Performing leg exercises while sitting are a great option for office workers with limited workout time. You might be busy at work, tied behind a desk. Maybe your schedule permits only occasional exercising. Whatever the case, you can get a good stretch and some fundamental exercises that can help build, restore, and protect the major muscles in the legs and back.
Let’s explore sitting leg exercises.
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Leg Exercises at your desk
Take a 10 minute break for every hour working. Use this 600 seconds to take a mental break from your spreadsheets, Word docs and email. You can try a few of these these leg exercises as you sit. No one will even know you are working out since the desk hides what you are doing with your legs.
- Leg Lifts – Keep your thighs parallel to the floor. At the knee, raise your leg and bring it as parallel to the floor as possible. Repeat for 5- 10 reps on each leg.
- Miniature Squats – (Try to do with a chair with no wheels to prevent it from rolling). Stand up from your chair. As you lower yourself back to the seat, go as low as possible before actually sitting down. This maintains tension in your thighs and glutes. Repeat for 5-10 reps.
- Ankle Rotate – Stretch your legs in front of you under the desk, or raise it a little from the floor. Starting with one leg, rotate your feet clock-wise for 5 rotations and counter-clockwise for 5 rotations. Repeat on the other leg. Try to do total of 3-5 sets on each leg.
- Foot Alphabets – An ankle exercise, try to spell each letter of the alphabet with your feet. Try to write all 26 letters on each leg.
- Hamstring Stretch – (Sitting on a chair without wheels prevents the chair rolling away and causing you to lose balance.)
Sit at the edge of your chair. Stretch your legs in front of you with your heels on the floor, so that you form a straight line from your hips to the heels. Bend at the waist till you feel a stretch in your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings.
6. Leg Circles – While seated, lift one leg off the floor and stretch them in the air. With the other leg firmly on the floor for balance, make small circles with the raised leg, feeling the movement from the hips. Aim for 5-10 circles on each leg.
7. Seated March – While seated, keep your back straight. With your feet firmly on the floor, try simulating a marching motion by lifting one knee at a time. Try to march for a minute or two.
8. Wall Ankle Stretch – Take a break away from your desk and find a wall. With your heels on the floor, raise your ankle up, with your toes against the wall. With your leg straight, move your body towards the wall. You should feel a stretch on your hamstrings and calves.
9. Seated Figure 4 – While seated, place the ankle of one leg over the knees of the other. With your back straight bend at the hips. Try to go as low as possible as you feel the stretch in your legs, glutes, and lower back.
10. Soleus Push Ups – I had written about soleus muscles. You can try to get the benefit while seated as you isolate and exercise this muscle, by placing your feet firmly on the floor, and raising and lowering your knees by bending at the toes. Aim for 15-20 reps on each leg.
Seated Exercises at the Office
In addition to the seated leg exercises above, the below whole-body exercises can be done while seated.
1. Shoulder Rolls – Sit with your back straight. With your neck relaxed, move both shoulders up and down for 5-10 reps. You can also rotate the shoulders clock-wise and counter-clockwise for 5-10 reps each direction. Repeat for 2-3 sets.
2. Chair Dips – Similar to a bench or ring dip, chair dips use the chair’s arm rest for support. This is safer if performed on a chair without wheels to prevent the chair from moving.
3. Arms Circles – With your arms raised to the sides, make small circles in a slow and steady motion. Aim for 8-10 reps. Repeat directions. Aim for 2-3 sets in each direction.
4. Torso Twist – Raise both hands in front of you at shoulder level. Holding that posture, rotate your body to the left, as much as you can go. Hold for second and feel the stretch in your abdomen. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the right side. Aim for 8-10 reps on each side for 2 sets.
To make this a little challenging, hold a water bottle or another light object between your stretched arms.
5. Bicep Curls – This can be performed with a water bottle or other light to medium weight object. With your back straight, shoulders relaxed and arms to the sides, bend your elbows as you bring the weighted object up to your chest/ shoulder. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 8-10 reps with each arm for 2-3 sets.
GET FIT while sitting
While it’s not ideal to sit for extended periods of time, our lifestyle and work habits don’t give us much options. Making the most of even minimal “movements” while sitting can offset some of the negative effects of sitting on your posture, back, and leg muscles. You may not become the next strongman doing these office leg workouts, but they provide the benefits of physical exercise. Stretching is especially useful as everyone of us can benefit from seated stretches.
Learn more about how to improve your body and maintain optimal physical fitness by reading some of our other workout posts.
Reach out to our team if you’re looking to learn more about physical health and have a question about your goals, and the next steps in your health journey.