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Desk Exercises for Improved Focus.

Whether we care to admit it or not, many of us are spending more time at our desks or in our beds this past year. For those of us lucky enough to find ourselves working from home (which sometimes feels more like living at work) the daily routine can involve so much sitting now that some of us may feel like we are starting to shape shift and mould to our chairs. Let’s shake it up!

In today’s blog post, we’ll be infusing desk stretches and exercises that you can easily incorporate into your day to increase your energy, creativity, mood and mobility. All four?! YES! Sitting for extended periods of time can actually weaken our muscles causing loss of strength and flexibility. Over time, we might experience neck and shoulder pain, weight gain, lower back pain, loss of flexibility and loss of strength….the list goes on. The good news is, there are ways to break up our "sitting marathons" by infusing some movement into our daily routines!

Here are some easy desk stretches you can fit in throughout the day (hint: set a timer if you need a little extra push to take a stretch break):

Easy desk stretches
Seated Side Stretch:
Start in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor. Place your right hand on the side of your chair while extending the left overhead, reaching for the opposite wall. You should feel a gentle pull along the left side of your body - breathe deeply in and out of the nose to enhance the stretch. Repeat with the opposite side.

Overhead Stretch:
Start in a seated position and interlace your fingers. Reach your arms up and overhead so your biceps are beside your ears. Press through the palms of your hands as you inhale to deepen the stretch and then exhale, allowing the shoulders to relax and slide down your back. Repeat this cycle 5 more times.

Behind the Back Shoulder Stretch:
Start in a seated position and move yourself towards the edge of your seat. Gently clasp or interface both arms behind your back pulling your shoulders back and down. As you inhale, reach with the hands interlaced towards the floor and then exhale to allow them to relax.

Desk stretches for focus and mobility
Seated Cat / Cow Pose:
Starting in a seated position with your feet resting flat on the floor, place both of your hands on your knees. As your inhale, press into your hands to lift your chin, chest and abdomen as you arch your back. Try to use your hands to help pull your shoulders down your back. As you exhale, reverse the movements by pressing your shoulder blades apart, rounding at the back tucking your chin and pressing the hands away and down into your legs. Repeat this sequence ten times.

Seated Twist:
Starting in a seated position, place both feet firmly on the floor. Place your right hand on the outside of your left leg, your left hand on the left side of your chair and gently twist your body to the left. Hold this for 3-4 breaths and then switch sides.

Seated Figure Four Stretch:
Start in a seated position with both feet on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee so it looks like a figure 4. With one hand on either leg, gently lean forward as you feel a stretch in your glutes. Hold this position for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Here are some desk exercise ideas requiring no more equipment than what you'd find in your home or office: 

Desk exercises for strength and mobility

Tricep Dips:
Start in a standing position, facing away from your chair with about 1 foot of space between you and the chair. Reach back with both arms so your palms are on the edge of the chair. Gently bend both your arms and legs as you come down into a squat, keep your back straight as you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders. As you exhale, press your hands down into the desk, extending your triceps. Perform this exercise 10 times.

Chair Squats:
Start in a standing position facing away from your chair. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, hinge at your hips, bend your knees and sit down on your chair. Press into your heels and drive yourself up and out of the chair to stand. For a more challenging version, try to tap the chair instead of sit down on it. Repeat this
exercise 10 times.

Standing Hamstring Curls:
Start in a standing position with your chair on your right hand side. Rest your right hand on the chair for support. Slowly bend your right knee bringing your heel towards your bottom and while squeezing your hamstrings. Repeat this exercise 10 times slowly and then switch sides.

Push Ups On A Desk:
Start in a standing position facing your desk. Bring your hands down to the desk keeping them shoulder width apart. Step your feet back so you are in a long plank position. As you inhale, bend your arms keeping them to your sides as you bring your chest down to the desk. Exhale and press into your hands, extend at the
arms and come back into the plank position. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Sure, you might get your glow on after a few reps, but why not put those yoga pants that have become part of the new "work uniform"to their intended use?

-By Lindsay Mustard, RHN


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