, dressing and commuting, while your after-work hours involve commitments to your household, family or friends.

If you are searching for ways to integrate physical exercise into your workday in a manner that is convenient, unobtrusive and even enjoyable, then look no further. These 16 work-friendly exercises cover all of your major muscle groups and can be adapted as needed according to space and time availability while you are on the clock.

1. Squeeze Your Abdominal And Gluteal Muscles

Just because you’re stuck at your desk chair working on a project, it doesn’t mean that you can’t tone and strengthen your abs and glutes at the same time. Sit with your feet on the floor, and then clench your rear muscles while holding in your stomach. Keep the pose for 15 seconds, release, and repeat.

2. Opt For Walking Up And Down Staircases Whenever Possible

If you work in a multi-level building, you most likely take the elevator or escalator out of habit. However, opting to use the stairs instead can help you to burn extra calories and elevate your heart rate. Start incorporating some brisk walks up and down flights of stairs into your daily routine.

3. Use A Stress Ball To Work Your Hand And Arm Muscles

Bring a hand-held stress ball to work, and you not only have an outlet for relieving any frustrations, but also have a useful tool for exercising your arms and hands. Squeeze your stress ball tightly, engaging your hand and forearm muscles, release after 10 seconds, and then switch the ball to your other hand.

4. Try Some Calf Raises While You’re On Your Feet During The Day

When you find yourself standing during the work day, such as when you’re in line at the cafeteria, printer or restroom, take the opportunity to build some calf muscle. Rise up on your tiptoes while contracting your calves, and then slowly lower yourself back to the ground. Aim to do as many reps as possible.

5. Raise And Lower Your Body While In Your Office Chair

If you want more intense muscle building while you exercise at your desk, all you need is a stationary office chair with arms. Grasp the arms of the chair, and slowly raise your body out of the seat as high as you can go with your feet on the ground. Lower yourself and repeat.

6. Do Leg Lifts Underneath Your Desk

Strengthen your legs without having to walk away from your work with this simple leg lift exercise. Using one leg at a time, lift your foot off the ground and extend your leg straight outward, then lift that leg until it reaches the underside of your desk. Hold each rep for 10 seconds.

7. Take Advantage Of Breaks By Power Walking

Use part of your lunch or coffee break to take a quick power walk around the office building or parking lot. Make sure to switch into comfortable running shoes, and remember to pump your arms as you walk so as to raise your heart rate and burn some extra energy.

8. Plan To Stretch Your Arms, Legs And Back Periodically

In addition to toning your muscles as you are seated at work, you should also find some free moments here and there to leave your chair and stretch your limbs and back. Walk around the office floor to increase blood circulation, and do exercises such as arm extensions, back arches and touching your toes.

9. Engage In Brief Spurts Of Aerobic Activity During Downtime

Brief but intense bursts of aerobic exercise are beneficial to your fitness goals, so if the opportunity arises at work, spend several minutes engaging in high-energy movements. Do 25 jumping jacks, or march in place while raising your knees as close to waist level as you can.

10. Brace Yourself On The Wall To Do Squats And Lunges

Squats and lunges are also exercises that you can do while waiting in line at your workplace, provided that you have a wall nearby for support. Hold onto the wall with one hand, and work your leg and gluteal muscles by alternating front-leg lunges with squats, as intensely as you are able.

11. Get A Burst Of Energy With Desk Push-Ups

If you are a fan of doing push-ups, you can perform a modified version of this exercise at work with help from your desk top. Grab onto your desk tightly with both hands, extend your legs straight behind you while balancing on your toes, and then use your arms to raise and lower your body.

12. Engage In Some Subtle Yoga Postures

Yoga can help to strengthen your body’s core as well as keep your muscles toned, limber and fit. Although the workplace is not ideal for complicated yoga poses, try sitting at your desk in a simple cross-legged pose (sukhasana position) or a more advanced lotus pose (padmasana position).

13. Work Your Arms With Bicep And Tricep Curls

Strive to keep your arms strong and toned by doing a series of bicep and tricep curls on your work breaks. Make a fist, put your arms at your sides, and curl your lower arms toward your upper arms. In your next set of reps, keep your upper arms parallel to your shoulders while raising your lower arms upward.

14. Stretch Your Neck And Rotate Your Shoulders

If you tend to sit in a hunched position while tapping away at your work computer, your neck and shoulders could definitely benefit from some good stretches. Work your neck muscles by pulling your shoulders downward and moving your head to each side. Rotate your shoulders in a circular motion to loosen up the corresponding muscles.

15. Keep Your Wrists And Fingers From Cramping With Targeted Stretches

Cramped, aching fingers and stiff, painful wrists are an unfortunate side effect of many desk jobs. Help to keep yours tension-free by doing a series of small targeted stretches throughout the day. Lift one finger at a time off your desk, roll your wrists, and gently bend your hands backward and forward.

16. Remember To Do Some Deep Breathing

Pin ItDeep breathing keeps your muscles oxygenated as you exercise, so do not forget to integrate this into your workplace exercise routine. Inhale and then exhale for a count of four each.

If you are fortunate enough to work in a more casual and flexible environment, you can have even more fun coming up with creative ways to exercise. Depending on the individual policies of your workplace, you may be able to access a treadmill or stationary bike within your building, swap out your desk chair for an exercise ball or use water bottles as an alternative to weights. Whatever your situation, be sure to exercise at work regularly, and you will be on your way to great results!

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Katherine Hurst
By Shauna Walker
Personal trainer, fitness coach and wellness expert for over twenty years. Shauna is able to connect personally with her clients because I faced my own wellness challenges at a young age. She started her personal journey towards feeling fit and healthy twenty years ago, and has never looked back. Once struggling with her weight, she also had confidence issues and found it hard to stick with diet and exercise. Shauna managed to break free of this struggle, and now wants to give back and share the lessons she has learned.

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