How to Exercise While Working at a Standing Desk

Lawrence Bonk Profile image

Written by:

Updated February 11, 2023

If you are building the ultimate office setup, you may wonder how to exercise while working at a standing desk. The best standing desks, after all, can be turned into makeshift gyms with a little bit of forethought. So why would you exercise at a standing desk and what are some pointers to get started? Keep reading to find out.


  • Performing some simple exercises while at your standing desk for long periods of time is a great way to get healthy, and prevent heart disease while at your desk job.
  • You want to become comfortable with your desk before attempting any exercises in addition to simply standing.
  • Some popular standing desk exercises include gluteal squeezes, calf muscle raises, and hamstring curls. Using an office chair opens up more opportunities for physical activity, such as a shoulder stretch.

Why Exercise at a Standing Desk

We live relatively sedentary lifestyles, so any time we can squeeze in a bit of exercise is good for our overall bodily health. Exercising while using a standing desk is a great way to “kill two birds with one stone” as you are already standing, and learning how to achieve good posture at your desk, so your body is primed and ready to go. So be sure to check out how to work standing desk exercise equipment for more information on ways to add in some exercise. Then when you are ready, you can check out our article on the best walking treadmill for standing desks. And if you are a DIYer, we have a guide on how to make a standing desk so you can ensure it meets your needs. Alternatively, if you are curious, you can check out a roundup of reviews for the Varidesk Pro Plus 36, a standing desk converter.

Insider Tip

In addition to these exercises, make sure to take regular breaks to walk around and stretch. This will pay dividends.

How to Be Active When Standing at Your Desk

There are a whole bunch of exercises you can do at your standing desk, though many should not be attempted until you learn how to properly use your standing desk. Here are some simple exercises to get you started.

Exercise 1 – Gluteal Squeeze


You can do this exercise without drawing the attention of coworkers.


While standing at the starting position, keep your feet flat and contract your butt muscles and hold them tight for three seconds.


Relax and contract again.


Repeat in a series of 12 repetitions throughout the day whenever you feel the need for some exercise.

Exercise 2 – Calf Raises


This is another one you can do without calling too much attention to yourself.


While standing at your starting position, raise your heels a few inches from the floor.


Hold this position for three seconds and then slowly lower your heels down.


Repeat as much as you want, though you may need to hold something for balance until you get used to the regular exercise.

Exercise 3 – Hamstring Curls


This one will call some attention to you from curious coworkers but, you know what they say, good health is contagious.


While at the starting position, bring one foot up to meet your posterior.


Hold it there for one to three seconds and then lower the foot back down.


Repeat ten to 15 times before switching legs and starting over.


You can repeat this exercise a couple of times throughout the day.


How to get more movement into your day?

There are many office exercises to consider even at your desk chair, such as desk pushups.

How sitting for long periods affects your body?

Sitting at a 90-degree angle or laying all day negatively impacts your health in a myriad of ways, as a lack of physical activity leads to circulation issues, shoulder pain, back pain, heart disease, and more.

How to use a sit-stand desk?

Adjusting the stand-up desks correctly is absolutely key for correct usage. Make sure your monitor is eye level and that your hands gently rest on top of the keyboard.

STAT: Use of a standing desk for three hours burns an extra 24 calories, about the same number of calories in a carrot. But walking for just a half-hour during your lunch break could burn an extra 100 calories each day. (source)

Lawrence Bonk Profile image