Standing Desk Workout: Stress Doesn’t Stand a Chance

Key Items

  • Sitting for long periods may shorten your life.

  • Standing desk workouts have the power to boost physical health and productivity.

  • Performing exercises and stretching as part of a standing desk workout decreases muscle tension, fatigue, weakness, and stress.

Sitting is like chewing gum. It's great for a while, but eventually, the gum goes bland, and your jaw starts to hurt. Sitting for long periods is boring and triggers pain throughout the body. Step away from the chair and the lousy gum, and look into a standing desk workout.

Standing desk workouts are an excellent way to improve your health, mood, and productivity. Using a standing desk grants short- and long-term benefits that improve your personal and work life. Plus, you get to make your coworkers jealous with a new, cool desk.

Don't Sit So Long

Sitting for too long negatively impacts the body. Resting your behind for more than a few hours at a time promotes muscle stiffness, tension, and weakness. Sitting scrunches muscles, depriving them of proper oxygen, blood, and nutrients.

Think of your body as a straw. An upright straw is easier to drink from than a bent straw. While upright, your body has more accessible oxygen and blood flow. While sitting, certain muscles experience pressure, and circulation is worse.

Standing at desk

Standing for 10 minutes each hour offsets problems associated with sitting for one hour. After sitting for an hour, your blood starts to flow more slowly, and your muscles build tension. Now you're at a higher risk of developing blood clots and muscle knots.

People who consistently sit more than eight hours a day for months have a similar risk of death compared to those who are obese or smoke. Unlike sitting, standing has benefits that lengthen your life.

Stand Tall

Christopher Travers, an exercise physiologist with Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, said, "Standing for about three hours per day can help us live longer." Standing increases muscle activation, improves insulin and blood sugar levels, promotes circulation, and decreases chronic pain.

Standing has profound benefits for your work life. Standing while working improves productivity, decreases stress, and eliminates extra energy. When standing, your brain gets more oxygen and blood flow, improving memory and thinking.

Sitting hunched over a desk slows blood and oxygen to the brain, making you mentally work harder. If you're tired of being passed up for that promotion, invest in a standing desk.

Sitting vs. Standing Desks

Sitting isn't all bad. It improves muscle fatigue, decreases stress, and allows the body to rest and recuperate. However, too much of a good thing turns into a bad thing.

Sitting desks leave little room for movement. Your legs are usually trapped underneath and abused by the corners when you accidentally bump into them. Your only hope for motion comes from a spinning chair.

Standing desks allow you to stretch your legs, extend your neck, and straighten your back. You're able to relax your shoulders, extend your arms, and better position your hands and wrists on the keyboard. Standing desks are especially beneficial for getting in a quick workout.

Neck pain sitting at desk

Standing Desk Workout

You don't need 25-pound dumbbells and sweat stains for a great workout. Using just your body and a few feet of space around you drastically changes your day. The next time you use a standing desk, try some of the following exercises to jump-start your muscles and morale.

Calf Raises

Calf raises are significant for engaging the lower legs and feet. They burn calories and strengthen your calves.

Simply stand and press up on your tiptoes to perform a calf raise. Imagine you're reaching for something on the top shelf. Hold for one to two seconds, then lower your heels back to the ground. Repeat 10 times for three rounds.


Squats engage the hips, glutes, and back. They target the muscles that are tight after sitting for too long. Step back from your desk and keep your knees and toes pointed forward.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down like you're about to sit in a chair. Don't let your knees pass your toes. Focus on holding your weight in your heels. Stand back up. Repeat 8-10 times for two to three rounds.


Lunges take up more space than squats and calf raises but engage muscles that cause hip and lower back pain. Lunges target the quads, glutes, and hip flexors.

Lunging starts by standing with your arms at your side. Take a large step forward with your right leg while leaving your left toe on the ground. Your right leg is bent, and your left leg is straight behind you. Slowly lower your left knee towards the floor.

Lunges at desk

Keep your right knee from passing over your right foot. Your goal is to use your right leg to lift and lower yourself. Use your left leg for stability. Repeat eight to 10 times for two to three sets.

Wall Push Ups

Using a mouse or keyboard activates small muscles in the neck and shoulder. Constant small movements like scrolling and typing overwork these tiny muscles. Overworked muscles develop tension and knots. Wall push-ups strengthen your shoulders so your supporting muscles can withstand more pressure.

Stand as close to the wall as possible. Take two steps back, then lean forward, resting your palms against the wall. Make sure your hands and shoulders are in line with each other. Lean towards the wall and keep your back and legs straight. Use your arms to push you back into the beginning position. Repeat until your arms start to burn for three sets.

Move on the Spot

Walk or jog in place to boost energy, endorphins, and stress relief. If you have the space, take a lap or two around your desk. Seeing you walk in place might motivate your coworkers to hop up and do the same.

Tricep Dips

Working with your hands on a desk or keyboard stresses your triceps. Strengthen these muscles in the back of your upper arms by doing tricep dips.

Sit in your chair and place your palms on the edge of the chair outside your legs. Wrap your fingers underneath the ledge. Stretch your feet in front of you, slowly lift your butt off the chair, and dangle it over the edge. Lower your butt towards the ground until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Use your arms to push yourself back up.

If your chair spins or slides, use a regular-sized desk instead. The goal is to use your triceps to push yourself back up after lowering down.

Stretching at work desk

Wall Sits

Wall sits strengthen the glutes and hips. They provide support for your back and promote good posture.

Stand with your back against the wall. Slowly slide down, walking forward with your feet but leaving your back flat. Lower yourself until it looks like you're sitting in a chair. Your thighs, calves, the floor, and the wall create a perfect square. Hold for 30 seconds, then return to standing.

Glute Squeezes

Glute squeezes are like squats without squatting. These are perfect if you have bad knees or nearby coworkers. Just squeeze your butt cheeks and hold for five to seven seconds. Relax. Repeat about 15 times on multiple occasions throughout a day of standing.

Backward Leg Raises

Another excellent way to work the glutes is backward leg raises. Take one foot and point your toes. Rest the top of your toes on the ground behind you. Keeping your leg as straight as possible, raise your foot off the ground behind you about one foot (pun intended).

It's best to feel a muscular contraction in that glute muscle when you raise your foot. Lift until you feel the squeeze. Lower it back to the ground. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.

Side Crunches

The muscles in the side promote posture and stability for the spine. Side crunches make it easier for your hips and abs to stabilize you.

Slightly spread your feet wider than your shoulders. Keep your hands and arms against your side. Lean to the right and slide your hand down the outside of your thigh. Make sure you don't poke your butt out as you lean.

When your fingertips reach your knee, pull yourself back up. Focus on using your sides to pull yourself back to a standing position. You want to crunch the muscles. Think of touching your ribcage to your hip. Perform 10 crunches on each side.

Standing Desk Stretches

Stretching is just as important as exercise. Stretching the biceps, triceps, and shoulders offset some of the negative energy that builds from working at a desk. After your workout, cool down with a few of the stretches listed below.

Stretch workout at desk

Toe Touch

The toe touch stretches the hamstrings or the muscles in the back of the thigh. It helps release tension from the glutes, hips, and quads. Keep your legs straight and lean forward, reaching for your toes.

If you're not able to reach them, that's okay. Go as far as you're able. Hold for about 10 seconds, then try to lean down more and get a deeper stretch. Take a deep breath in as you stand back up.

A word from the wise — don't smack your forehead on the desk!

Tricep Stretch

Stretching the tricep prevents the build-up of toxins and knots that plague you with pain and discomfort. Take your left hand and raise it high in the air. Keeping your elbow in place, reach down and rest your left palm on the back of your right shoulder.

Take your right hand and grab your left elbow. Gently pull it down, sliding your left hand down your back. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side for two to three sets for each arm.

Corner Stretch

The corner stretch is perfect for stretching tight shoulder and chest muscles. Stand in the corner (don't worry, you're not in trouble) and place your hands on each wall. Take a step back, then lean your upper body into the corner. You feel this stretch the more you lean forward. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat as needed.

Calf Stretch

While you're standing at the wall, go ahead and do a calf stretch. This stretch benefits the muscles on the bottom of the feet, decreasing muscle tension, soreness, and fatigue.

Stand about 12 inches away from the walk. Step forward and place the bottom of your toes on the wall with your heel on the ground. Keep your other foot in place, and gently lean forward using the wall with your hands for support. Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Resting Leg Toe Touch

While resting, performing the toe touch stretch helps stretch the muscles in the legs and back more because of less contraction from holding you up.

Find a chair and put one heel on it. Keep that leg straight, lean forward, and reach for your toes. Be sure to keep your balance and focus on pointing your hips forward. Place your hands on your hips for more balance.

Stay Prepared

You might not be able to complete a whole yoga routine behind your desk, but that doesn't mean you have to sit in a chair all day. Standing desk workouts boost your mood, productivity, and well-being. They're essential for staying healthy and combating the issues of sitting for long periods.

Using a standing desk is beneficial for a number of reasons, but adding a workout elevates them to new heights. Standing desks aren't always cheap, so performing movements at your desk ensures you get the most bang for your buck.

Stretching at desk

As a courtesy to yourself (and others), keep deodorant, body wipes, and cologne or perfume on hand. You want to work out, not make your coworkers walk out. Also, stay hydrated by always keeping a cup of water on your desk.

Ditch the spinny chair and grab a standing desk to show your boss who's boss. Subscribe to FitAndFab for more tips on fitness, stretching, and the latest and greatest workout gear.

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