Walking. Reaching. Sitting. Standing. Leaning. Turning to look. Picking up a baby. Raising arms to put on a shirt. It all requires that our musculoskeletal system be healthy, strong...fit. This is functional fitness, and none of it requires a gym membership, a 7-day-a-week rigid training schedule, a hard body, nor even much interest in exercise.
We all feel “stuck” at our desks day in and day out, and lament how it’s a contributor to missing our fitness goals. But, there’s really nothing stopping you from feeling the burn while you’re at work. (Unless your office is freezing and then the exercise has double benefit as it warms you up!)
While no one wants to get sweaty before defending a budget report, these 26 desk-friendly exercises can actually be done in your work clothes and no one will have any idea you’ve been logging steps and burning calories. In fact, every one of these moves can be done in whatever it is you wear to work.
It’s one of the reasons we made the ENELL Lite...a supportive everyday and sports bra that pulls double duty under many styles of clothes whether you're at work or at the gym. If you do decide to take the stairs or throw some shadow boxing punches, your tatas are going to stay securely, discreetly, and comfortably where they’re supposed to!
26 Workouts You Can Do in Your Work Clothes
Take the Stairs
Climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t log any steps in your tracker, but bounding up down a couple of levels as opposed to riding the elevator will. It’s easy cardio you can grab a few times each day.
Lean in to Pushups
Drop to the floor and give 20 for a classic pushup, or use your desk or the wall for a modified version that requires just as much power from your upper body. Try a few reps when you start feeling tense and tight.
Dip the Triceps
Your rolling desk chair is an injury hazard, but a stationary chair, sofa, bench, or stair will offer solid support for this squat variation. Pump out of a few of these while you’re waiting for that one guy to join the call.
Stop and take a plank break to build endurance, strength, and develop your core. Dr. Kathryn Schmitz encourages her research team to take this daily “exercise snack,” even in slacks.
Sit on the Wall
… and listen to Dancing on the Ceiling if it helps keep you motivated. Ditch the heels then stand flat against the wall, feet planted shoulder-width apart, and slide down until your “seated” while standing in a 90-degree angle.
Waiting on a fresh pot of coffee or the copier? Using a standing desk? From a flat foot position, push into the balls of your feet and raise your heels off the ground, lower slowly, repeat.
Stand at Your Desk
Standing desks are implicitly more “physical” than the standard. There’s more natural movement and mobility than sitting. In fact, the first study of its kind found that desk standers burned 174 more calories compared to an equal amount of time spent sitting.
Have a Ball
If you are sitting at your desk, ditch the four-legged seat for a stability ball. Sitting on a ball is so beneficial to developing and maintaining core strength, posture, balance, and provides some passive calorie burn.
Walk This Way
And then this way, and then back that way. Pacing during phone calls keeps your heart rate slightly elevated and can help you rack up your count toward that revised daily goal of about 5,000 steps per day.
Do the Heavy Lifting
Keep a pair of 3-5 pound dumbbells in your desk to keep yourself moving during long calls. While seated, you can do triceps extensions, wrist curls, lat raises, shoulder press, and more.
Stretch the Shoulders
Slouching at your desk definitely has you down. Take one whole minute to stretch out your shoulders by pulling the left arm across the chest. With the arm slightly bent, use the right arm to hold it in place for about 30 seconds. Then repeat on the right.
Run the Place
Got the 3 pm haze brain? While seated at your desk, fire the engines in your legs and start running...just don’t go anywhere. It’s a positive calorie burn and cardio boost when the real thing isn’t an option.
Walk it Off
Build more walking into your day. Maybe every time you finish a task take a 5-minute walk. Or log a few steps at the top of each hour. Or designate the first or last part of your lunch break for a walk.
Stretch it Out
The benefits of stretching include improved blood flow, posture, flexibility, and stress relief. Getting into the habit of doing neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, cross-chest arm stretches, or even a seated half pigeon pose at your desk can help reset your entire mind and body during the workday.
There are a number of seated ab exercises you can do right from your desk chair, all of which give you a burst of mini-movement that strengthens your core and improves your posture. Try modified crunches and Russian twists.
The mind-body benefits of yoga are extensive, and even a mini session can do a lot of good mid-day. These 10-minute yoga videos are perfect at the start of a lunch break or when you can steal an empty conference room.
Strike a Balance
If you already use a standing desk, increase the functional fitness with a balance board. The micro-movements throughout the day can add up to a lot of “extra” activity.
Float Like a Butterfly
Whether burning stress after a meeting gone wrong, shadow boxing is a fun way to get off your rear. Throwing a few punches over some fancy footwork can invigorate you to power through anything else on the agenda.
After a full day of leaning in, be sure to lunge forward. Tone and tighten that booty and your legs with these long, intentional steps you can take down a hallway or across a conference room.
Kick into High Gear
Stand behind your desk chair and alternate extending each leg into a backward kick. Easy and subtle enough to do while you would have been sitting through a long call.
Twiddle Your Thumbs
Fidgeting sounds like a waste of random energy, but it’s kinda good for you. Tapping your feet or drumming your fingers introduces micromovements that offer cardio, calorie-burning, and stress-relieving benefits.
Get the App
The 7-minute workout app can be done just about anywhere, any time. When can’t you spare 7 minutes at work to get a really good workout that won’t leave you sweaty?
Drop it Like it’s Squat
Three sets of 10 squats during a long conference call or as a break between tasks will keep your lower body toned and provide a really good resistance exercise. If you use a ball at your desk, add support to your squat by placing the ball between your back and the wall and rolling down.
Join the Resistance
Keep a resistance band in your desk. Wrap it around a door frame or even a tree in the courtyard for some upper body work to tone and tighten your arms.
This classic gym class warmup gives a little burst of quality cardio. Three sets of 10 jumping jacks before a meeting will give you a rush of endorphins - the happy hormone - and leave you clear-headed. Even better if you’re already wearing your Enell Lite.
Hit the Gym
If your office offers an in-house gym, take advantage of the free access to this invaluable asset. Treadmill or free weights over a lunch break won’t require an outfit change, but a full-on sweat sesh before you head home will!