18 Ways to Exercise While Working on a Computer

Male office worker in front of a computer

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Being tied to your desk is detrimental to your health. Although modern workplaces are more flexible than ever, office work still forces you to sit for a significant chunk of your day. Fortunately, you can exercise while working on your computer and be healthy with or without equipment.

Workouts While Sitting Without Equipment

Who told you you can’t be physically active while being glued to your seat for hours on end? Do the following workouts to muscle up, burn fat or do both while sitting up straight.

1. Toe and Heel Raises

Lifting your heels 45 degrees for 30 repetitions and then your toes 20 degrees for the same number of reps builds your calves.

2. Yoga Neck Rolls

Rotating your head around clockwise while leaning forward for up to 15 seconds and then reversing the motion for the same amount of time can help prevent neck strain arising from bad posture.

Alternatively, use your nose to draw circles for at least 10 seconds.

3. Leg Extensions

Don’t want to skip leg day while at work? Flex your shanks outward, raise them, point your toes up and hold this position for up to 10 seconds to stretch your hamstrings and calf muscles.

4. Chest Squeezes

Mimic the shape of a goalpost with your arms and lift your forearms 1 inch after pressing them together as many times as you want to tone your pectoral muscles.

5. Spinal Twists

Is your back killing you? Sit in your chair sideways, grab its top, pull your body toward its back, and hold this position for 10 seconds. You may experience relief if you do this three times.

6. Wrist Stretches

Man writing something on a piece of paper

Extend one of your arms with your palm facing away from your body, pull back your fingertips with your free hand, and hold them for up to 30 seconds. Afterward, release them, bend your hand downward with your palm facing your body, and pull your fingertips toward you.

Repeat the process with the opposite hand up to three times once every hour to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Rotating your wrists for up to 20 seconds clockwise and then counterclockwise also works.

7. Hand Press

How do you work your chest, biceps and triceps while attending a webinar or reading a report? Pushing and holding your palms together while your elbows are out to the side can do your upper body a lot of good.

8. Thigh Press

Open your legs while you push your knees against your palms to work on your lower body.

9. Oblique Twists

Want an exercise while working on a computer that combines weight loss, posture improvement and back support?

Contract your abs while sitting back at a 45-degree angle at your chair’s edge with your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms forward, twist slowly to your right while you align your arms with your abdomen, and stop moving. Then, turn to your left side and pause before returning to your starting position to finish one rep.

Do as many repetitions as your fitness level permits to strengthen your muscles along the sides of your torso. It’s no substitute for high-intensity interval training, but it helps sculpt your obliques when you can’t hit the gym.

10. Crunches

Sit at the edge of your seat and raise and hold your legs straight out. Engage your core with your hands behind your head. Hinge back until you graze your chair’s back and then hinge forward at your hips to touch the outside of your left knee with your right elbow before going back to your starting position. Twenty alternating reps can help tone your abs.

11. Seated Running

Pretending to run without standing up can get your heart pumping. Getting your arms moving and bringing your knees higher accelerate your heart rate faster and increase blood circulation.

12. Seated Jumping Jacks

Bend your knees, close your legs, and lift your heels. Simultaneously extend your legs and open your arms quickly 30 times to get your blood flowing and build your endurance. If you need your hands on the keyboard, just do your lower limbs.

13. Breathing Exercise

Want an instant stress reliever? Inhale for a count of four, count to seven while holding your breath, and then slowly exhale for a count of eight while your tongue presses against the back of your two front teeth. Three sets of these can put you in a mindful state.

Workouts While Sitting With Equipment

Turn your workspace into your gym using furniture as your workout equipment and a few compact machines. Consider these ideas.

14. Chair Dips

Position yourself away from a chair with no wheels, rest your palms at its edge behind your back, and slide it off. Lower your body until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle and then raise yourself to seat height. Do more than a set of eight reps if you can.

15. Chair Lifts

Face away from an immobile chair, grip its armrests, and lift your body off it. Hold yourself for a couple of seconds before slowly going back down. Repeat the steps up to 10 times to give your arms some workout.

16. Biking

Two men tied to their desks

Riding a stationary bike equipped with a desktop instead of handlebars lets you do aerobic exercise while seated for an extended period. If you regularly attend lengthy video conferences, this machine is worth the purchase.

If you already have a workspace, buy an under-desk model. This machine has no seat and handlebars and lets you pedal in place quietly to avoid causing any distraction.

17. Elliptical Exercise

A mini elliptical machine is portable and lightweight. You can fit it under your desk, allowing you to keep your legs busy without standing up. It has multiple resistance settings to roll cardio and strength training into one.

18. Seated Balancing

Man slouching while seated in front of a computer

Placing a disc on your chair intentionally adds instability while sitting. It forces you to engage your core to maintain your balance, address back pain, observe proper posture and achieve comfort. This seat topper’s firmness is adjustable, enabling you to customize your experience. 

Exercise While Working on Your Computer Anytime

Standing is generally better for your health than sitting, but there are workarounds to stay fit when you can’t leave your workspace and take a walk. Using these workout ideas, you can offset some risks of your sedentary lifestyle and continue your fitness journey even when seated.

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