Pain Free Working

8 Office Exercises You Can Do Secretly

Research has proven that sitting for long periods of time can be harmful to the body. Not many of us realize it, but when we sit for hours, we increase the risk of developing health issues such as chronic muscle pain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and even worse, death.

If you have a desk job, you’re one of the millions of individuals at risk of sitting diseases. Experts recommend desk job workers get up throughout the day and take exercise breaks.

While the idea of taking exercise breaks is a great one, it may feel weird to suddenly get up and do squats at your workstation, right next to your co-workers. You may feel self-conscious, and this might stop you from doing exercises at work. Worry not, because you can still take your exercise breaks without your co-workers noticing. Here are 8 desk exercises that you can do in secret.

Your Secret Desk Workout

You don’t have to run down the office hallway or do jumping jacks at your workstation to increase your physical activity while having a desk job. Any kind of movement, no matter how small, can help a lot in reducing the negative effects of sitting.

These secret desk exercises can get your blood flowing, stretch out your muscles, improve your flexibility, and refresh your mind even just for a few minutes. Best of all, your co-workers won’t have the slightest hint of what you’re up to. Try them out!

Chest and Shoulder Opener

One of the negative effects of sitting too much is slouching and poor posture, leading the shoulders and chest muscles to tighten up. This exercise will counteract that.

To do this, sit in your chair and place one hand on the small of your back, palm facing out. Next, press the back of your hand into your back while attempting to pull your elbow and shoulder backward. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times. Repeat the steps on the other side.

Seated Torso Twist

Sit as tall as possible in your chair. Take a deep breath and when you exhale, twist your torso to one side. While twisted, take five deep breaths. If possible, try to twist your torso a little deeper with each exhale. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Leg Raises

This one is easy to do under your desk and it’s guaranteed your co-workers won’t even notice you doing this exercise. Sit tall in your office chair. Keep your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders down.

Straighten your right leg out in front of you, and raise your foot off the floor. Lower your foot back to the floor and repeat the motion 15 to 20 times. Afterward, do the same thing with your left leg. You can also do this with both legs pressed together.

Seated Core

Sit tall in your chair with your pelvis slightly tilted forward. Then, pull your belly button up and in. Remember to engage your core as you hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds. Relax for a breath or two, and then repeat five times.

Foot Drills

This simple exercise can help increase the blood flow in the lower body. Stay seated in your chair, and tap your feet for at least 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds, and then tap your feet for 30 seconds again.

Engage your core as you do so. Repeat five times. To make it more challenging, you can try increasing your time to 45 seconds or a minute once you’ve gotten used to 30 seconds.

Glute Squeeze

This workout can be easily done while undetected. It may also seem like it isn’t a strenuous exercise but you’ll definitely feel its effects after a few reps. To do this, simply squeeze the muscle in your buttocks, hold for 10 seconds, and then release. Repeat 15 to 20 times.

Shoulder Shrugs

Performing shoulder shrugs can help loosen up your muscles that have tightened up with tension. To do this, start by lifting your shoulders towards the ears. Squeeze them as hard as you can. Hold for 2 seconds, and then roll your shoulders back as you relax. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Standing Periodically

This exercise doesn’t have a set of movements. Instead, one of the best ways to relieve soreness and reduce the effects of sitting is to stand periodically. You can set yourself a timer to remind you to get up from your desk and stand for five minutes after every hour of sitting.

You can use the opportunity to walk to the coffee machine, walk to the bathroom, use the office printer or copier, or go talk to a colleague. Not one of your co-workers will think that you’re counting this as an exercise.


A desk job may make it difficult to exercise, especially if you don’t want to be perceived by your co-workers. Fret not, for you can still incorporate more movement throughout your day by doing exercises in secret. Give them a try!

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.