For many people, being glued to a desk with a computer is a part of their daily routine. But sitting at the computer all day may not be good for your body or mind. It may cause backaches due to poor posture, discomfort from lack of movement, weight gain and anxiety. You can get exercise while sitting at your computer by doing cardiovascular conditioning and building your muscles with strength moves.
EditGetting Cardiovascular Activity
- Execute jumping jacks. Sit up with a straight back. Bend your knees and keep them together. Your toes should just touch the floor. Open your legs and extend your arms overhead simultaneously. Keep doing this movement quickly for 30 reps. This exercise can build your endurance and get your blood flowing, which may help you think better.
- Do these exercises with just your legs if you need to type.
- Get in a run. Extend your legs and point your toes. Bend your arms at your sides or keep them on the keyboard. Engage your core muscles and lean back slightly until your shoulder blades just graze the back of the chair. Then lift your legs slightly in front of you and bend your left knee toward your chest. Angle your right shoulder towards your left knee. Quickly change to the to the other side for 30 alternating reps. This kind of running can build your cardiovascular fitness and strength.
- Go for a waterless swim. Engage your core muscles and tilt yourself back at the waist. Your legs hang over the side of your chair. Kick them in a fluttering motion for 30-50 reps. This can increase your endurance and strengthen your leg muscles and abs.
- You can also try flutter-kicking your arms, either along with your legs or separately. Do this above your head or in front of your body.
- Do toe taps. Stand facing the front of your chair. Lift up your right arm up and tap the chair with your left toe at the same time. Alternate sides quickly for 45 to 60 seconds. This targets your cardiovascular system and can strengthen your legs, abs, and arms.
EditBuilding Strength with a Chair
- Work your arms with press ups. Sit on the edge of your chair and bend your knees while keeping them together. Hold your arms at your side so that your hands are on the chair seat. You can also hold the arm rests. Then press through your hands so that you lift up slightly. You may even get taller. Release and repeat the press up for 30 reps.
- Squeeze your knees and butt muscles together while pressing down on your hands for a challenge.
- Sculpt your pecs with chest squeezes. Make a goalpost shape with your arms by keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor and your lower arms perpendicular to it. Engage your chest and arm muscles and press your forearms together. Then lift your arms up about one inch. Return to the starting point and do as many reps as you can while holding proper form.
- Build leg muscle with toe and heel raises. Sit up straight and engage your calf muscles so that your heels rise up and you are on your toes. Then release your heels back to the floor before repeating this exercise for 30 reps. You can also reverse the motion by lifting your toes off the floor instead of your heels for 30 reps. These exercises target and build the muscles of your lower leg and knee.
- Add resistance by placing a large book on your knees while raising your toes and heels.
- Hit your quads and hamstrings with leg extensions. Sit with your glutes on the edge of your chair and your knees bent. With your knees still bent, lift up one leg. Straighten out your leg, hold it for a second or two, and return to starting position. Repeat on the same leg for 15 reps before switching to the opposite leg.
- Make the extensions more challenging by extending both legs simultaneously. This has the added benefit of strengthening your core, too.
- Squeeze your glutes. Sit up straight and clench the muscles of your lower back and bum. Keep squeezing for 30 seconds and release for 30 seconds. Do as many reps as you can or aim to do a certain number each hour. This can build and sculpt your glutes.
- Do crunches on the chair. Sit up straight, bend your knees, and keep them together. Hold your hands behind your head and engage your core muscles. Hinge back slightly and just graze the back of your chair. Hinge your body forward at the hips and touch your right elbow on the outside of your left knee. Return to starting position and repeat for 20 alternating reps. 
EditChanging Your Desk Routine
- Take frequent breaks. Reduce the prolonged amount of time you sit at your desk. Get up and move your body for 20 seconds every 10 minutes. Take a longer break of 2-5 minutes every 30-60 minutes. This can refresh and energize your body and mind as well as provide you with exercise. Some activities you could do include:
- Doing jumping jacks
- Doing push ups against a wall or desk
- Performing yoga poses
- Doing neck and shoulder circles
- Doing arm beats (i.e. swinging the arms back and forth at your sides like pendulums while keeping the torso still)
- Use a standing or treadmill desk. Ask your boss if you can use a standing desk or treadmill at your desk set to a low speed. Walk at a slow pace all day or alternate sitting and standing or walking as needed. Not only can this provide you with exercise, but it can also improve your physical and psychological wellbeing during the workday.
- Be aware that treadmill desks may offer more benefits over their standing counterparts.
- Walk whenever possible. Take every opportunity during your work day to move your body. Do things such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing while you talk on the phone, or jogging in place while reading a report. These can ensure you get exercise and may keep your body and brain fresh throughout the day. Other ways to increase movement when you’re at the computer include:
- Walking down the hall to speak to colleagues or friends instead of emailing
- Do squats while waiting for your printer or copier
- Hold a walking meeting
- Take the stairs to the restroom on another floor
- It can be surprisingly easy to add exercises into your desk routine. Just standing up can be a good activity if you do it often enough – the motion is a squat.
- Do a Push Up
- Exercise While Watching TV
- Set Up an Ergonomically Correct Workstation
- Sit at a Computer
- Train Your Body
- Do a Lying Leg Rotation With an Exercise Ball
- Do a Sitting to Standing Exercise