Chair Exercises for Work

Chair Exercises for Work

I came across this series of exercises that can be done while sitting down at work on a hard drive a little while ago, but I’ve been waiting until I had time to go through the exercises before putting it up. It was posted on one of my first fitness blogs about 6 years ago, but I think it remains relevant as many people STILL struggle with fatigue brought about by WORK. The phrase ‘chained to a desk’ is a common one, but it fits a lot of people.

Sitting Exercises at Work.

For 90% or more of your working day, you might be located within 2 metres of the same spot, and chances are you’ll be sitting for a lot of that time too! Here then is a complete workout routine for the workplace, a workout for the entire body for those who sit down all day or who can’t afford to just ‘pop’ to the gym during their lunch hour. *I’m going to assume you are sitting in a swivel computer chair – if this is the case, planting your feet firmly onto the ground (about 60 cm apart) is always the first step.

24 Sitting Exercises You Can Do At Work.

Chair Exercises for Work
Chair Exercise for Work…that Work!

Right then, let’s go. I’m going to start at the top left and work left to right, then go down a level and work left to right again.

  1. Interlock fingers in front of you, palms facing inwards. Turn the palms down and then out so they are now facing away from you, and straighten the arms. Push forward with the arms and back with the back to feel the stretch. 5-10 seconds will do it.
  2. Hands behind the hand, palms on your skull. Push the elbows back (you’ll feel this one!). Try not to arch the back too much. 5 -10 seconds.
  3. Make sure your chair is nice and steady, then lift one leg up to your chest and hold in place. One hand on the knee, one on the ankle. 10-15 seconds. From this ‘hold’ position go straight into number 4…
  4. A nicely vigorous one this one. From the end position of 3, raise both arms to the sky and kick the leg you have just raised out in front of you. Return the arms and the leg to the ‘hold’ position then repeat 2-3 times. Stretch the arms and the fingers out as you raise them to the sky, and point with your toes.
  5. Put both arms straight out in front of you, palms down. Now turn JUST your upper body. You will notice your arms take on different lengths as you turn. Only go as far as is comfortable. Pause for 4-5 seconds and repeat on the other side. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.
  6. As 3 and 4, but using the other leg.
  7. As with 1, but instead of turning your palms out and pushing forwards, turn your palms out and reach up to the sky. Be careful with this one, it will expose a lot of tightness in your muscles. 5-10 seconds.
  8. This is a nice one. Hold your elbows with your upper arms 90 degrees from your body. As you pull your right elbow to the left with your left hand, at the same time turn your head to the right. Pause for a few seconds, then turn the head back and return the arms to the centre. Repeat on the other side.
  9. Feet together or just slightly apart, just slide your hands down your legs til they get to your feet. Slow and steady, and pause at the bottom for 10-20 seconds. Remember to come up as slowly as you went down!
  10. Arms to the sky as in move 4, but from the raised position bend forwards from the waist. Keep your neck straight (i.e. don’t try and look up), and keep your arms back (letting them fall in on themselves will lessen the stretch). Pause a few seconds come back up, then go back down 3 or 4 times before lowering the arms.
  11. A little trickier to explain this one. Plant your feet firmly onto the ground (about 60 cm apart). Raise one hand to the sky (straight up), put your other hand on the upper chest/shoulder of the side you have raised the arm, and turn your head to look to that side too (like you’re looking at your armpit). You will need to twist a certain amount to do this – and therein lies the exercise!
  12. Imagine you’re sitting on the edge of a jetty on a nice warm summers day, idly kicking your legs backwards and forwards. Now do it in your office!
  13. A nice gentle one now – make like a tree! Interlink fingers again, but this time just lift your arms above your head, palms facing down. Now lean a little to the left, then lean a little to the right, then repeat a few times. Pause at the furthest point for a couple of seconds.
  14. Turn your hands so the fingers are pointing to the back of your seat, and place your hands on the seat either side of you. If you can’t feel that stretch, try leaning back a little while keeping the palms flat on the seat. 10-15 seconds.
  15. Turn the head. Left, right, up, down, all around basically! 3-5 times in every direction.
  16. Raise your arms – out to the sides, then up to the sky and back again. Nice and controlled, stretch out through the fingertips. 5 high and 5 to the side should do nicely. (See how simple working out at your desk can be!)
  17. Put the back of one hand against the small of your back, then lift your other arm out to the side then up overhead, leaning over in the same direction. Let the arm bend and fall around your head, then reverse and do the other side. 1 rep either side is enough for this one – it’s a powerful stretch.
  18. Nice easy one, you could do this when you’re on the phone or on the way back from the coffee machine (put the coffee down first). Stand up just next to your chair. Hold the back of the chair with one hand, put the other arm out to the side for balance, then swing your outside leg backwards and forwards a few times. Then lift the knee up a few times. Then rotate the leg in the hip socket, clockwise a few times, then anti-clockwise a few times. Turn around and do it all again with the other leg. How many is a few? That’s up to you (give yourself a chance though, do at least 5!).
  19. You KNOW this one. Arms up over the head, hand around the opposite elbow, pull first one way then the other (to the left and then to the right). Pause for a couple of seconds at the furthest point of every stretch. 5 or 6 each side will have you feeling it.
  20. Bring your ankle up to your opposite knee and use your hands to gently rotate the foot. Repeat with the other foot.
  21. Work your mouth! Your face can get tired too from all that concentrating and staring at a computer screen. Simply make a small ‘o’ and a big ‘O’ with your mouth. Alternate for a few seconds then get on with whatever you were doing!
  22. A classic backwards and forwards bend. Start by putting your palms on the small of your back and bend backwards slightly. Then interlock your fingers behind your neck and bend forwards. Don’t pull your neck down with your hands, just feel the gentle stretch. 5 times backwards and 5 times forwards should do for now.
  23. A simple bit of coordination to get your mind back into focus (and away from spreadsheets). Clap your hands and raise your left leg up and out. Then the right leg. Don’t look for hidden complications, there are none! Repeat for as long as you like.
  24. Another classic – the leg stretch. Stand behind your chair with your hands on the backrest. Now step back with one leg as far as you can (reach with your toes). Now try and push the heel of that foot down – hey presto: stretch! Hold for a few seconds, then switch sides.

So, how many of those did you recognize? How many do you sub-consciously perform halfheartedly during your day as you gradually get all bent out of shape? I haven’t gone into a lot of detail, those bullet points were just my notes really for a class I was teaching at the time. You don’t need to overthink these exercises though, just FOCUS on them. That is the main difference between a workout that works and one that doesn’t, be it a heavy bodybuilders workout, or a gentle office workers workout.

Radio Taiso Sitting:

Filter Free Fitness: Sitting Exercises.

Radio Taiso Book 3: Filter Free Fitness is an exercise routine you can do sitting OR standing. Get a few co-workers on board and greatly improve your working day! Banish the biscuits and replace them with natural energy!

Super simple standing or sitting exercise from Radio Taiso book 3.

Here is your guide to the Filter Free Fitness routine: Jessica. The routine starts with exercises for the hands, wrists and shoulders – and that is the image for the ‘hands’ exercise. Try it – hold your hands up like Jessica, then just firmly make fists 5 or six times. You can read more about the routine here:

So, there you have it. Chair exercises you can do anywhere and at (almost) anytime. Now have at it!