Can’t Hit the Gym? Hit your Desk!

Adding shorter bouts of exercises, even five- or 10-minute micro workouts on a regular basis, can help you maintain and improve your health. If you can’t visit the gym, jog, play tennis or do other workouts as often as you’d like, you can elevate your metabolism, burn calories, build muscle and challenge your cardiovascular system without breaking a sweat – right in your office.

Benefits of Micro Workouts

Thanks in part to increasing work schedules that reduce the available time we have to be physically active, almost 70 percent of adult Americans are now obese or overweight, according to the American Heart Association. While there’s no substitute for a 30-minute (or longer) moderately or vigorously intense cardio workout, shorter bouts of exercise that elevate your heart rate and breathing should supplement your weekly exercise regime, provide a variety of health benefits.

Sedentary Lifestyles Increasing

More and more health professionals are recommending office and home workers perform some physical activity during he day if they sit at a desk for many hours. Between sleeping and sitting at your desk, you are sedentary up to 16 hours per day. Add a one-hour commute, the time you sit during breakfast, lunch and dinner and one or two hours of television watching or Internet surfing and many people are sedentary 20 or more hours per day!


One way to reduce the number of hours your metabolism is down is to exercise at your desk once each morning and afternoon (if not more often). Workers can now find a variety of desk equipment, such as standing desks, and desk treadmills and ellipticals, to help keep their heart rates higher than just sitting motionless. But you don’t need a special desk to get in a quick workout at your desk – try these simple exercises to raise your metabolism, challenge your cardiorespiratory system and improve your heart health.

Resistance Band Exercises

Buy a set of resistance bands that lets you place your feet in bottom straps at one end, while you hold the bands with your hands at the other end. You can perform many arm, leg, back and core exercises, building muscle while you elevate your heart rate. These exercises are similar to the ones you perform with dumbbells.

For example, perform biceps curls by letting your arms hang by your sides with your palms facing forward, then slowly raising and lowering your hands and the bands to your shoulders, bending at the elbow. To work your triceps (the backs of your upper arms) put your hands behind your head with your palms facing your shoulders and back, then raise and lower them, bending at the elbow until your palms are facing forward. To work another set of arm and shoulder muscles, let your hands hang at your sides with your palms facing you, then raise and lower your arms, keeping them straight as you raise them to shoulder height. Work your quads with leg presses by holding the bands near your shoulders, raising your legs off the floor, then slowing pushing them out and bringing them back toward you, keeping them off the ground. Try this exercise using both legs at once and then one leg at a time.

Try a circuit-training workout by performing reps of one exercise for one minute at a vigorous pace, then switching to another exercise for one minute. Keep your resistance bands tight to make the exercises require enough effort to raise your heart rate.

Desk Calisthenics

Use your chair or desk to support you while you do pushups, sitting leg raises, and chair dips and raises. You can raise yourself with your hands and arms while you sit in your desk, performing this simple exercise for several minutes with your feet on the floor, then sticking your legs straight out. Or, you can stand backwards to your desk, place your palms on your desk and raise and lower yourself.

Other Office Exercises

If you have stairs in your building you have a great workout that’s available any time. Try walking them briskly two at a time, or jogging up them quickly one at a time while lifting your knees high. While you’re in the stairwell, take advantage of step-ups, using the bottom stair to repeatedly step up, step back down and repeat. Going up stairs works your calves, while going down stairs works your quads (as they try to brake you), so add both to your quick workout.

If you have room in your office, jumping jacks, butt kicks, jogging in place, squats and lunges are other easy ways to elevate your heart rate.

The key to maintaining and improving your strength, flexibility and heart health at work is to make short, moderately or vigorously intense bouts of exercise a regular part of your day. Exercise not only improves your physical health, it can also improve your cognitive function, according to Stanford University researchers who examined a variety of research studies on the subject. Let your boss know that deskercising makes you a more productive, efficient and valuable employee.