Quick and easy exercises you can do at your desk in 7 minutes or less

January 18 |
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My weights live on my desk. It keeps me accountable… mostly.

I'm not an exercise buff by any means — the most I do is yoga three times a week, and that's when I'm REALLY disciplined about it. Most of the time my schedule (working from home + parenting a small child = I'm all over the place) makes regular yoga attendance a challenge. Despite the challenges, I still like activity — even while I'm sitting at my desk for a few hours. To combat the overall feeling of ick that I generally get, I created this series of small exercises to do to keep my circulation up and spirit happy.

You only need hand weights (I use two pound ones) and a 2×3 foot area you can sit and stand in — everything else is on you. The exercises are pretty simple — think lunges, arm lifts, and crunches.

Here's what I do:

Arm Lifts: 3 minutes
I do three sets of arm lifts on each arm. First, I pick up a weight, hold my arm straight in front of me with my thumb facing up. Then I bring my arm toward my face thirty times. In the next lift I hold my arm out (still holding the weight) with my palm facing down and bring my arm into my chest thirty times. In the final lift I hold my arm over my head, bend it at the elbow behind my head, and bring it back up straight — thirty times. Then I repeat with the other arm!

Lunges: 2 minutes
I do three kinds of lunges as well. The first is a basic lunge, which I do 30 times on each leg:

The second is a side lunge, which I do 15 times on each leg:

The third is really a squat, but still kind of lunge-y (I do these 30 times as well):

Crunches: 1 minute
I like tuck crunches, and I try to do them for sixty seconds. I don't always succeed:

Again: the whole point of this isn't to become buff or even toned — I have no idea if I'm doing much more than just giving myself a boost a couple of times a day. All of the exercises are easy to do in what I'm usually wearing while working (jeans and a shirt). I try to do each of these at least twice, with a goal of doing them four times in a four hour period. They take next to no time, but I always feel a little more ready to approach a problem or work on a piece after I'm finished.

And if you don't like these ideas… you can always do what my husband does. IF you happen to have a 30 pound kid handy:

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He does two sets of fifteen of push-ups at a time with Jasper on his back. I managed two.

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  1. While I'd probably get crazy looks for doing lunges in my cube, I'll have to give the arm weights a try!

    • HA! It's not quite the same, but one day I was doing these while my almost 3 year old was eating lunch. He looked over and said "Are you exercising?" and I was like "Yeah! Exercising is awesome!" and he GIGGLED and said "You're so funny."

  2. Nice to know someone else does this too! When I get home after work, I try to do a similar routine. My only additions are 25 – 50 tummy lifts (lift your feet up by 6" and your head/shoulders up by 6" at the same time, hold for a bit and drop), arm reps with small weights, 50 full sit ups, leg lifts (forward, side and back) and jumping jacks.

    After sitting around all day in a cubical, it's nice to be able to move around a bit. Also, I'm actually starting to lose weight, when I follow it up with cardio (walk, marching in place, run, skateboard, w/e).

  3. As if the ladies at work didn't already thunk I'm nuts for chair dancing at work. 🙂

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  4. Sometimes when it's quiet at work I do bicep curls with heavy textbooks. Or I pull latin dance moves in the stacks when no one is around O_O

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  5. SNAP! I do press up with my almost 2 year old on my back, her choice not mine but I like that it makes them harder. Glad to see I'm not the only one 🙂

  6. I tried these this morning – I'm in a cubicle with a door all day at work so I may start implementing these every hour or so since no one's going to be able to judge, lol. I get so tired of sitting around all the time, and I really am trying to exercise more.

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  7. i need to do these! i was just marveling at your arms, mine are kinda jello-y. thank you, thank you, thank you for dropping some exercise science.

  8. I love the idea of these, but would feel odd in front of my coworkers. One thing I've been doing though that helps: stairs.

    I'm in an 18 story building, so one of my coworkers and I walk down to the bottom, then back to the very top, and then all the way down again. It's so re-energizing for me!

    1 agrees

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