Exercise at your desk

How to stay fit at your desk

Long periods spent hunched over a computer can leave you feeling tired, stiff and immobile. However, if you find that your working day is leaving you increasingly ‘deskbound’ then help is at hand. We have created a desk workout that keeps you energized throughout the day, leaving you feeling invigorated, not fatigued.

Exercise at your desk

Our desk workout includes:

  • Ergonomics
  • Exercise
  • Mobility
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition

… which all contribute to combatting the effects of long hours spent toiling at a computer or completing mountains of paperwork.

Exercise at your desk 1: Are you sitting comfortably for exercise?

Correct ergonomics at your desk will go a long way to preventing aches and stiffness.

  • Make sure that your chair, monitor, telephone and any other equipment you use are all correctly sited. As a guide, your forearms should be approximately horizontal and your eyes at the same height as the top of the computer screen.
  • Check that there is clear space under your desk to move your legs freely.
  • Your chair should support your back. If using a keyboard, have your arms roughly horizontal when typing. If your feet don’t reach the floor, use a foot stool. Ideally the chair height should be adjustable to suit all the people who use it.
  • Good body posture is equally important, so try to avoid slumping over your desk. Sit upright on your chair with relaxed shoulders.

Exercise at your desk 2: Be active at work

The human body was both designed to be, and functions better, if we’re active, so at least every hour, get up and move away from your desk. Use lunchtime or a toilet/coffee/water break as an opportunity to get up, move around and get away from your desk. A few minutes is sufficient to get the blood flowing all around your body and you’ll return revitalized and with more energy. Additionally, a break from your work can often give you that ‘eureka! moment’, where the solution to a problem that you were previously struggling with suddenly becomes totally obvious.

Exercise at your desk 3: Exercising at work ...

During long periods of inactivity, your muscles can become stiff, tense and immobile at your desk, with the key ones being the neck, shoulders, back and arms. Additionally, you may find that your legs stiffen up. Simply follow the exercise protocols outlined below and then consult the table for suitable mobility exercises to recharge your body.


Exercise at your desk 4: Exercise protocols.

For all the exercises in the table, carry out the following routine to get maximum benefits from your desk break. The entire routine should take only a few minutes.
  1. Stand up and move away from your desk in clear space.
  2. Ideally, go for a short walk first to increase blood flow around your body before carrying out the mobility exercises.
  3. Stand tall during each exercise.
  4. Allow approximately 10 seconds for each movement.
  5. Execute all movements gently.
  6. Ensure relaxed breathing throughout the routine.
  7. For maximum benefits, try and carry out the routine in the order below, which mobilises the larger muscle groups first.
Exercise at your desk
Area of the body
Mobility exercise
realbuzz.com mobility tip

Standing on one leg, lift one knee up towards the chest and then return it to the floor. Repeat with the other leg For a variation: when your knee is at your chest, flex your knee in and out before swapping legs
Chest & upper back

With straight arms, reach both arms out in front, palms together. Repeatedly open your arms out as far as comfortable and back to the start position Try contracting your shoulder blades together to get more of a stretch


Slowly circle your arms from the shoulders, stretching out as far as possible Alternate between forward and backwards movements


Stand with legs apart, hands on hips. Slowly circle the hips

Alternate between clockwise and anti-clockwise movements to keep the body in balance

Bend your arms at the elbow to touch the shoulders and then fully straighten the arms again. Repeat Can combine with the wrist mobility exercise


Slowly circle your hands from the wrists both clockwise and anti-clockwise Can combine with the arm mobility exercise

Neck 1

Looking ahead, alternately angle your neck from left to right, trying to make your ear touch each shoulder

As your mobility increases, try and stretch a fraction further towards your shoulders on the last couple of repetitions
Neck 2

Looking ahead, alternately bring your chin down to your chest and then look up to the ceiling Avoid arching the back during this movement and overstretching the neck


Exercise at your desk 5: Stay hydrated

Office environments can dry you out, particularly with air-conditioning, but if you spend long periods at a desk, hydration is easy. Stick to the following 3-point plan to focus on hydration:

  1. Limit caffeine intake. Caffeinated drinks including cola, tea and coffee, all dehydrate your body. Too much caffeine can result in headaches, dry and sore throats, and lethargy.
  2. Don’t lose your bottle. Always keep a bottle of water at arms reach. Take frequent swigs and you’ll keep your fluid levels topped up.
  3. Don’t neglect activity. However, just because you have water close at hand and don’t need to move away from your desk for a drink, still make sure that you take regular exercise and mobility breaks.

Exercise at your desk 6: Eat for energetic activity

Correct nutrition makes a big difference to an exercise routine and the desk workout is no different. Follow the guidelines below and in addition to your exercise, your energy levels will remain high.

  1. Keep topped up. To maintain your energy levels, have small, frequent meals and snacks so that you always have an energy boost. Too long between meals will result in poor concentration and symptoms of fatigue – which means that your work will take longer and you will have to spend more time at your desk. Fruit is a great healthy snack and bananas are ideal. Also, try a handful of raisins or dried fruit or a low-fat yogurt.
  2. Avoid liquid lunches. In addition to dehydration, alcohol at lunchtime will leave you feeling tired and listless with impaired concentration. Stick to soft drinks such as fruit juices or flavored water in your lunch break and you’ll feel far more energized during the afternoon.

Exercise at your desk 7: Reap the benefits of exercising at work

If you follow the simple eating, drinking, exercise and mobility ideas above, not only will you combat the effects of long hours spent at your desk, you’ll be setting good standards for your all-round health and nutrition. After work, instead of feeling tired and listless, you’ll feel far more alert and energized for that evening gym visit or jog with friends.

Comments (2)

  • DeedeeW 'I'm doing the plank on my desk as we speak!'

    Report as inappropriate

  • Karlito23 'Being at work should not be an excuse for skipping exercise.. here’s a 5 min exercises you can do while on desk (http://e1fit.com/articles/positive-fitness-in-the-workplace/) from a 1996 Olympian Dr. A.'

    Report as inappropriate

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