That’s where this desk exercise routine comes in. Think of it as a happy medium between sitting for eight hours and hitting the gym when you just. don’t. have. time. We tapped Lauren Williams, certified trainer at Tone House in New York City, to come up with a creative workout that will get the blood flowing—without making you sweaty.
So throw off your jacket and get started with the moves below.
How to use this list:
Do each exercise in order for the indicated number of reps and sets. Do the routine daily—ideally right around that 3 p.m. slump—or as a recovery workout after a tough day.
1. Seated Desk Child’s Pose Stretch
Sit tall with abs pulled in. With chair 1 to 2 feet away from desk, hinge forward at waist and place both hands on the desk, allowing head to fall between hands. Slowly walk both hands to right, so you feel a stretch along left side. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Do 2 to 3 reps on each side.
2. Seated Neck Stretch
Sit tall with abs pulled in. Turn head to right and then tilt chin down. Use right hand to gently pull head toward armpit (as if you’re sniffing—just to check!) to increase stretch. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do 2 to 3 reps on each side.
3. Seated Spinal Twist
Sit tall with abs pulled in, both feet parallel on floor. Place right hand on back base of chair (behind butt) and left hand on outer right thigh. With shoulders pressed down, breathe in. As you exhale, twist upper body right, looking over right shoulder. (Do not twist with lower back. If you feel any pain in your low back, stop.) Hold for 3 to 5 seconds then repeat on the other side. Continue to rotate slowly for 10 to 15 reps.
4. Desk Shoulder and Hamstring Stretch
Stand up and push chair away. Standing 2 to 3 feet away from desk, hinge forward at hip and place outstretched hands on desk. Keep spine and legs perfectly straight so you feel the stretch in hamstrings. With hands on desk, pull shoulders down and away from desk (you should feel your lats engage—those are the muscles in your back that help you do a pull-up). Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Do 2 to 3 reps.
5. External Rotation
Bring your chair back and sit tall with arms at sides, palms facing torso, abs pulled in. Imagine a string pulling head toward ceiling and fingertips toward floor, stretching body in opposite directions. Rotate arms so palms face away from body, then rotate inward so palms face body again. Continue to rotate, holding 2 to 3 seconds in each position. Do 10 to 15 reps.
6. Chest Opener
Stand tall with core braced. Place both hands behind head with fingers interlaced and lean back, arching upper back. The goal is to open chest and stretch pectorals (no backbend necessary). Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Do 2 to 3 reps.
7. Chair Dips
Sit on edge of chair and place hands on either side of seat so fingers can wrap edges. Lift butt off seat and walk feet out 2 to 3 steps, so knees remain bent and butt is about 6 inches from the seat. Engage core and lower by bending elbows and keeping arms close to torso (no elbow wings at your sides). Straighten arms to return to start. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
8. Toe Raises With Chair
Stand behind chair and place both hands lightly on chair back. Press shoulders down, engage core, and rise onto balls of feet, squeezing butt and legs as you hold at the top for 3 to 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
9. Toe Raise to Ballet Squat
From the same position behind your chair, rise onto balls of feet. Send hips back and bend knees as you come into a ballet squat. (No need to send knees out to sides. It’s a squat, not a plié). Try to bend knees to 90 degrees while keeping back straight and chest up. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
10. Desk Push-Up
With chair out of the way, stand 2 feet away from the desk. (Don’t move too far; you want wrists to be in line with shoulders.) Lean forward and place both hands on the edge of the desk, so body is on an angle. Perform a push-up by bending elbows and lowering chest toward desk, keeping elbows close to torso. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Make it harder: Hold the seat of your chair to do push-ups. To make it even more difficult (and risk weird looks from coworkers), place feet on seat of chair and hands on ground, performing a foot-elevated push-up.
11. Chair Squat
Stand in front of chair with core engaged. Perform a squat by sending hips back and bending knees to lower toward chair. Hold arms extended at chest height. Tap butt to chair (don’t actually sit down!), then stand and squeeze glutes at top. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
12. Rotating Lunge
Stand with core engaged and feet wider than hip width. Drop into a lunge by rotating torso to the left, pivoting on toes, and bending left knee and right knee behind you. In one smooth movement, return to stand at center, then rotate to right and repeat lunge on the other side. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.