Saint Louis University

Julia Henderson-Kalb, a Saint Louis University occupational therapist, suggests these simple exercises that can be incorporated into your work day.

Stretches
Wrist & Forearm: Press hands together in front of chest, elbows bent and parallel to the floor. Gently bend wrists to the right and left for 10 reps.
Lower Back Stretch: Sit tall and place the left arm behind left hip. Gently twist to the left, using the right hand to deepen the stretch, holding for 15-20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Neck Stretches: Slowly tilt your neck to your right shoulder and then to your left. Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds.
Arm and Shoulders: Pull your arm across your chest, hook your other arm around it to pull the tension out of your upper back and rear shoulders. Hold for 15-20 seconds on each side.
Back and Legs: Lean forward at the waist either from the standing or sitting position and bring your chest toward your thighs. Slowly try to straighten your legs, stretching your hamstrings. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Thigh Stretch: Sit on left edge of your chair or stand. Grab your left ankle and pull it upward toward your buttocks. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Switch sides.
Calves Stretch: Stand and lean into your desk with your heels on the floor. Bend your knees slightly to stretch your Achilles tendons. Hold for 15-20 seconds.

Henderson-Kalb demonstrates some exercises that can be performed at your desk.

 

Lower Body Exercises
Hip Flexion: Sit tall with the abs in and lift the left foot off the floor a few inches, knee bent. Hold for 5 seconds, lower and repeat for 10-15 reps. Repeat on the other side.
Leg Extension: Sit tall with the abs in and extend the left leg until it's level with hip, squeezing the quadriceps. Hold for 5 seconds, lower and repeat for 10-15 reps. Repeat on the other side.
Legs Squats: Stand in front of your chair and repeat sitting down and standing up 10-15 times.
Inner Thigh: Place a rolled towel or firm water bottle between the knees as you sit up tall with the abs in. Squeeze the bottle or cup, release halfway and squeeze again, completing 10-15 reps of slow pulses.

Upper Body Exercises

Shoulder Shrugs: Just pull your shoulders as high as you can and roll them forward ten times and backward 10-15 times.
Assisted Push-up: In the office, lean up against your desk and push yourself away from the desk while in a leaning position. Repeat this for 10-15 repetitions.
Bicep Curl: Hold a weight or a water bottle in right hand and, with abs in and spine straight, curl bottle towards shoulder for 10-15 reps. Repeat other side.
Front Raise to Triceps Press: Sit tall with the abs in and hold a full water bottle in the left hand. Lift the bottle up to shoulder level, pause, and then continue lifting all the way up over the head. When the arm is next to the ear, bend the elbow, taking the water bottle behind you and contracting the triceps. Straighten the arm and lower down, repeating for 10-15 reps on each arm.
Dips: Make sure chair is stable and place hands next to hips. Move hips in front of chair and bend the elbows, lowering the body until the elbows are at 90 degrees. Push back up and repeat for 10-15 reps.
One-Leg Squat: Make sure the chair is stable and take one foot slightly in front of the other. Use the hands for leverage as you push up into a one-legged squat, hovering just over the chair and keeping the other leg on the floor for balance. Lower and repeat, only coming a few inches off the chair for 10-15 reps. Repeat on the other side.

Abdominal Exercises
Side Bends:
Hold a water bottle with both hands and stretch it up over the head, arms straight. Gently bend towards the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Come back to center and repeat to the right. Complete 10-15 reps (bending to the right and left is one rep).
Ab Twists: Hold the water bottle at chest level and, keeping the knees and hips forward, gently twist to the left as far as you comfortably can, feeling the abs contract. Twist back to center and move to the left for a total of 10-15 reps.  Be sure not to force the movement to avoid a back injury.