Feeling stiff at work? Want to stretch out but don’t have the space or social courage to get up and bust out some exercise moves in front of your coworkers? Fear no more: We’ve compiled a bunch of stretches that can all be done in an office setting and best of all — ranked them from least attention-getting to the most disruptive.
Neck Flexes – 1/5
No one will notice or care if you stretch out your neck a little. While seated, keep your back straight and simply stretch your neck back and forward, side to side. Look left, then right, then do some slow rolls in both directions. Get the blood flowing to all corners of your brain and you’ll start to feel refreshed immediately.
Shoulder Rolls – 1/5
Don’t forget to stretch out those shoulders: Let your hands rest, and roll your shoulders forward 10 times, then back 10 times. Now doesn’t that feel better already?
Elbow Stretch – 1/5
This one looks a little odd, but can be done with minimal disturbance to your neighbors. Place your arm directly out in front of you, with the palm out and facing down. Use your other hand to gently pull the fingers of the first arm back toward you. This also has the benefit of preventing a repetitive stress injury like tennis elbow. Do it for 20 seconds several times a day.
Wrist Rolls – 2/5
If you have wrists that crack loudly like mine (and gosh I hope you don’t) then the disturbance level of this particular exercise might be more than a 2/5, but taking a few seconds throughout the day to roll and stretch your wrists can help prevent carpal tunnel.
Leg Lifts and Calf Raises – 3/5
Like my wrists, my chair is also noisy, but a well-oiled chair and an enclosed desk space could mean that these exercises could go entirely unnoticed. For leg lifts, extend one leg out in front of you and hold it there for 20 seconds. Do this 20 times and then switch. Calf raises can be done on the stairwell of your office building: Stand with just your toes on the edge of the step and let your heels drop low, then raise yourself up on your toes to really stretch out. Shoot for two sets of 10 each.
Chair Dips – 5/5
This will be super obvious what you’re doing, and squeaky chairs are the worst for it. But chair dips are also just fun to do, and you can sneak one or two in every time you get up or sit down. Using your arms only, raise yourself above the seat for a few seconds and then relax. Do this a few times in a row every day to really strengthen your whole body.
Wall Push Ups – 5/5
So what if people see you doing these? Even though they’re conspicuous and look a little weird, wall pushups are deceptively hard after a while, and really work out your chest and arms. Try two sets of 10-15 repetitions. Keep your arms wide to work out your chest and pectorals, and narrow them to exercise your triceps.
And for a few 0/5 exercises …
Drink water. Take the stairs. Up the ante by taking two steps at a time. Go for a walk. Park in the furthest space from the door. Visit colleagues instead of emailing. Let your eyes stare out a window. Bring a healthy, homemade lunch and eat it outside. Think happy thoughts.