Having a desk job -- especially on long workdays -- makes finding time for exercise difficult. Still, you can do some exercises at your desk without losing productivity. Remaining seated for a prolonged period shortens your hamstrings and hip flexor muscles, which tightens them and causes strain on the lower back and knees, according to the American Council on Exercise. Adding daily desk exercises and stretches can help you stave off muscular imbalances.
Leg adductions target the inner thighs and hips. Place a sweatshirt, an inflated exercise ball or towel between your knees while seated. Squeeze your knees together, hold for about three to five seconds, and then relax for the same amount of time. Do sets of 15 to 20 throughout the day to tone the inner legs.
Perform leg extensions while remaining seated at your desk. Lift one leg and straighten it so the whole leg is parallel with the floor. As your leg straightens, squeeze your quads above your knee. Once your leg is straight, exaggerate the squeeze of the quadriceps and hold for three to five seconds, creating your own resistance. If you can, wear a 5-pound ankle weight for more resistance. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each leg and then switch legs.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association describes isometric contractions as exercises with no change in muscle length. That means the muscle does not move, but it still contracts. Sit at your desk and squeeze your glute muscles as hard as you can. Although there is no external weight to manipulate, the act of squeezing is the workout. Hold for 10 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. Do 10 reps.
Pull your chair back from your desk. If you wear heels, take them off for this exercise. Sit in your chair, holding the armrests, and lift your hips and glutes about 3 inches off the chair and then sit back down. Alternatively, sit in the chair as you usually would and press your legs into the floor as hard as you can for an isometric contraction. This works almost the same muscles as the squat without visible movement.
If you are a woman and wear heels to work, take them off when you are at your desk. Heels shorten the calf muscles, causing many leg and knee problems. Get up every hour to walk around, drink water or use the rest room. This will increase circulation, stretch the legs and burn more calories. Stand and pace when you are on the phone. Stretch at your desk. Flex your feet for a calf stretch, straighten your legs and reach forward for a hamstring stretch.
- Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association; Thomas R. Baechel, et al.
- ShapeFit: Work Office Exercises; Train Your Legs While Sitting At Your Desk
- Fit Day: Try These 5 Thigh Toning Exercises at Your Desk