Remember the days when “work” meant manual labor with a side of blood, sweat, and tears? Neither do we. These days it seems we’re more likely to log hours after idle hour with our bums glued to our seats. And while you may be an Excel champ by day and gym rat by night, recent research suggests that the recommended 30 minutes of cardio five times per week may not undo the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.
So what’s a worker chained to their desk to do? Luckily short bouts of aerobics, strength exercises, and stretching in between conference calls and Gchats can help improve fitness levels and heart health. While these deskercises won’t promise Olympic mile times or six-pack abs, they might just improve strength and burn a few extra calories to boot. So whether it’s Powerpoint, Photoshop, or emails on that to-do list, we’ve got 7 sneaky exercises for a healthier (and happier!) workday.
The Stair Master
Want to avoid elevator small talk in favor of elevating the heart rate? Take the stairs! Accelerate your heartbeat and take two at a time every other flight for a real leg burn.
Whether you’re praying for a project extension or for more defined arms, this move has you covered. Seated upright with feet flat on the floor, bring the palms together in front of the chest and push both hands together powerfully until you feel the arm muscles contract. Hold the prayer hands pushed together for 20 seconds. Release and repeat the sequence until you feel a little more zen.
The Cubicle Hopper
Walking during work is totally underrated. Take a stroll down the hall to catch up with coworkers or welcome a new employee. Or, instead of dialing extensions and sending lazy emails to the manager two doors down, put in some face time.
The Seated Leg Raiser
When pay raises are nowhere to be seen, consider the leg raise. (Bonus: they’re hardly noticeable underneath the desk!) While seated, straighten one or both legs and hold in place for five or more seconds. Then lower the leg(s) back to the ground without letting the feet touch the floor. Repeat (alternating legs if raising them separately) for 15 reps. Underwhelmed? Loop a purse or briefcase strap over the ankle for added weight.
The Patient Printer
The boss lady just requested that a 200-page presentation be printed “perfectly.” Why stand by the printing pages when you could be sculpting your calves with calf raises? Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, press up onto the tippy toes, pause at the top, then lower back down. Repeat for three sets of 12-15 reps, or until the printing, faxing, or scanning is done. Ready to level up? Try raising only one leg at a time.
The Wall (Street) Sit
Wall sits are great for building strength and endurance. Standing with your back against the wall, bend the knees and slide your back down the wall until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit and hold for 30-60 seconds, while browsing the Wall Street Journal (or Buzzfeed). For some extra burn, try crossing the right ankle over the left knee, hold for 15 seconds, then switch!
The Pencil Pinch
Amy Poehler Smart Girl
Lose the pencil behind the ear. The really suave workers hold it in between their shoulder blades! Show off your traps by rolling back the shoulders until the shoulder blades are placed together. Pretend you’re holding a pencil between the scapulas (or try it for real!). Hold for 5-10 seconds, release, and repeat for 12-15 reps.