25 Office Exercises (and Why They’re Good for Business)

Less than a third of adults get the recommended amount of steps in each day, and most Americans are not reaching minimum recommended amounts of aerobic or strength-training exercises every week. One reason is that many people spend much of their day at an office desk job. Encouraging office exercise is a great policy that helps employees address their health, and it’s also beneficial for your business. Find out more below.


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What are office exercises?

Office exercises are movements you can do in a small space, such as right at a desk in your office or cubicle. They don’t require special equipment or clothing, and you can do one or two of the exercises in just a few minutes to get some movement into your day.


Why are office exercises good for your business?

Exercising in the office can bring a variety of benefits to your team members and your business. Here are just a few common reasons companies might want to encourage movement throughout the day.

  • Improved employee morale. Exercise can reduce stress, improve sleep and provide a number of other personal benefits—all of which combine to help people feel healthier and happier. When your employees feel better, they may treat each other better and contribute to more positive team cultures. On top of this, when you encourage your team members to exercise and even allot time in the workday for movement, you demonstrate that you care about employees as human beings. That can also increase employee morale.
  • Increased productivity. Employees who feel better and have increased morale are generally more productive. They’re able to focus more on the task at hand and complete work at a quicker pace. Office exercise can also help stave off issues such as the 3pm slump by energizing the body and brain with some brisk movements.
  • Reduced health care costs. Regular physical exercise offers a number of preventative health benefits, including reducing the risks of conditions such as stroke, depression, high blood pressure and certain types of diabetes and cancer. When employees are less likely overall to experience such issues, your employer-related health care costs may be reduced. You might also see a reduction in absenteeism or attrition related to health issues.
  • Better team building. Employees who exercise together or encourage each other are partaking in team building, possibly without realizing it. That team mindset can carry over into business tasks with positive results.

Tips for encouraging exercising in the office

Before you can reap the benefits of office exercise, you need to get most employees on board with the concept. Here are some tips for doing so.

  • Send an email explaining office exercise and why it’s important. Let people know they’re allowed to take a certain amount of their workday to complete such exercises if desired.
  • Create a rewards program. You might create a log employees can use to document each 1-3 minute office exercise session they complete. Then, you can provide a small reward for those that do a certain amount each week or month.
  • Set up group exercise times. You might make 10am and 3pm designated times for a 5-minute team exercise option. If you do, consider sending out a list of exercises everyone might try during that time with links to instructions for completing them.

Never make anything mandatory. You don’t know what health or physical limitations employees are dealing with, and each person needs to work with his or her own medical providers on such issues. But by encouraging employees to move as much as they can—and how they can—you can help create benefits for many.


25 office exercise ideas to get you started

If you want to send some office exercise ideas to your employees or create a potential team routine, here are 25 options you can choose from. Again, remember to encourage everyone to participate as they are able and to modify the exercises as needed.


  1. Stand and sit. Most people have a chair in their office, and standing and sitting back down repeatedly is exercise. This might be a good option for people who want to work out core and legs but aren’t yet ready for squats.
  2. Squats. Squats are a low-impact movement that are easy to perform in small spaces. Encourage employees to view videos to perfect their squat form and then attempt to level up on how many squats they can do in a break period each day.
  3. Lunges. Lunges can be one of the most impactful exercises for the legs, especially when done with proper form. Whether you’re doing forward or rear lunges, you might only need to do 8 to 10 on each leg to get a benefit. More experienced exercises can do sets of 8 to 10.
  4. Calf raises. This exercise is really just coming up and down off your toes. You can do them freestyle or stand behind a chair and hold the top for a bit of support. Do the movement slowly for best impact.
  5. Wall sits. For those who are ready to move on from simple squats, the wall sit provides a bit more intensity. This is also a good option for teams that want to workout and laugh together. Employees simply press their backs against the wall and lower themselves into a sitting position as if they were in a chair. Then, they hold the position for 10 to 90 seconds, depending on how long they can. You can make a competition out of it for additional fun.
  6. Marching. Marching in place briskly for a minute or two can get your heart rate up and provide movement for your legs and arms.
  7. Butt kickers. This favorite of cross-country running teams gets the heart rate up while stretching important muscles in the legs. You simply run in place while attempting to bring your heels to your butt with each step.
  8. Chair leg raises. Sit in your chair with your feet on the ground and together. Slowly bring your legs out straight, together, in front of you, to complete this core-building move.
  9. Arm circles. Arm circles are a staple of warm-ups, but they’re also great for getting some movement in your office. You simply stand or sit with your arms straight out to either side and move your hands around in small circles. You can go one way for a while and then reverse the move to work a few different muscles.
  10. Tricep dips. This is a more advanced move for those who want to build tricep muscles. You’ll need a sturdy chair or desk—not a chair with wheels. You face away from the piece of furniture and put your hands on it. Then, using your arms, you lift yourself down and then up. Encourage employees to view videos for form before trying this one.
  11. Push ups. Push ups can be done on the floor in the office. But they can also be modified, and employees can use desks or walls as support. This makes the exercise easier to complete and reduces the floor space required.
  12. Bicep curl. You normally see this exercise being completed with hand or free weights, but employees can go through the motions without weights. They can also use small office supplies, like a stapler, or keep a small set of hand weights in their desk. With bicep curls, you hold one or both arms at your side with palms facing forward. You then curl the arm up at the elbow slowly, releasing it back down slowly and repeating the movement for a set of 8 or 10.
  13. Overhead tricep extensions. These can also be done with or without weights. You hold your arms up over your head. The hands are either holding the same weight or pressed together. Then, you lower the arms over the back of your head, bending them at the elbows. You slowly bring them back up into the straight position and repeat.
  14. Lateral raise. You hold your arms hanging at your side with or without weights. Slowly, you bring them up away from your side as if you’re flapping wings. Once your arms are horizontal to the ground, you bring them slowly back down and repeat.
  15. Butterfly shoulder press. This is another that works with or without weights. Start by holding both arms in front of you with a 90-degree bend at the elbows and hands pointed up. Bring your elbows from your front to your sides. Then, unbend them and press your hands or weights up toward the sky. Complete the movement backwards to return to the original position before repeating it.
  16. Jumping Jacks. Jumping jacks are a fast way to get the blood pumping, and they might also allow for pent-up stress energy to be released. You can easily modify this exercise to take out the jumps, only stepping side to side as you raise your arms.
  17. Crunches. Crunches help build the core and you only need a little room in an office or cubicle to lay down. Employees can modify this exercise to fit their needs, as there are plenty of crunch types and levels.
  18. Bicycle crunches in your chair. An alternative for those that don’t want to or can’t get down on the floor, this exercise simply has you doing a crunch from a seated position in your chair. You hold your arms and body as if you’re doing floor crunches, but you bring your knee up and your elbow down to complete each move.
  19. Neck rolls. Neck rolls are a great way to alleviate shoulder and neck stress that might have built up while you were working. You dip your chin forward to your chest. Then, you roll your head slowly around toward the back until your chin is up. To complete the move, you continue to roll your head the other direction until your chin is dipped into your chest again.
  20. Twist. Twists can be a lot of fun to do as a team. Put some music one and get everyone up to twist. They can do the actual dance move or simply rotate their upper body back and forth. This one lets each team member participate the way they’re able, as you can also do it from a chair.
  21. Wrist stretches and rolls. Wrist exercises can be beneficial for those who type or use a mouse a lot. You simply press the palms against each other or the desk to stretch out the wrist. Then, you roll your hands in much the same way as described in the neck roll above.
  22. Shadow boxing. Shadow boxing can be a fun, quick way to get the heart rate up. If your employees are interested in this one, consider putting out a 3-minute boxing routine each day. For example, you might suggest a round of Jab-Jab-Cross-Cross-Upper Cut-Upper Cut. Include some links to videos on boxing form when you send out suggestions.
  23. Low and high jumps. The simple act of jumping puts numerous muscles into action. Employees can modify this exercise to meet their physical needs by jumping slow, fast, low or high.
  24. Walking. You don’t necessarily need 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy, but most people do need 4,000 or more at minimum. Encourage employees to walk around the office, parking lot or up and down stairs periodically to up their step count.
  25. Burpees. If you have the space and your employees want a quick exercise that does it all, burpees can be an option. Make sure they follow good burpee form (provide some video links) and encourage them to take off their shoes if they’re wearing something with heels or slippery soles.
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