We all know staying active is essential to living a long and healthy life. That may be one reason why many individuals make the leap and purchase a standing desk.
However, simply standing all day doesn’t quite count as exercise. That doesn’t mean it’s not better than sitting all day--it burns a few more calories and encourages your body to stay alert. But it doesn’t provide the same cardiovascular benefits real exercise does.
Luckily, integrating a few exercises into your standing desk routine is easy and a great way to stay active throughout the day. Here are a few of our favorite exercises we like to squeeze in during a busy workday.
Table of Contents
Squats are a classic glute exercise that anyone can do. The good part about using a standing desk is that you should already be standing hip-width apart, so you can pause what you’re doing and do a few squats almost immediately.
The most important thing to remember when squatting is to sit and lean back. You do not want your knees to pass your toes when you squat, as this means you’re shifting your weight forward.
Feeling up for a challenge? Keep a kettlebell or a mini resistance band near your desk to challenge your glutes. This will encourage muscle growth and help burn more calories. Strength training is particularly important for older individuals, so we highly recommend this for adults concerned about bone density.
2. Calf Raises
Did you know some people pay thousands of dollars for calf implants? Well, if you consistently do calf raises at your standing desk, you’ll be able to grow those lower-leg muscles without going under the knife!
You should already be in the optimal starting position for calf raises. Make sure your feet are standing apart comfortably and grounded into the floor. Slowly raise both heels off the ground, giving your calves a squeeze when you reach the top.
You can play with how fast or slow you do this movement. Slower movements will test your muscles more, so don’t think you have to move quickly to see results or feel ‘the burn’.
If you want to challenge yourself even more, you could add a couple of pulses at the top of the movement. This will test the control you have over that muscle group and makes the move more dynamic. You could also hold a weight for extra resistance.
3. Standing Push Ups
A traditional push up can be challenging for some individuals. Luckily, a standing desk push up is easier to do without compromising on your workout.
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure your desk is stable. Most standing desks are quite sturdy, but the last thing you want to do is accidentally tip it over because you put your weight on it.
Once that’s sorted, put your hands on the end of the desk a little wider than your shoulders. Move your feet back so you’re leaning on the desk and distributing most of your weight to your upper body. From there, you can slowly bend your elbows and bring your chest down to the desk then push yourself back up.
Make sure you aren’t just bending your arms while your legs support your body. This won’t be an effective workout, although you might get a little shoulder and chest stretch through it.
You could also bring your arms in closer and keep your elbows close to your body when you lower yourself down for a variation. Just remember to move slowly at first and try to gently tap your chest to the desk before coming back up.
4. Standing Crunches
We love this exercise! Your abdominal muscles are the center of your body, so it’s difficult to overestimate the importance of keeping them strong and engaged. Strong abs mean better posture and improved performance in other physical activities.
Starting with your legs apart and your arms on the back of your head with your elbows bent. Raise one leg and bend the opposite elbow, so they meet in the middle of your body. Squeeze your abdominal muscles, and you pull both sides together.
You can either do ten to fifteen reps on one side then repeat to the other side or alternate between both sides. Don’t be afraid to take breaks in between reps. It’s better to do fewer where your abs are engaged properly then several without the proper form.
Add a little hop when you crunch inwards for some added cardio! This is also a great opportunity to work on your balance, which is important as you age.
Lunges are great for your glutes and quads (thighs). You can lunge forward or backward, depending on what’s more comfortable for you. Beginners tend to prefer lunging forward as it lets them see what they’re doing and keeps them balanced.
To lunge forward, start with your feet grounded then bring one foot forward and bend both knees. Your back knee can gently tap the floor, but it doesn’t have to if that doesn’t feel comfortable for you. Afterward, push yourself back up, straighten your legs, and bring the front foot back to center. Repeat with the other side.
You can add a few pulses to make this exercise more intense. We like to do two or three pulses before returning to the starting position.
Holding a kettlebell will further intensify this exercise. Make sure to prioritize form overweight, there’s no use carrying a lot of weight if you aren’t doing the exercise correctly.
6. Side Lunges
Side lunges are another variation of a classic front lunge. They put more focus on your glutes, which will help you stand for longer. Similar to when doing a traditional squat, it is important to sit back in a side lunge instead of leaning forward.
Spread your legs until they are well past your shoulders. You should still feel balanced and secure in this stance. Bend one knee and sit back into that leg. This will feel similar to a single-legged squat. Your other leg should be relaxed, you can even prop it up on its heel.
Once fully seated into that leg, push yourself back up into a wide standing position. Repeat on the other side. We recommend moving down slowly and coming back up quickly in an explosive but still controlled movement. You could even add a little hop at the top.
This move can feel a little awkward at first, so go into it slowly and get used to the sensation before doing multiple reps. Once again, the addition of a kettlebell is welcomed.
7. Walk in Place
Everyone loves a nice stroll. On days when you can tear yourself away from your work, or the weather isn’t on your side, enjoy walking (or marching) in place.
This is pretty self explanatory. Raise on foot and bring it back down, then raise the other. If this is done at a relatively quick pace, your body will feel like it’s taking a walk instead of standing in the middle of a hectic office.
This is a great movement to make sure you don’t stay still for long periods. The worst thing you can do for your body at a standing desk is not move, so this is a low-effort way to keep your blood pumping and limbs active.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the pace every now and then--have fun with it!
8. Jump Squats
We’ve saved this one for last, because it’s most likely to get your heart racing and leave you feeling like you just ran around the block. We love jump squats. They’re challenging, fun, and can be done right at your standing desk.
Jump squats look similar to traditional squats, except, instead of standing back up normally, you jump into the air, extending your legs completely and bringing your feet off the ground for a moment. This is supposed to be an explosive movement--so really go for it!
If you want to jump higher, swing your arms up in the air as you jump up. You will need plenty of space in front of you to do this, so step back from your desk beforehand. Ten or twenty of these squats will leave you feeling flushed and refreshed, but you can do as many or as few as feels good for you.
To Wrap Things Up
Staying active at a standing desk is convenient and achievable. You’re already standing up, so doing a few calf lifts or side lunges should be easier. Remember, a standing desk does get you out of a chair, but you still need to be moving around. Standing still, even on your feet, is not good for you.
Keep your abs engaged during all of these exercises and even when you aren’t working out. This will help you maintain a healthy posture.
What’s your favorite way to workout at your standing desk? Do you like lower body or abdominal exercises more? Let us know in the comments below!
Good luck staying healthy and fit at your standing desk!