Deskercise: Getting active while sitting

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ISTOCK (RYANJLANE)
Doing "deskercises" can go a long way to preventing long term injuries and strains.

These days, students are sitting at their computers for long periods of time, which translates into endless hours of sitting in a chair all day. Going out to exercise is key to keeping in shape, but for those who don’t have the time to do so there are other ways to workout without ever leaving your seat. Deskercise, a term combining the words “desk” and “exercise”, are mini workouts that focus on different parts of the body while sitting at a desk or in an office. You can feel the burn without leaving your seat, which is great for those long days of lectures. Deskercise helps the body stay active while the mind stays focused on the lesson. Try some of the deskercises listed below to stay fit at the desk.

Back and Neck

The pencil pinch

Navigator. Londons student lifestyles magazine.

Target: back

A really simple exercise that you can keep under wraps even in the classroom. Just roll the back of your shoulder blades together as if you were holding a pencil between them and hold the pose for five to ten seconds. Release then repeat the process about ten to fifteen times, or until you are satisfied.

The nape shaper

Target: neck

This exercise can make you look unnecessarily tired, so make sure not to do it in a lecture in front of your professor. Place the bottom of the palms of your hand on your forehead right above your brow. Push against your forehead, but use your neck muscles to fight against the force. Hold the pressure for a few breaths then slowly release and repeat the process as many times as you feel comfortable. For an alternate version, clasp your hands behind your neck and lean back against them as if leaning back casually.

Straight-Arm squeeze

Target: shoulders, triceps, back

Sit up straight in your chair with feet together. Place your hands palm inwards to grab the back of your chair. Using yours hands as anchors, pull your arms in against the back of the chair. Do this about 10 times. Try also moving your hands up or down the back of the seat to make the workout harder.


The fab abs squeeze

Target: core

No one will notice at all when you are toning your abs with this exercise. Take a breath and tighten the abdominal muscles. When you exhale bring the abs even further towards the spine holding this position for about five to 15 seconds. Release and repeat the process any number of reps you want.

The desk swivel

Target: core

Have a wheely chair that you can’t get enough of moving around in? Try using it for this workout when you want to have fun. Sit upright with feet hovering above the floor. Hold onto the edge of your desk with your hands. With only your core, swivel the chair around from side to side, twisting those oblique abs into shape.

Legs and glutes

The silent squeeze

Target: glutes

A workout that can be totally kept under wraps. Simply squeeze the glutes and hold it for five to ten seconds before releasing. Repeat as many times as you want, or until whatever lecture you are in is done and enjoy toning your buttocks without putting your body through hours of sweaty exercise.

The seated leg raiser

Target: legs

Easy to hide underneath your desk, leg raising targets toning your leg muscles from your calves to your thighs. Lift either one or both legs up in the air and hold them there for a few seconds. Lower them to the ground, without letting them touch it and then raise them again and hold once more. Do this for any amount of times you want or just until your legs feel a little jelly like.

Shoulders and arms

The stapler curl

Target: arms, shoulders

If you have to read a long article or passage from a textbook try to do some stapler curls to help keep things interesting. All you have to do is take your trusty stapler and palm facing upward, bring your hand from your thigh and curl it up to your chest just like a normal biceps curl. Switch hands after 12 to 15 reps. If you don’t have a hefty stapler use a heavy water bottle or pencil case as substitutes.

For more deskercises not listed, check out and for more ways to exercise while you study.