Sitting Exercises: Staying Fit at Work

sitting exercises

Looking for Some Simple Sitting Exercises?

For the office workers out there (which is a heck of a lot of us), you’re constantly sitting working away. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes that can have negative health effects. From belly bulge to tight muscles, we need some easy workouts and ways to get up and get active while at work for 8+ hours! Read up on these exclusive sitting exercises!

Stay healthy at the office with these sitting exercises

The countless hours behind the desk can do some serious posture damage as Jim Burdumy, Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach and A.C.E Personal Trainer at Elite Core Fitness explained, “One of the biggest challenges to sitting that long is keeping good posture unless your work station is ergonomically correct.

When we sit with poor posture our body is in a state of flexion, which means that our shoulders, neck, chest, hip flexors, etc. become shortened and tight.”

A fun way to promote good posture and movement in the workplace is to sit on a stability ball as opposed to a traditional office chair.

“There are many stretches/exercises you can try while sitting on a ball, not to mention the fact that you have the option to move around on it and promote blood flow while working,” he said. Burdumy offered a few other great ways to stay flexible at work:

Office Stretches

Neck Stretches

The first thing I would recommend is to ensure your neck is properly stretched, as this is a problem area for many people and is usually tight due to stress. To start you can do “Clock Rotations” with your head. That’s where you start with your head slightly back and begin by rotating your head from the left to the right in a circular motion as if your head were hands moving around the face of a clock.

Notice if there are any points throughout your rotations where you feel extra tight. Then correlate those points to the time position on the clock.

Sitting Exercises Staying Fit at WorkFor example, if I feel a lot of tightness when my head is rotated down and slightly to the right then I would say I am extra tight at “7:00”. Jot down those “times” and use them later as a reference to your problem areas. This will save you time and allow you to work on the areas that need the most attention.

Hip Stretches

Start by sitting on the edge of your chair so only your left leg can hang off the side of the chair. Sit up straight with good posture and push your left leg back behind you with your knee bent so you feel a stretch in your left thigh and hip.

This is a great way to stretch the legs and hips while sitting. Repeat on the other side and notice which side feels tighter. Stretch the tighter side 1-2 times more than the other.

Office Exercises:

Apart from staying limber, you may also be looking for ways to burn a few extra calories while sitting there typing away on TPS reports… That’s where the health advice from Thea Murphy, a Plus Trainer at DavidBartonGym Christopher St., comes into play. She provided us with some simply effective office exercises (both standing and sitting) anyone can implement:

1. Leg lifts

While seated, straighten both legs and hold them in place for five seconds. Then lower your legs back to the ground without letting your feet touch the floor. Repeat 15-20 times

2. Flutter kicks

While seated at the edge of the chair, straighten out both legs and alternate straight leg kicks 12″ off the floor for 30 seconds.

3. Desk squats

Start by standing with feet together (make sure the desk chair is secure and will not move). Bend the knees slightly pushing hips back towards the chair, as you bend, raise your arms straight out in front of you. Keep the knees together and aligned. Lower yourself to the chair. Repeat 15-20 times

4. Arm pumps

While seated, push both arms over your head for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Rest 15 seconds and repeat 3 times.

5. Chair dips

First, make sure the chair is secure! Place both hands on the arms of the chair and slowly lift yourself off the chair. Then lower yourself back down. Repeat 10-15 times.

6. Toe touches

Start by standing with feet together, extend both your arms straight above your head. Engage your abs by pulling your stomach in and holding. Bending at your hips, reach down to your toes keeping your back and legs straight. Stand back up and repeat 15-20 times.

7. Calf raises

Stand in front of your desk (holding on if needed). Raise both of your heels off of the floor and back down. Repeat 15-20 times.

8. Standing crunches

Start by standing with feet apart and both hands placed behind your head. In one motion raise one knee and twist the torso in a crunching motion to bring the opposite knee and elbow together. Alternate between left and right. Repeat 20 times.

Office Equipment:

If you are looking to take your office workouts up a notch (or are just into the latest and greatest tech) Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse from New York and founder of the natural health resource,, had a few tools to try:

Sitting Exercises Staying Fit at Work ToolsOffice Stepping Device

An office stepping device easily slides under the desk and can stay hidden. It is inexpensive, near-silent, and can be used while sitting. The device replicates exercise movements similar to walking. One study shows that a stepping device can cause a weight loss of up to 44 pounds per year if sitting is replaced for just 2 hours each day.

It also found that office-place stepping and cycling increase worker’s energy levels more than walking does.

Standing Desk & Walk-and-Work

A lot of companies are now switching to standing stations where desks are elevated to a standing height. Studies show that 2 hours of sitting time that is replaced by cycling, walking, or stopping at a desk, could increase energy expenditure by 100 kcal/hour.

It could also cause a weight loss of 44-66 pounds per year. There are inexpensive standing desks, desk steppers, ellipticals, and treadmills that are available.

Bring in the Weights

Burdumy recommends bringing in your own dumbbells. If you are really serious about doing some exercises at your desk you can always bring in some dumbbells (light or heavy). You can do exercises such as an overhead shoulder press, bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral shoulder raises, and more.

This isn’t a bad idea because you would only have to bring the dumbbells one time and leave them at your desk and they travel easy enough in a heavy-duty duffel bag.

Bonus Tips: Tools to a Healthier Work Environment:

Finally,  Murphy offered us some great overall tips to make sure you are staying healthy at the office! From nutrition to hydration she broke it down:

1. Pack a lunch and healthy snacks, this will limit eating lunch out and temptations in the break room. Not to mention saving money!

2. Take the stairs and avoid the elevator wait. Every step counts.

3. Water! Most times when people snack or feel hungry they really are dehydrated. Stay hydrated and stay healthy.

4. Don’t sit the entire lunch, get up and move!

5. Watch your posture, proper posture can limit back and neck pain while sitting at your desk.

6. And as always practice good hygiene. You can not stay active and fit if you are sick!


Well, there you have it!

These are some of best sitting exercises, stretches and simple tips to help you stay healthy at work!

So the next time you are bored at work, got a few minutes before the meeting, or simply feel like getting up and active, remember these simple sitting exercises!

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Josh is the founder of DIY Active - your at home fitness source! He enjoys blending the latest science and expert advice with health practices to help you exercise smarter at home!
Josh Anderson
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