Blog Fitness Standing Desk Workouts: 10 Exercises For When You’re Stuck At Work

Standing Desk Workouts: 10 Exercises For When You’re Stuck At Work

Long hours spent at a desk can take a toll on your body and mind. Aches, pains and fatigue can set in if you’re not getting up to move around every so often. Good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Research shows that regular movement and exercise can help improve your concentration and focus, helping you to work more efficiently (1). That’s why it’s important to make time for a little physical activity throughout your day — even if you are stuck at a desk. For those who use standing desks, or have the ability to stand, there are plenty of exercises you can do right at your desk. Here are 10 exercises to help boost energy, improve focus and keep your body feeling great while you work.


What Exercises To Do While Standing At A Desk

You know what they say, sitting is the new smoking (5). With many of us spending long hours in front of screens, it’s no wonder why standing desks are picking up popularity a lot quicker than those Tamagotchis from the 90s. 

Not only do they combat the negative effects of sitting for extended periods, but they also promote better posture and increased energy levels (3) (4). And let’s be real, who doesn’t want their colleagues to think they’re a high-powered CEO while standing tall and commanding the room?

Even if you’re working from home, using a standing desk is the perfect way to stay productive and energized — but how do you make sure you’re getting enough movement throughout the day?

Standing for extended periods of time can be hard on your body, unless you’re taking regular breaks to do some quick exercises. Here are 10 simple, yet effective, exercises you can do while standing at your desk: 

1. Walking On The Spot (Full Body Exercise)

Walking is one of the most effective yet basic exercises that really get your heart rate up (6). It’s recommended for at least 30 minutes a day, but if you’re stuck at the office all day, just take a few minutes to walk on the spot. Make this exercise even more challenging by:

  • Lifting your knees higher
  • Using hand weights for a more intense workout 
  • Adding small jumps in between steps
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standing desk workouts

2. Wall Squats (Target Muscles – Glutes, Legs & Core)

The back takes quite a lot of strain if you’re standing in the same spot for hours on end, so why not take a few minutes to do some wall squats? This exercise targets both your legs and core muscles, helping to strengthen and stretch them. All you need is a wall, and these steps:

  • Find a wall and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Lean against the wall, while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
  • Then, bend your knees to lower your hips towards the floor, until your upper legs are parallel with it. 
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then stand back up.
  • Repeat the steps until you’ve done 10 wall squats. 

3. Heel Raises (Target Muscles – Calves & Lower Legs)

Supporting your body weight while standing can strain your calves and lower legs. Stretching and strengthening these muscles can help reduce the discomfort. Heel raises are simple, yet effective exercises which target this specific muscle group. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet flat on the ground, facing forward. 
  • Raise your heels off the floor and hold for a few seconds.
  • Then, lower your heels back to the floor. 
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times and then switch legs. 

4. Calf Raises (Target Muscles – Calves & Lower Legs)

Calf raises are an excellent way to strengthen your calf and lower-leg muscles. It helps increase joint mobility and stability, while also preventing muscle soreness. Here’s how to do a calf raise: 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Shift your weight onto one foot and lift the other off the ground.
  • Raise your lifted foot until you are standing on the toes of that foot. 
  • Hold for a few seconds then lower back down. 
  • Repeat this 10 times, then switch feet and do another set of 10 repetitions. 
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5. Glute Squeezes (Target Muscles – Glutes & Core)

Glute squeezes are among the best workouts to do standing at the desk, as they target your glutes, core and legs. This exercise helps to strengthen your muscles, while also improving posture. Here is how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Squeeze your glutes together, then hold for a few seconds. 
  • Release the squeeze and relax your glutes. 
  • Repeat this 10 times for a quick, yet effective exercise. 

6. Ankle Rotations (Target Muscles – Ankles & Lower Legs)

Your ankles take a lot of strain if you’ve been standing in the same spot for a while. Doing ankle rotations is an easy way to stretch and strengthen them. Here’s how to do an ankle rotation:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Slowly rotate your ankles in a circular motion, 10 times clockwise and then 10 times counter-clockwise.
  • Make sure to do this exercise slowly and with control, to get the most out of it. 
  • Hold onto a chair or wall if needed, for balance.

standing desk workouts

7. Arm Circles And Stretches (Target Muscles – Shoulders & Arms)

We often forget that our arms and shoulders also need to be taken care of. The typing, swiping, and scrolling motions can lead to tightness in the arms, shoulders and upper back. Arm circles are a great way to loosen these muscles and keep them flexible. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and extend both arms out to the sides. 
  • Gently move your arms in circles, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. 
  • Repeat 20 times in each direction. 
  • Next, stretch your arms out to the side and hold for 10 seconds. 
  • Lower your right arm across your body, stretching the left arm out. 
  • Repeat this stretch on the other side and hold for 10 seconds each time.

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8. Shoulder Rotations And Shrugs (Target Muscles – Shoulders & Upper Back)

Tightness in the shoulders is a common problem when standing for too long. It’s more likely when you’re not using an ergonomic desk setup that allows your eyes to be at the same level as your screen. As such, you might slump your shoulders forward and put extra strain on them. 

To help relieve the tension, do some shoulder rotations:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Raise your shoulders, then rotate them in a circular motion for 30 seconds. 
  • Repeat the steps 10 times.
  • Then, move onto some shoulder shrugs. 
  • In the same standing position, pull your shoulders up towards your ears. 
  • Then, release them back down to the starting position. 
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times. 

9. Wall-Assisted Push-Ups (Target Muscles – Arms, Chest & Core)

Wall-assisted push-ups are an excellent way to strengthen your arms, chest and core. This exercise works your upper body muscles while helping to improve balance and posture. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on a wall at shoulder height. 
  • Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the wall, keeping your back straight. 
  • Then, push yourself back up to the starting position. 
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times for a quick and effective workout. 

Instead of using the wall for your push-ups, you can also do them against the standing desk.

Ensure you are wearing comfortable shoes and that your feet are not too far away from the desk. Then, put both hands on the surface of the desk and follow the same steps as you would for a wall-assisted push-up. 

10. Twisting Torso (Target Muscles – Core, Back & Shoulders)

The twisting torso exercise is great for stretching and strengthening your core, back and shoulders. It helps to improve your balance and posture, as well as increase blood circulation throughout the body. Here’s how to do a twisting torso stretch at your standing desk:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold onto the desk for balance. 
  • Twist your torso to one side, hold for a few seconds and then twist to the other side. 
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side. 
  • Focus on keeping your back straight and try to move with control throughout the exercise.
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standing desk workouts

How To Use Your Standing Desk Properly For Maximum Benefit

Discomfort while standing at a desk is common, but it doesn’t have to be. Using your standing desk properly can help you get more out of your work day without experiencing any pain. Here are some tips to follow: 

Create Intervals For Sitting And Standing

Think of these two positions as a work-break schedule. Your body will thank you for alternating between the two throughout the day. 

Start off small by standing for 10 minutes, then sitting for 20. Over time, you can increase the amount of time you spend standing. During the sitting intervals, ensure that you are sitting with proper posture. This will reduce the strain on your neck and back. 

Adjust Your Desk To The Right Height

In order for your standing desk to be effective, it needs to be adjusted to the correct height. This will ensure that you are standing at an ergonomic level and not putting excess strain on your body. 

The ideal height should be at the level of your elbows when your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle. 

Use Ergonomic Accessories

Using ergonomic accessories can help make your standing desk even more comfortable. 

Make sure you have a supportive chair, an anti-fatigue mat, and a footrest to provide extra support for your feet. You may even consider investing in wrist or forearm supports to help alleviate any strain on your arms. 

Don’t Neglect Your Feet

Your feet are the foundation of this standing desk setup and should not be neglected. Make sure that you are wearing supportive shoes and standing on an anti-fatigue mat. 

You can also try shifting your weight from one foot to the other every few minutes, or doing a few foot exercises throughout the day. 

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Check Your Standing Posture

You’ve heard plenty about proper posture while seated, but it’s just as important to maintain good standing posture (2). Check the following points

  • Keep your shoulders back, head up, and core engaged. 
  • Make sure that your feet are hip-width apart and firmly planted on the ground. 
  • Spread your weight evenly across both feet. 
  • Avoid leaning to one side or arching your back.
  • Avoid locking your knees. 
  • Periodically move your arms and torso to keep relaxed.

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Limit How Long You’re At Your Standing Desk 

While standing desks are beneficial, they should not be the only way you work. Limit how long you are at your standing desk and make sure to take breaks throughout the day. It’s important to step away from your desk and move around for at least 5 minutes every hour. 

Taking an occasional walk or stretching can also be beneficial. 

Ensure Proper Cable Management

One of the major drawbacks to having a standing desk is that it can create a mess with all of the cables and wires. 

If you decide to do a standing desk workout in the midst of a chaotic workspace, you may injure yourself. Make sure all cables are properly secured and out of the way to minimize the chances of tripping over them. 

The Bottom Line

You can use the standing desk to do more than just type and read. Taking a few minutes out of your day to do simple exercises can help you stay fit and healthy, even when you’re stuck at the office! Also, be sure to follow the tips above to ensure that you’re using your standing desk properly and getting the most out of it.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Exercise for Mental Health (2006,
  2. Posture (n.d.,
  3. Taking a Stand: The Effects of Standing Desks on Task Performance and Engagement (2017,
  4. The Impact of Standing Desks on Cardiometabolic and Vascular Health (2021,
  5. Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior (2012,
  6. Walking to Health (2012,
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