11 Easy Exercises You Can Do at Work

No time to exercise because you’re too busy at work? That’s no excuse at all. The problem is simply how we think about our bodies—we’re one person at work, another at home, another at the gym, etc. In fact, we tend to compartmentalize our identity and thus our day by functions, but if you get into the the habit of combining functions, you can get a lot more done. Take exercise. There are lots of ways to combine small but targeted exercise at work with actually doing work that can make a big impact on both your physical and mental health. Short bouts of aerobics, strength exercises, and stretching can help improve your fitness levels and heart health. And studies have shown that even a short break of physical activity can improve your concentration and performance.

The trick is knowing which exercises you can do “on the sly” in your office. Of course, there are some people who aren’t embarrassed at all to break into jumping jacks in the hallway. And there’s also lunchtime when you could go for a brisk walk or climb stairs. But if you’re looking for something a bit more, well, modest, here are 11 ways you can actually exercise at work on a busy day without anybody even raising an eyebrow!

Victory V. This stretch is not just good for your attitude; it’s a great way to ease stress and keep your muscles from clenching up. Stay seated (or better yet, stand up) raise your arms overhead in a V-shape and reach for the sky. Hold for ten seconds. For a deeper stretch, extend the right arm out of the shoulder socket and vice versa.

Tap Master. Tap into your inner Broadway hoofer by sitting and speedily tapping your toes on the floor under your desk. This prevents your ankles from locking up and keeps the blood circulating.

Cardio Combine. While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Do it when you’re stuck on a problem and you might discover afterwards you’ve got the solution!

Head Lollers. Here’s a great way to release tension from too much thinking. Let your head loll over so that your left ear nearly touches your left shoulder. Use your hand to press your head a little lower. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.

Blade Scrunchers. Sitting up straight, try to touch your shoulder blades together by scrunching towards each other. Hold, then relax. This exercise opens your chest and helps it recover from crunching your torso forward over a computer or smartphone.

Master Clenches. Probably the most secret exercise here, but if done regularly, can make a significant impact in your muscle tone. Sitting or standing, tighten your buttocks, hold for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat 15 times.

Chair Dips. Scoot to the front of your chair so your butt is on the edge. Hold your hands on the edge of the seat. Lower yourself off the chair and bend your elbows to work your arms. Repeat 5 times. Check out this video to help you.

Shadow Box. If you can step into a vacant office or conference room, shadow box for a minute or two (punch the air with alternating fists, like a boxer). Alternately, clench your fists in front of your chests and roll them left and right as fast as possible. Both are great for letting off steam and working your chest, arms, and core.

Wall Sits. Stand with your back against the wall, bend your knees, and slide your back down the wall until thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit and hold for 15 seconds, adding increments of 5 seconds each day. A great way to take a phone call and build strength and endurance at the same time.

Printer Squats. Does waiting for the fax or slow printer drive you crazy? Use the time to work your thighs and butt. Stand with feet together, then bend the knees slightly—as if sitting in a chair—so your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, then release. Add increments of 5 seconds as you can. Repeat for 4-6 reps.

The Squeeze Walk. An easy way to strengthen your core when you’re on the way to a meeting. As you walk take a deep breath and tighten your abdominal muscles, pulling them toward your spine as you exhale. Stay squeezed for 5 to 10 seconds, then release. Repeat for 5 to 10 reps several times a day. You can also do these squeezes sitting down.