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20 Desk Exercises That Help To Boost Employee Health

10 min read
Last Updated on 25 April, 2024

The human race has benefited significantly from various technological advancements in the 21st Century. But at the same time, we have overlooked the effects of technology on health :

One of the most common ways technology has affected health is by making our lives more sedentary. Most of us sit at a desk without any physical activity for hours at a stretch.

For corporate employees, prolonged sitting is part and parcel of their daily lives. Such sedentary behavior can cause many health ailments such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

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According to a study, people who sit all day have a 40% greater risk of dying . It is thus important to take essential steps to improve your health if you sit throughout the day.

Desk exercises do not require much time, and they will allow you to get fitter and stronger while on the job.

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What Are Desk Exercises?

As the name suggests, a desk exercise is an exercise that can be done while sitting at your desk.
They do not require any equipment and are great at improving health and productivity.

If you spend most of your time sitting at work, you might feel stiff, uncomfortable, and unproductive.

Trying out a few exercises will make you feel relaxed and boost your motivation to work.

Desk exercises help in blood circulation, build strength and prevent muscle stiffness. They not only improve fitness but boost endorphins and reduce stress.

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According to researchers -

  1. In each week, only one out of three adults does some physical activity.

  2. More than 28% of the age group 6 and older are physically active.

What Happens When Employees Work Continuously At Their Desks For Hours?

Employees can face work-related health disorders sitting all day at work. According to a study, sitting in the same position for long hours can cause musculoskeletal disorders.
Here are some health issues that can occur while sitting

  1. Back pain
  2. Obesity
  3. Fatigue
  4. Shoulder and neck pain
  5. Musculoskeletal disorders

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To avoid such disorders, stretching and moving between work can be helpful.

Note: Take deep breaths between stretches. Avoid holding your breath for too long.

Benefits of Desk Exercises

Serious complications can arise if you sit for long hours. Staying sedentary for too long can affect your health as well as your performance at work.

According to a Workplace Health Management study

  1. 60% of employees improved their mental performance, management skills when they performed desk exercises.

  2. 27% of physically active employees felt relaxed and less stressed out.

  3. More than 41% of employees felt motivated when they exercised at work.

As mentioned earlier, sitting for long periods at your desk can lead to some severe complications.

This is why you need to take out time for some midday exercises in the office.

Here are some of the top ten exercises you can do even while sitting down at your desk.

1. Wrist Stretches

Wrist exercises are mainly for those who work in front of the computers for long hours; Wrist stretches help relax the muscles. Wrist exercises are practical and help in reducing extreme muscle pain in the future.

Here are the steps:

  1. Lift your wrist and move around clockwise. Try doing it ten times (Clockwise) and ten times Anti-clockwise.
  2. You can stretch your arms and press the palms.
  3. Keep your water bottle as the weight and do wrist curl. Shake your hands to relax your muscles

2. Leg Raises By Sitting.

Employees can do leg raises without people getting them noticed.

Here are the steps :

  1. Sit on your chair and straighten up your legs. Make sure that legs are parallel to the floor.
  2. Hold it for 10 seconds.
  3. Do the same thing with your right leg.
  4. Repeat the exercise about 15 times.
  5. You can put a briefcase on your legs if you want to increase strength.

3. Chair Dips

Employees don't need equipment to do chair dips. The office chair is all that they need.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get on the edge of the chair, spread your legs so that they are placed in front of you.
  2. Grab the edge of the chair with both hands.
  3. Now go up and down, raise your body with the help of your hands. It will have an impact on the core muscles.
  4. Repeat this 15 times.
  5. Take a break for 10 mins and do two cycles of 15.

4. Neck And Shoulder Rotation

Sitting for hours can cause stiffness around your neck. Some moves will help you avoid headaches or neck pain. The movements are effortless and effective.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up and keep your hand near the hip and rotate your head. Do the same thing for your shoulder.
  2. Move clockwise and anti-clockwise and turn it ten times. If you feel any pain, stop it immediately.

5. Knee Exercise

If employees want to burn out good calories, they can stand up from the desk and move their knees back and forth as high as possible. Knee exercise is a quick way to warm up your body.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up from your desk and bring the knee as high as you can
  2. Repeat it 20 times and do three sets.

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6. Desk Push-Ups

These are great exercises for the upper body.

Here are the steps:

  1. Place the palms at the end of the desk and keep your feet away from the desk.
  2. Make sure that the whole body is inclined to keep some spaces.
  3. With the help of your palm, slowly move down towards the desk and then push yourself back and forth
  4. Repeat this ten times.

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7. Weights Using Bottle

Employees can take two water bottles and do different exercises like biceps curls, arms curls, and various style workouts at the desk.
Repeat it 30 times and try to do two sets for each exercise.

8. Tricep Workout

Employees who work continuously on computers, their arms get stiff. A tricep workout is an excellent way to relax and stretch your muscles.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up and then raise your arm, put your other arm, and bend it towards the opposite side.
  2. Hold it for 10- 15 seconds.
  3. Repeat it 15 times. Take breaks in between.

9. Arm Stretching

As we know, sitting in one position and computer work affects your arms. Stretching arms can prevent stiffness, improve posture and blood circulation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up at your desk and then put your arms sideways. Put your back straight.
  2. Now swing your arms backward and forward for 20 seconds, and do not bend your arms.
  3. Repeat this ten times.
  4. Do three sets.

10. Arm Rotation

Arms rotation is a good exercise for toning muscles in your shoulders and then arms. If done correctly, it will reduce the fat in your arms. You don't need equipment, but just a few moves will do.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand straight and keep your arms wide open ( 180 degrees)
  2. Now rotate clockwise for 10 seconds and anti-clockwise for 15 seconds
  3. Do two sets.

11. Torso Rotation

A strong core is vital for different movements and exercises. Torso rotation helps in building a powerful core. Let us learn how to do Torso rotation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up and put your hands on the hip firmly.
  2. Now rotate your hip smoothly.
  3. Repeat the same thing on the other side.
  4. Do three sets. Do not forget to take breaks.

12. Stretching Out Legs And Knees

Your legs need movement even if you sit for long hours. Otherwise, it will cause stiffness. The incorporation of stretching exercises will improve flexibility and reduce tightness.
Stretching out legs and knees is not a hardcore exercise. You don't have to run or do HIIT.

Here are the steps:

  1. Sit down on your chair and keep your legs in a position where they are straight touching the ground( slightly angled).
  2. Bring up your knee back and forth and hold it for 10 seconds.
  3. Do two sets.

13. Hamstring Stretch

Many people have tight hamstrings. When hamstrings are closed, it causes muscle strain. There are hamstring exercises that will improve hamstring flexibility.

Here are the steps:

  1. Sit on a chair and stretch out one leg outward.
  2. Try to reach your toes and hold them for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat it on the other side.

14. Wall Push-ups

Push-Ups are great exercises for your core muscles. It is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises to increase strength. You can target your arms, shoulders, chest, and back. Employees do not have to lay down and push their bodies back and forth.

Wall is all you need. It takes an excellent strength to do multiple reps continuously.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand Up, take a few steps from the wall and lean forward.
  2. Put your hands firmly on the wall and keep your abs tight.
  3. Push back until your arms are straight.
  4. Complete 15 reps

15. Calf Raises

Calf raises are easy exercises to start with. You can do these exercises anywhere without any equipment.
Even when you walk, a significant amount of strain is put on calves. Hence good conditioning of calves is required for solid legs.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up behind your chair and put your hand on the edge of the chair for support.
  2. Raise your heels and hold for 2 seconds and bring them down to the floor slowly
  3. Do a set of 15.

16. Wall Sits

Wall sit exercises are great exercises for building isometric strength and endurance in the glutes and calves. It is not a complicated exercise at all, as one has to sit correctly at a 90-degree angle (i.e., keeping your hips at 90 degrees), heels on the ground. Your back should stick against the wall.

Here are the steps:

  1. Bring your body close to the wall, slide your back down.
  2. Make sure to keep your knees together at 90- degrees.
  3. Hold it for 10-20 seconds and then release.
  4. Try it for ten reps.

17. Lunges

Lunges are popular training exercises to tone and strengthen legs. It is ideal for those who wish to improve their back, hips and improve athletic performance. With just simple steps, workers can improve their mobility and stability.

Here are the steps:

  1. Put one leg in front of the other. Your back should be straight.
  2. Gently lower the other leg and move slowly.
  3. Now move up smoothly.
  4. Repeat the same on each leg (10 times).

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18. Shoulder Stretch

Long working hours put shoulder muscles in pain. Tight and stiff shoulders can create discomfort and have an impact on a person's body movement. Shoulder stretches can reduce muscle tension and tightness in the neck and shoulders. Let us take a look at the steps, how workers incorporate shoulder stretches in their work schedule.

Here are the steps:

  1. Sit straight in a chair and bring your arms above the head.
  2. Push your arms and stretch.
  3. With every stretch, take 3-4 deep breaths.

19. Chest Stretch

Performing chest stretches will have a significant impact on your fitness routine. Now imagine if your chests are tight, it will decrease a person's range of motions and positive thinking. You will also have difficulty performing daily activities that involve lifting. Let us take a look at the steps on how to release tension in the muscles.

Here are the steps:

  1. Straighten up your back. Put your hands behind your lower back.
  2. Now, push your chest outward and make sure to raise your chin.
  3. Take deep 3-4 deep breaths.
  4. Repeat it ten times.

20. Upper Back Stretch

As mentioned a couple of times, continuous sitting in the office will lead to back pain, neck strain, and poor circulation. Incorporating stretchings of the upper back and arms should be a part of a wellness routine. Upper back stretches are simple and can be done anywhere where you find yourself seated.

Here are the steps:

  1. Hold your arms straight, keeping your palms down.
  2. Now, bring both the arms up slowly, keeping it 90 degrees.
  3. Hold it for like 2-3 seconds and take deep breaths.
  4. Repeat it the same for ten times.

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Do You Need Desk Exercise Equipment?

Employees can do the above exercises, but employees can buy desk exercise equipment if they want their bodies in top form.

Let us take a look:

1. Yoga Ball

Sitting for long hours can cause back pain and ruin your mood. Keeping a Yoga Ball is a good option. The size of the ball shouldn't be too big and must be the right one for the employees. The knees should be placed in the perfect positions and spine too.

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2. Resistance Bands And Small Weights

Bringing all the gym equipment doesn't make any sense. Keeping a few essentials on the desk will surely help, like the Resistant band and weights are good options.
Resistance bands and small weights can be used for arms and bring flexibility to the body.


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3. A Convertible desk

A convertible desk allows the employee to sit correctly, keeping the back straight instead of slouching for at least two hours a day.

Plan Your Workout Routine

At work, it is not possible to work out for three hours. In such cases, performing desk exercises is a great way to start. You only have to give 15- 30 minutes to reap all the benefits.


Employee health is concerning nowadays because workers do not get enough time to exercise. After office, workers are exhausted due to long hectic work.

They don't have the eagerness to hit the gym or work out on their own. When reaching home, you would want to ease up, grab some snacks and lie on your bed.
Hence, desk exercises made it easier for employees to relax their muscles and improve mental well being.

Steps are simple, and employees need little body movement to do the desk exercises. They can be done between conferences and meetings and don't take much time.

If you have found more ways to keep yourself fit during working hours, we would like to hear from you!!

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While doing desk exercises, make sure to keep variations. Include as many activities as you can in your routine.

This article is written by Anangsha Alomyan who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. Apart from writing, Anangsha plays the piano, acts, raps and does photography. Since childhood, she has been into sports and brought laurels across the country. An adventurer by heart, she loves to explore new routes across the Himalayas. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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