If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk most of the day, I imagine it can end up being uncomfortable. Is there anything you can do to give your body a break while having to sit for extended periods a day?

Being stuck to your desk all day can be frustrating, but fortunately, there are some desk exercises you can do to give yourself some relief. If you’re an active person, it may make you feel restrained and couped up, but you can combat that with some simple desk exercises you can perform while at work.

Let’s look at some issues that come from being stuck on a desk and some desk exercises to help deal with it.

Issues That Come from Desk Sitting

We’re learning more and more about the problems that come from periods of extended sitting. Everyone is encouraged to get their 10,000 steps a day, but it might not be the specific steps that are the main part of the equation. Keeping mobile and avoiding long periods of sitting may be the main factor and too much sitting is causing health issues.

Sitting for too long may increase your risk of several chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. This is because it puts us in a sedentary situation. Humans are meant to be upright and mobile, and the longer we spend sitting, the more our bodies may waste away.

When you sit for too long, it can lead to the wasting away of your big leg muscles such as the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. These muscles need engagement to stay strong and sitting makes them relax for too long. These muscles can become weaker which can cause falls, sprains, and ligament issues.

When you spend too much time sitting, it may also have a negative impact on your metabolism. You’re not mobile and using your muscles, so it can compromise digestion and things like sugars and fats are more likely to be stored as excess body fat.

Sitting too long may also cause back problems as support can become an issue. There are other conditions like repetitive usage stress that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. The first thing you should look to do is try to get up if possible a couple of times an hour.

If you can at least get up for 30 seconds every half hour, it will help to break up the extended sitting periods. A quick walk around, a few bodyweight squats, or going up and down stairs can be a great way to relieve the problem.

Along with that, here are 6 desk exercises you can do to keep your body active and strong while stuck at a desk.

1. Shoulder Circles

As simple as it sounds, this will help loosen up the shoulders and your trapezius muscles at the top of your back. You will shrug your shoulders up as if you’re doing an “I don’t know” shrug and rotate them through backward circles ten times before reversing the motion and going forward.

2. Extended Arm Circles

Now you will stick your arms out to the side and make tiny circles going forward. You’ll do ten of these and then make the circles larger for ten more. If you have the room, you can do larger circles, but if not, you will now reverse it and do tiny circles backward for ten before doing larger circles for another ten.

This is to help keep the shoulders loose, which can tighten up from sitting and typing all day. It will also help keep things warm and increase blood flow through the arms.

3. Back & Neck Stretch

You might not notice, but if you’re sitting typing most of the day at a desk, it will tilt your head forward a majority of the time. Over the long term, this is putting a lot of strain on your neck and shoulders.

This will cause posture problems, tightness, and can also cause headaches. A lot of headaches are caused by strain through the neck and upper back.

To stretch out these muscles at your desk, you will clasp your fingers together in front of you and then turn them outwards and extend your arms out forward like your pushing both palms into the wall. To give even more of a stretch, you can slowly lower your head down.

Hold this for 12-15 seconds and then release. You can repeat this once or twice more.

4. Trapezius Stretch

We used the trapezius or “traps” in the first two stretches and they are large, kite-shaped muscles at the top of your back. They are involved with stabilizing your upper back and act like a coat hanger keeping everything in place.

They are also involved with turning, moving, and rotating your upper back. Trapezius stretch can get tense easily and it’s why they are one of the key areas to get massaged.

This desk exercise involves grabbing the bottom of your chair with your left arm. Once you’ve grasped it, you will lower your head to your right shoulder.

Then look up and to the left to give the traps and neck a better stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds then sit back upright and switch arms and do the reverse. You can also do 2-3 rounds of this.

5. Chair Lunge

We mentioned how those large leg muscles need to be active and this is a way to work every muscle in your lower body. You will need to back your chair up and you will stand up and step forward with your right leg lunging down, stopping just before your left knee hits the ground.

You’ll step back and sit back down in the chair and then do the movement with your left leg. That’s one full repetition and you’ll do this 10-12 times and you can do 2-3 rounds.

6. Seated Ab Crunch

Sitting at a desk will give you a weak core as the muscle are not engaged as much as they would be if you were standing. To do this desk exercise you will sit closer to the edge of the chair and put your hands behind your head.

You’re now going to slowly lower back and stop just as your back is lightly touching the back of the chair. Then slowly sit back up to the upright seated position you started in.

A tip to make this desk exercise even more effective is to keep your abs flexed like you would if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. This one is a lot tougher than it sounds, but with all these desk exercises, you can help to combat all the negative effects that come from sitting for too long.

Any other desk exercises you like to do? Please share them down below!


  1. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/

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