How to stay fit without leaving your desk!

Blog, Office Wellbeing

It’s a fact: sitting for long periods of time at a desk every day plays havoc with one’s health. Those of us who work in office jobs face a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and more – even if we work out regularly outside of work.

With 60% of our day often spent at work, the British Heart Foundation wants employers to make workplaces healthier places.


In a bid to stay fit and healthy at our desks, we caught up with Wendy Hall, a West Midlands-based fitness instructor who specialises in teaching inclusive, mixed ability classes. Wendy focuses on seated exercise, and draws inspiration from her own experience after an accident where she became paralysed from the neck down. Her disability has inspired her to help others keep fit and is a source of motivation for herself and others.

Wendy’s  inclusive group seated exercise class, FUNction Fitness, is suitable for everyone. The following exercises are taken from her class, and can be done really easily at your desk between tasks!

Wendy’s top 5 seated exercises:

I’d recommend 10 repetitions of the following exercises, and repeat twice if possible. Remember: the new guidelines for 30 minutes of exercise per day can be broken down into 10 minute segments. With these exercises, you could easily meet the requirements without leaving your seat!

Wendy's side rotations

Image credit: Wendy Hall

Exercise is good for the mind as well as the body:  increase your productivity levels by encouraging those endorphins to flow!

1) Side Bends

Long reaches down as far as possible to the left and right, sitting up tall in-between. Encourage flexibility and side movements by using your abs, ribs, waist and arms.

2) Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulders shrug up to the ears and control the return movement. Great for releasing tension if you’re sat at a screen for long periods. Arms should be long and down by the side of your chair throughout.

3) Side Rotations

Hands to the shoulders, elbows sticking out. Turn to the left, then to the right. Make sure you’re sitting up tall,with a gap between yourself and the back of the chair so your whole upper body can move. Great for flexibility and the upper body – lift through the ribs and use the abs to help as you turn.

Side rotations

Image credit: NHS

4) Knee Lifts

Seated, no problem. Single knee lifts, left and right (try not using hands for extra support). Placing your hands on top of the head will make this harder; make sure you sit up tall for this, again gap between you and the chair back. Feet return fully to the floor after each ‘step’. This uses the largest muscles in your legs and engages lower leg movements too.

5) Ankle Reach to Overhead Push

Reach as far as possible with both hands to the ankles while seated, then both hands reach as far overhead as possible. Big stretch up with the arms, lifting to use ribs, working the abs, using shoulders, arms and lungs. Both feet firmly flat on the floor throughout.


Like to keep fit at work? Share you fitness hacks with us on Twitter @myofficefreedom!

For more seated fitness inspiration, follow @Hall100wendy

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