Extended Back to School Sale! 20% Off Laminate Standing Desks + FREE SHIPPING. Use code 20%OffLaminate Ends 8/01

Search StandDesk.co

Effective Exercises at Your Desk: Stand Your Way to Better Health!

  • 9 min read

Who says you have to limit yourself to standing while you work?

Once you get the hang of using your standing desk, varying positions to maximize your health benefits is easy. But before you start thinking how you could pull off a headstand while typing, know what the experts have to say first.

If you want to exercise at your desk, you cannot just get on with any regimen without doing research. You need to find out if it will work for you. This is particularly true if you have specific conditions. Otherwise, you up your risk of injury. Avoid this common pitfall.

The moment you replaced your sitting desk with a standing desk, you opened the doors to healthier living. Learn how to make the most of it by taking note of the significant guidelines detailed herein.

The Standing Exercise at Your Desk Mentality: Living a Healthier Life

You do not have to be naturally athletic to have the right mindset for exercising. Often people view it as a chore, a task they need to get out of the way. Others, however, see it as a means for improving their appearance.

Either way, having the wrong mindset explains why it falls behind most people’s list of priorities (even if it plays a critical role in maintaining good health). To realize how important it is, you need to stop making excuses for not doing it.

To put you on the right track, check out these tried-and-tested tips on how you can achieve and maintain the right mindset for exercising:


  • Think of exercise as a must for survival.

For starters, science has proven that humans are not wired to be sedentary. Our optimal health hinges on our determination to sustain the good balance between healthy diet and exercise.

guy getting ready to start racing


  • Enduring a little pain opens you to numerous gains.

View exercise as a way to be in tune to your body’s needs. With this, take note of your physical improvements regularly, and give yourself a pat on the back for each accomplishment.

Although cliché, the saying “No pain, No Gain” is true and applies to everyone. The discomfort is temporary and only in the beginning. Once you get the hang of exercising, the soreness will reduce gradually until it vanishes completely.


  • Program yourself by setting a trigger.

A trigger serves as a reminder that the next activity on your agenda is exercise. It does not have to be anything elaborate or fancy. It could be as mundane as brushing your teeth or as soon as you are done making your bed in the morning.

While you are at it, tell yourself that quitting was, is, and will never be an option. Do not put off until later. Otherwise, you would be too tired and stressed out by the day’s tasks that you could end up not doing it at all.

Standing Desk Exercise Equipment: Multitasking Health and Work

On its own, standing already burns 8-10 additional calories per hour. Plus, you get to improve your posture while working more productively. But since you are already on your feet, you might as well improvise by performing easy but effective exercises using your desk.

It is a given that you cannot use your standing desk the same way you would use a treadmill or any other exercise machine. Therefore, it will not be right to think that it could work like those machines that will help you get rid of cellulite or grow your muscles.

But with the right moves, specifically specially designed exercises to do at your desk, you can burn more calories. Also, you can strengthen your body and tone your muscles. And because exercise also improves mood as it releases endorphins, you reduce stress and feel calmer overall. 

Standing Desk vs. Exercise Ball: Why the Ball May Not Be Enough

People who think that working healthily begins with using the right equipment are on the right track. There are many types of equipment that work without disrupting your concentration or other habits. One of them is the exercise ball.

Roughly 10-times bigger than a regular beach ball, this inflated orb is made of thick plastic. Because of its size, it can easily replace stools and bean bags. Unlike them however, this ball does more than just provide you a comfortable place for sitting.

Accordingly, the ball offers numerous fitness advantages, ranging from toning the whole body to strengthening the core. Most notable of these is its capacity to help users recover from back, knee and hip injuries. And because it is used for low-impact workouts, users are least likely to get injured while using it.

Sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs has become a widely popular alternative for helping individuals stay healthy while working. Although a ball burns more calories than on a conventional chair, experts have proven that it may not be the best exercise equipment for your desk. Here are three reasons why:


    • Because it has neither arm nor back rest, your upper body may not get the complete amount of support it needs. Their absence also makes it easier for you to slouch.


    • You tend to activate your muscles “constantly” while sitting. Doing this for long periods ups your fatigue and worsens back pain.


  • Take note that exercise balls are not designed for prolonged sitting. Not only will it be uncomfortable, but you also risk injury because making the wrong move (or other external factors) can cause it to roll out from under you.

The Standing Exercise Mentality: Finding the Time to Work Out

Unlike conventional exercise equipment, you do not have to set aside time to work out using a sit-to-stand desk. You can work out at your standing desk exercise equipment without taking a 20-30 minute break from your task.

In fact, as proven by many who have tried it, it can be done easily with activities that do not need absolute focus (e.g. talking on the phone, searching for files, arranging items on your desk, etc.). Thus, when considering “standing at your desk vs. sitting”, standing always edges out sitting.

One exercise at a time for 5 minutes or less suffices. You can allot 5-15 minutes of each hour or every 2 hours. It is all up to you. Just make sure that you balance your time wisely. However, if you are suffering from an illness/any health condition or have a weight loss goal, put yourself at an advantage by seeking the advice of a doctor before you start your regimen.

As with standing, the exercise you can do will work out specific areas little by little. Because you are doing more than just stand, the calories burned likewise increases. And with that, your benefits go up as well. Just make sure to do it right. Most importantly, do not try to race with others or do something freaky (like a headstand), and you will be fine.

Simple Standing Desk Ab Exercises at Your Desk

Because you are already standing, your entire core already gets a workout, albeit without your noticing it. Activating the core puts you on the right track to reducing flab around your mid-section, specifically your abdominal area. To up your advantage, try performing these two exercises, which further confirm why in comparing standing vs. sitting calories, you burn more with the former.


Additional Tool: Dumbbells

Starting Position: Stand with your feet together. Each hand should hold a dumbbell.

Step 1: Raise both arms up while holding dumbbells firmly in both hands. Keep your arms straight.

Step 2: Lean to your left and hold position for 10 counts.

Step 3: Return to the middle with both arms still raised.

Step 4: Lean to your right and hold position for another 10 counts.

Step 5: Return to the center with both arms still raised.

Step 6: Repeat 5 times for each side.


Starting Position: Stand with your feet wide apart (as wide as your hips). Clasp hands at the back of your head.

Step 1: Lift your left knee while keeping the right leg straight.

Step 2: Close your right elbow in going to the center, so it touches the left knee.

Step 3: Come back up to the center.

Step 4: Lift your right knee while keeping the left leg straight.

Step 5: Close your left elbow in going to the center, so it touches the right knee.

Step 6: Come back up to the center.

Step 7: Repeat steps 1-6 for 16 counts.

More Strength Training: Your Standing Desk Exercise Machine

You cannot expect to grow your muscles like that of a bodybuilder while doing standing exercise at your desk. However, you can strengthen them effectively by doing these arm exercises while sitting at your desk (or standing). Strength training does not only keep your muscles healthy, but it also builds up bones while improving metabolism. It works by placing resistance to a specific muscle, which makes it exert force.


Additional Tool: 0.5-2 lbs. dumbbells

Starting Position: Stand (or sit) with your feet apart. Each hand should hold a dumbbell.

Step 1: Lift dumbbells up to your shoulders by curling your lower arms at the same time.Do this for two sets of 8 counts each.

Step 2: Go back to starting position.

Step 3: Do the same exercise in step 1, but this time with your left arm only. Do this for two sets of 8 counts each.

Step 4: Go back to starting position.

Step 5: Do the same exercise in step 1, but this time with your right arm only. Do this for two sets of 8 counts each.


Starting Position: Use the edge of the desk for support by placing your hands on them. As you do this, stretch your legs out behind you.

Step 1: Lower your chest to the desk, bending your arms as you do so.

Step 2: Go back up to starting position.

Step 3: Repeat for 8-16 counts.

Note: This exercise works well in strengthening and toning the deltoids and triceps muscles. To ensure safety, place an adequate amount of weight on your desk, so it will not tip over when you start exercising.

Increase Your Flexibility by Doing Back and Neck Exercises at Your Desk

Keeping yourself flexible and limber is easy: Always do stretch exercise while at your standing desk. When you are flexible, your joints move easily. They can carry out a full range of motions with less risk of injuries.

Of the different types of exercise you can do include neck exercises at your desk, stretching(which is one of the simplest) and more. Because you can do it in place, you remain at your workstation while you work those muscles. Here are two effective moves you should try:


Starting Position: Stand or sit with your back straight and feet together. Move slowly and fluidly.

Step 1: Tilt your head forward until your chin rests on your chest. Hold your pose for 15-30 seconds

Step 2: Breathe in, breathe out and then relax as you raise your head back to a neutral position. Keep still for 15-30.

Step 3: Look up towards the ceiling with your chin pointing upwards and the base of your skull resting on your back. Hold for 10 seconds.

Step 4: Go back to starting position.

Step 5: Repeat two more times.


Starting Position: Stand with your back straight and feet together. Make sure that you suck your stomach in and your butt is jutting out.

Step 1: Bend your right knee and lift it close to your chest while you keep your left leg down with the foot placed flat on the floor.

Step 2: Put your hands on your hips as you place your bent right knee on the desk.

Step 3: Hold your position for a count of 10.

Step 4: Go back to starting position.

Step 5: Do the same exercise in step 1, but this time with your left leg.

Note: Up the intensity by placing your hands on the sides of the desk as you lean forward with one leg on the desk. Feel the stretch and hold for a few seconds.


Starting Position: Stand with your back straight and feet together. Make sure that you suck your stomach in and your butt is jutting out.

Step 1: Lift your left leg and put your foot on top of the desk.

Step 2: Keep the leg straight, forming a 90-degree angle to the floor. Put your hands on your hips.

Step 3: Hold your position for a count of 10.

Step 4: Put your leg down and go back to starting position.

Step 5: Do the same exercise in step 1, but this time with right leg.

StandDesk: Your Work and Exercise Equipment Rolled into One

In conclusion, the key to staying healthy while working is to vary your movements from time to time. So even if you are standing, you still risk suffering from adverse health complications if you stay that way for too long. However, with standing desk vs. sitting desk, a standing desk allows you to shift from one position to another.

But do not think that it could substitute gym equipment. The exercise at your standing desk should not be complex. Although simple, the exercises detailed herein are effective, and they keep you from staying frozen in place for hours on end.

Because you will be using your desk for support in all these exercises, it is important to get a unit that is not only functional but also stable. Apart from the role that it will play during exercise, your Standdesk will be your “stable” work companion for a long time. bj