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Discreet exercises for the workplace

Many of us work long days at a desk, despite the negative impact immobility has on our health. There isn’t anything we can do about it…or is there?
Let’s not fool ourselves; finding ways to exercise at work isn’t straightforward. Indeed, in an open office, where coworkers pass by all the time and see everything, you really have to think twice about what you do in front of others! The exercises below have the great advantage of being discreet…

Calf raises

These are ideal for exercising on the spot, eg, at the copier, printer, or microwave. Simply lift your heels up off the ground, ie, stand on tiptoes, and then bring your heels back down. Do this 5 to 10 times.


Walking is featured in pretty much all advice on exercising at work for a good reason — it’s good for you, easy to do, and doesn’t look out of place in the workplace. A short walk before or after lunch is easy to fit in, helps clear your mind, and does your body good too.

Taking the stairs

Another classic for good reason. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; not just up, but down too. Be reasonable—working on the 2nd floor isn’t the same thing as the 32nd floor. In the former situation, you might do this exercise several times a day; in the latter, you might do 2 to 5 floors in the morning before catching the elevator again and ditto in the evening. Adapt this exercise to suit you and your workplace. No one will give you a second look even if you’re not carrying a folder.

Leg lifts

Under your desk, lift one leg until it’s straight and parallel to the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then lower. Repeat with the other leg, 10-15 times in total.


Another activity that’s beneficial and that doesn’t look out of place at work is stretching. In contrast to most cardio- or strength-training exercises, which will undoubtedly stick out in a business environment, stretching won’t make anyone bat an eyelid. Pretty much everyone understands that stretching is a natural response to sitting all day, which can make you rather sore.

Sitting on an exercise ball 

Nowadays, one can sit on an exercise ball and get looks of approval from colleagues. Okay, it depends where you work, but this type of “chair” has gained a certain degree of acceptance. An exercise ball–chair strengthens core muscles and maintains a straight posture.

Muscle clenches

 Clench your abdominal muscles or buttocks for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. Again, an exercise that’s impossible to spot.

Maintaining good posture 

Posture isn’t an exercise, but correcting poor posture, ie, sitting with a straight back, and maintaining a good posture will actively work muscles in your back.