Healthy Workplaces: Get Active at the Office (or Anywhere) with these 10 Easy Exercises

Sitting for long periods of time is hard on the body and mind. Research suggests that even short bursts of exercise are beneficial—and every bit helps add up to the 60 minutes of physical activity needed daily.

Healthy workplaces promote the “Sit for 60, Move for 3” rule, getting 3 minutes of physical activity for every 60 minutes of inactivity, especially if you sit for long stretches of time at work.

Employees walking outside

Walking is an easy way to get active. Walk or march in place while you’re on the telephone. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of calling or emailing. Lap the building when you go to the restroom, before or after lunch and before leaving for the day. Walk to and from lunch; if you usually bring your lunch, go for a walk before and/or after eating.

Ready to do more than walk? Here are 10 easy exercises you can do at your desk or almost anywhere:

Torso Twists

Sit up tall, hands on your thighs. Take a deep breath in and exhale. Slowly turn your body to the right, placing your right hand on your hip and left hand on your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly turn back to the front. Take a deep breath in and exhale. Keep sitting tall. Turn to the left side, placing your left hand at your hip and your right hand on the outside of your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds. 

Heel Taps

Stand up and make sure you have space around you. March in place for one minute. Now, do heel taps. Move your right foot in front of your body, placing your right heel on the ground in front of you. Bring the right foot back and move the left foot forward, placing your left heel on the ground. At the same time, alternate bending the arms at the elbow like you are doing a bicep curl. Use opposite arms and legs: as your right heel taps the floor in front of you, bend your left elbow. Then switch. Continue for one minute. 

Arm Circles

Stay standing and make sure you have space around you. Extend your arms straight out to the sides, making sure your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly start making small circles with each outstretched arm. Slowly make the circles bigger and bigger in diameter until you are making large arm circles (take about 30 seconds to go from small circles to large circles). Then reverse the movement, going in the opposite direction.


Pretend you have a punching bag in front of you. With stomach tight, begin to punch the bag with alternating arms for 5 seconds. Increase the speed of your punches by hitting the bag more quickly for the last 10 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe.


Man stretching at work

Make fists with your hands and let them hang by your sides. Shrug your shoulders by bringing your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for 2 seconds and slowly lower. Repeat 5 times.

Bicep Curls

Start with the left arm, make a fist and let it hang toward the floor. Use the right hand to provide resistance. Slowly raise the left fist toward the left shoulder, hold for 1 second and slowly lower it. Repeat 5 times. Switch to the right arm.

Overhead Press

Bringing your elbows to shoulder height, bend your arms at the elbow and turn your fists to the ceiling, push your fists up overhead towards the ceiling, keeping your hands about shoulder-width apart, then slowly lower 5 times.

Leg Extensions

Sit with your feet on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor. Slowly straighten one leg until your knee almost locks and then bring it back to starting position without touching your foot to the floor. Repeat 5 times before switching to the other leg.

Ab Crunchers

Place your hands at the side of your head and bend forward to rest your elbows on your thighs. Contract the abdominals while applying pressure on the thighs with the elbows, holding for 2 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

Butt Busters

While sitting up tall in your chair tighten the bum. Hold for a count of 1 and repeat 5 times.

Employers throughout central Indiana have made a commitment to create healthier worksites for employees and promote healthy lifestyles for employees’ families. Will you?