Keep Moving: 7 simple exercises to do at work

Welcome to our new series, "Keep Moving!" featuring guest contributor and certified personal trainer Valerie McMillen, owner of Fitness By Valerie. Look for articles from Valerie every couple of months highlighting tips and ideas for making fitness and nutrition fun and a regular part of your life.

I absolutely love what I do!! Being a Personal Trainer means I have the amazing opportunity to share my fitness and nutrition passion with others. To me, this is play, not work, and that’s exactly the belief I strive to instill in my clients. Remember when we were kids and we went outside to play? When did that change to “I’m going to work out”? My goal with each client is to help you embrace fitness and proper nutrition as a way of life and encourage you to have fun. Keep moving. Get outside. Find joy in each day by doing something that makes your body happy. Be creative with healthy cooking. Eat whole foods. Your body will thank you.


Our bodies are made to move, not sit all day. We often get so caught up in our routine, whatever that might be, that we forget to vary our fitness regime or even allow time for one at all. Stress, convenience foods, and a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your health and your waistline. If you regularly spend time having fitness fun, then good for you. Even with this, however, we all seem to be guilty of too much time sitting in front of our screens, whether a computer, television or phone. It’s surprising how fast five minutes in front of a computer can turn into one hour or several.


What if you could learn how to incorporate fitness fun into your daily office life? Studies show that any amount of exercise, even in short stints, helps lower our stress levels and have positive effects on overall health. No matter how ergonomic your desk is, sitting for long periods can stress your body. Even if you regularly engage in fitness before or after work, you can benefit from exercises done at the work place. This can include stretching, muscle-strengthening, and even short bursts of cardiovascular exercises.


Here are some simple exercises that you can incorporate into your day. You don’t need any special equipment. You don’t need to put on gym clothes. You just need to take a few minutes to move. Your body will thank you and so will your mind. You can repeat these 7 exercises throughout your day with 15-20 repetitions for each exercise set.


  • Sit tall in your chair with your back away from the back of your chair. Hold your arms out to the sides (like a “T”), keeping shoulders down and back. Pulse arms slightly towards the floor for each repetition (rep).
  • Rotate arms so palms are facing up for another set.
  • Rotate arms so palms are facing forward for another set.
  • For the last set, rotate arms so palms are facing behind you.


  • Sit with good posture in your chair. Simply squeeze your buttocks muscle then release for each rep.


  • Sit at your desk with good posture and feet in front of you. Lift one foot off the floor and straighten the leg in front of you.
  • Lift the leg up/away from the bottom seat of your chair, squeezing your thigh with each rep. Switch legs after set is completed.


  • Stand in front of your desk with good posture and feet hip width apart. (If you are wearing high heeled shoes it would be best to remove them.) Lift both heels off the floor and contract/squeeze your calf muscles then release for each set.
  • For added balance and resistance, wrap 1 foot around the back of the other calf and complete set on a single leg.


  • Sit up straight, keeping back away from the back of your chair. Exhale and pull your abdominals up and into your spin without curving your back. (This will feel like a corset…like you are bracing for a punch to your stomach.)
  • Focus on keeping your lower abs engaged while you continue to take a few breaths for each rep.


  • Sit up straight, keeping your back away from the back of your chair. Lift and roll your shoulders forward then backwards for each rep.
  • With the forward movement, feel your shoulder blades separate. With the backward movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together while you open your chest.


  • Sit up straight, keeping your back away from the back of your chair. Slowly turn your head to the left and hold for a few seconds. Bring your head back to neutral. Then turn your neck to the right and hold for a few seconds.


You can also benefit if you take time each 30-60 minutes to stand and walk in place. Keeping the body moving helps strengthen the heart, improve overall circulation, reduce stress, and enhance memory and cognitive function. As with any fitness program, please consult your physician before beginning this or any exercise program. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing health problem.

Through exercise and proper nutrition, your goals will become a reality. So, get moving and have some fitness fun!

Valerie McMillen, Certified Personal Trainer, AFAA

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