10 Best Standing Desk Exercises (Less Pain, More Energy)

Office work has a lot to answer for. Not only does it have us staring at screens all day. It’s also the reason why so many of us suffer from back pain through a lack of movement.

That’s where standing desk exercises come in.

We all know that sitting still all day is not good for us. And chances are that if you’re already using a standing desk, you’re quite clued up on good posture and staying healthy.

But simply standing is not enough. The human body was built to move. That’s why introducing some exercises into your working day can make a world of difference.

Wondering where to start? Then look no further. We’ve got the ten best standing desk exercises that can be done while you work.

1. Back stretch

Even using a standing desk can’t eliminate the possibility of slouching. The difference is, when standing, it will probably mean leaning to one side. Or leaning forward onto hands to look at a screen.

This might not be as damaging as the hunched over ‘C’ position that most people adopt when sitting at a desk. But bad posture while standing can still have an impact. Thankfully, a good back stretch can help to ease tension and strengthen the spine.

An easy stretch involves looking at the ceiling and arching the back. Just enough to feel a stretch. You can place your hands on the bottom of your back if it helps. Then hold for five seconds. Repeat five to eight times for maximum benefit.

2. Marching on the spot

This is a good one to get the blood pumping.

If you’re new to exercising, then start off small by marching on the spot for a few minutes at a time. As you build up fitness, march for longer and introduce arm movements to really get the whole body moving.

Not only is this good for general fitness and strengthening your back, but the movement will release mood-boosting endorphins.

So, marching on the spot can really make a positive difference to your working day.

3. Squeeze your glutes

Strong glutes can really help protect your back from injury. Plus, a toned tushy just looks good. So this is a win-win exercise.

It’s also super easy to do and your colleagues probably won’t even notice.

While standing, squeeze the glutes and hold for around 45 seconds. Then release and relax. Repeat several times throughout the day and gradually increase the amount of time holding the posture.

4. Leg extensions

Leg extensions are a great way to strengthen the core. And we all know a strong core is essential for a healthy back.

The first step is to engage your core and place your hands on your hips. This will help to stay balanced and support the lower back. Then extend one leg behind you. The movement should encourage you to engage your glutes as well. Hold for five-seconds and then bring the leg back to centre.

Do 10 to 15 repetitions before moving on to the other leg.

Related: Want some extra core work while standing at work? Check out our review of the best standing desk balance boards

5. Hamstring stretch

Tight hamstrings can lead to muscle stiffness and decreased mobility. But there is something you can do to release the pressure.

Raise your leg and rest it on a stool or chair. Flex your feet back towards your body and lean forward at the hips. If possible, grab the foot with your hands. If not, rest your hands on your hips and lean into the stretch.

Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs. For some people, this exercise can feel intense. But it’s well worth it to really loosen up the hamstrings.

6. Desk push ups

To build upper body strength and work the back muscles, try push ups. As long as your desk is strong enough to take your weight.

Desk Push Ups at Work

This is how to do a push up while standing:

  • Stand two feet away from the desk
  • Lean forward and place your hands on the desk
  • Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the desk with control
  • Keep the elbows close to your body
  • Push back up and repeat 10 to 15 times

To get the most out of this exercise, try to do three sets. And if 10 push ups are too much, aim for five and gradually work up as you build strength.

7. Squats

This one is all about the glutes.

As the largest muscle in the body, it’s so important to exercise the gluteus maximus. But it’s often forgotten, leading to lower back pain. Squats are a way to rectify this.

Start by placing your feet shoulder width apart. Then slowly bend the knees and push the buttocks out, holding the pose for 10 seconds.

Be sure to keep the knees behind the toes. You can check this by glancing down and modifying if needed.

For best results do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Related: Why you should choose an anti-fatigue mat for your standing desk

8. Side stretch

A side stretch is a lovely way to open the body after a long period of standing still. And if you’re a practicing yogi, you’ll be familiar with this move.

To do a side stretch properly, start by standing with a neutral spine. Then bring your arms together above your head and lift your ribcage. Inhale and gently stretch to one side as you exhale. Inhale to come back to center and repeat on the other side.

9. Standing abs workout

For most people that have tried an ab workout, it probably involved lying on the floor and crunching the torso towards the knees. However, you don’t have to lie on the floor to work those abs. You can do it standing up.

The easiest technique is to practice standing on one leg and keeping your back straight with your core engaged. The need to balance will strengthen your abs. Then switch legs and do the same on the other side.

The simplicity of this exercise means it can be repeated throughout the day whenever you need to inject some movement.

10. Calf raises

This is another gentle, easy exercise to introduce into the working day without disturbing your co-workers.

Start by standing with your feet hip width apart and your back straight. Raise your heels and push up through the balls of your feet. You will end up standing on your toes. Hold for five seconds and lower down.

You can repeat this several times and even hold the pose for longer if it feels comfortable.  As an added bonus, this is a good move for runners to really stretch out the calf and prevent injury.

Feel better with exercise

There you go. A selection of the best standing desk exercises to incorporate into your working day at the office.

Remember, regular movement is not just good for your muscles. It’s important for overall health and wellbeing as well. So, make sure you stay active. Even when working.

Medical Disclaimer

Please note: We are not doctors. Although we research these topics thoroughly, the information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Learn More