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Deskercizing 101: How to Get a Full-Body Workout, Right at Your Desk

By Hillary Oberpeul January 16, 2018

There’s no doubt about it, life is crazy sometimes. And somewhere on the to-do list—amongst the grocery shopping and special projects at work—you’re supposed to squeeze in a time to work out. But often, that’s easier said than done… so what can a busy person to do to make fitness a priority?

Enter deskercizing.

That’s right, this made-up word is a very real tactic to get the recommended amount of exercise every week! The concept is simple: use the desk you sit at all day to help you get healthier. While it’s not exactly groundbreaking—it’s been around for a few decades—not everyone has embraced the “work out at work” mentality. But why not?

Why You Should Work Out at Work

Most of us spend at least 40 hours a week in an office, and the majority of that is spent in front of a screen, which can not only affect our posture and eyesight, it can even cause lasting health issues. To counteract this, the Surgeon General suggests a consistent pattern of working out, stating, “Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most important things that people of all ages can do to improve their health.”

So let’s put a new focus on fitness to get big benefits—like stronger muscles and bones, reduced stress (who doesn’t need that?!), increased productivity and better overall health—while we’re on the clock! All you need is a resistance band, something to sit on, 20 minutes and a good sense of humor (you might feel a little awkward until you get the hang of things).

Not sure which resistance band to use? Look for one that makes your life easier, like a TheraBand® CLX™ Resistance Band. The connected loops mean you don’t have to tie the band to anchor it or change up your moves. Plus, the color system helps you figure out what level of resistance you should be using as you get stronger!

Ready, Set, DESKERCISE!

Grab your resistance band (or a few, if you need different resistance levels for different body parts!) and get ready to work those muscles. Do three sets of ten repetitions, or split the exercises up by time—about 45 seconds per exercise. Try them first on a stable seat (like a chair without wheels or a bench), then when you feel confident, try them on an exercise ball for added difficulty!

You can focus on one muscle group at a time when you need a short break from the screen or do the whole workout all at once for that total-body burn. Try to do three sets of ten repetitions for each exercise.

Seated Abdominal Obliques

  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball and lift up on your toes.
  • Lean backward on the ball as you round your back, keeping your abs tight.
  • Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height.
  • Twist from side to side, at your desired speed, without allowing the ball to move.

Pro Tip: Keep your feet flat on the floor for a modified version.

Seated Arm & Leg Raises

  • Sit carefully on a chair or exercise ball with your hips and neck in a neutral position.
  • Lift one arm and the opposite leg at the same time, keeping them both straight, without allowing the ball to move.
  • Alternate with the opposite arm and leg.
  • Repeat.

Weighted Seated Arm & Leg Raises

If you’re not feeling challenged by the seated arm & leg raises, try adding ankle or wrist weights to the mix!

  • Attach one weight to your left ankle and one weight to your right wrist.
  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball or chair.
  • While keeping your body stable, lift your weighted arm and leg.
  • Repeat on the opposite arm and leg.

Seated Elbow Bend

  • Place your feet in the center loops of the CLX band, holding the end loops in each hand with a closed grip. Make sure your palms are facing each other.
  • If there is not enough tension, move your hands one loop closer to the center of the band.
  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball or chair, keeping your back straight.
  • Keeping your elbows at your sides and wrists straight, bend your elbows, bringing your hands to your shoulders.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Seated Leg Press

  • Place your feet in the center loops of the CLX band, holding the end loops in each hand with a closed grip. If there is not enough tension, move your hands one loop closer to the center of the band.
  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball or chair.
  • Hold your hands at chest level, and extend one leg in front of you.
  • Pull your knee upward to your chest.
  • Hold and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on opposite leg.
  • TIP: Keep your back straight.

Seated Shoulder Press

  • Start in a two-handed position, holding one loop of the CLX band in each hand, each hand separated by two loops.
  • Place the CLX around your back at chest height, with elbows bent and palms facing each other.
  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball or chair.
  • Extend your hands straight out from your chest, as if you were pushing an object away from you, at shoulder height.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.
  • TIP: Keep your back and neck straight. Don't shrug your shoulders. Don't hold your breath.

Seated Row

  • Place your feet in the center loops of the CLX band, grabbing the loops of the CLX with a closed grip.
  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball or chair.
  • Extend your legs and arms, keeping your knees and elbows straight. If you don’t have enough tension, move your hands closer to the center of the band.
  • Pull the band back, bending your elbows.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the pulling motion.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.
  • TIP: Keep your knees and back straight.

Seated Upright Row

  • Place your feet in the center loops of the CLX band, grabbing the loops of the CLX with a closed grip, palms facing down.
  • Sit carefully on an exercise ball or chair.
  • Lift your hands straight up toward your chin, with your elbows pointing out.
  • Hold and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Stretch and Recover

When you’re done with your workout, be sure to stretch out the muscles you were just working—you don’t want to be stuck in a chair-shaped position the rest of the day. But you can use that chair, or an exercise ball, to help you stretch it out!

Try these desk stretches from the Mayo clinic to start. You can do these stretches after your workout or even throughout the day! To help alleviate any deskercizing muscle soreness, try having a roller massager on hand. This one even has an option with retractable handles, so it can fit in your desk. That way, you can foam roll right when you need a little relief from sore muscles.

Non-Deskercizing Desk Accessories

Now that you’ve got your deskercizing workout ready to go, it’s time to accessorize. No, you don’t need a cool at-work workout outfit, you need some fitness-inspired stress relief.

Hand Exerciser

Hand exerciser or stress ball? You’ll never know the difference, strengthening your hands as you take the stress down a notch, no matter what those spreadsheets are saying.

Stability Trainers

If you’re a fan of the standing desk, you need one of the TheraBand stability trainers. Not only will it help you work on your balance and strengthen the small muscles around your feet and ankles, it will add a little fun to your life. You can make a little “game” with yourself: see how long you can stand on one foot without touching the other foot down!

Topical Pain Reliever

We like keeping a topical pain reliever, like Biofreeze® Pain Reliever, on hand in case of sore muscles and joints. Whether your desk exercises are making you sore or you’ve got a condition like arthritis, a topical pain reliever can help you feel better. Just apply and go back to your day—the pain relief will keep working while you do too.

Diffuser and Essential oils

If you haven’t jumped on the “at-work zen” bandwagon, it’s time. Whether you have a stuffy nose or you just can’t focus, there’s an essential oil for that. Just add a few drops to a diffuser (either plug in or USB) and get to enjoying. Bonus: the diffuser helps combat dry air by acting as a mini-humidifier for your office!

Exercise Ball

It’s not a new idea, but sitting on an exercise ball is a great addition to your sitting routine. Not only does it help you focus on proper posture, you can also use it as part of your deskercizing routine! You can also alternate between your desk chair and your exercise ball, if that works best for you.

Whatever you do to workout at your desk, stretch and recover, make sure that you make it a habit! Adding a little deskercizing, some stretches, recovery tactics and bonus accessories to your work routine will help you get healthier (and hopefully happier too!).

To find more moves you can do right in your office, check out the TheraBand YouTube channel!