With 61 percent of American office employees working in open or shared spaces now, gone are the days when you could shut your door and do desk dips in the privacy of your own office. So what’s a girl looking to squeeze in a little workout during the workday to do? The good news is you don’t have to forgo an office exercise routine even if you sit smack dab in the middle of your open office floor. All you have to do is think a little more strategically about the kinds of exercises you choose. We’ve consulted with experts to come up with a subtle workout routine that should go (mostly) under the radar in the office. Here are 7 exercises you can do without anyone noticing.
It’s clear no one want to be . The girl so obsessed with exercise, she can’t even imagine living any part of her life without it (or her yoga pants). That being said, if your coworkers do happen to notice, it’s really not the end of the world. There are a lot worse things you could be doing in the middle of the day than getting in an inconspicuous workout at your desk. Am I right?
Start With Your Breathing
Yoga instructor Anita Perry suggests beginning with the basics by focusing first on your breathing, which allows your muscles to receive much-needed oxygen. Perry recommends inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, and exhaling for another four.
Try to keep up this pattern through each little workout to come.
Work Those Legs
Once you’ve mastered your breathing, it’s time to start moving those muscles. Self-proclaimed lazy millennial Jade Phoenix, who has personal experience trying to maintain her fitness in the office, tells me you can keep your heels on for this first one.
Start in an upright, seated position at your desk, with your hands holding your chair’s armrests, your knees and feet together. On an exhale, raise your knees until your toes leave the floor. Return to your starting position just long enough to tap your toes to the ground, then repeat the motion. Try to maintain these fluid movements for around 30 seconds at a time.
After your toe touches, kick off those high heels and plant your feet on the ground. Keep your toes grounded while you lift your heels as high as possible. Repeat up to around 20 times.
Finally, raise one leg at a time until it’s totally straight, and hold the pose for about 10 seconds. Alternate between each leg. Health advocate Morgan Statt tells me that leg raises can strengthen your hip flexors as well as your abs. “As these parts of your body get stronger,” Statt says, “you’ll likely experience better posture, fewer lower back problems, and ease of performing other exercises, such as yoga and running.”
Clench Your Butt
This one is as simple as it sounds. Clench your buttocks for five seconds or so, take a short break, and repeat as desired. Fitness writer Max Robinson recommends this workout because it is easy to manage while undetected, and it can be surprisingly effective – just take care not to pull any funny faces or sounds while clenching!
Butt crunches activate your glutes, which strengthens muscles and improves endurance. These benefits will likely enhance your performance in other fitness activities over time.
Do Your Kegels
Men, resist the temptation to skip this exercise. Women aren’t the only ones who benefit from kegels, which can prevent incontinence as you age.
Just tighten your pelvic floor muscles (as if you’ve stopped peeing midstream), hold for a few seconds, and release.
When writer Dylann Crush spends eight hours at her desk, “the dreaded kegel” is one of her go-to exercises. Crush points out that kegels “can even be done during meetings with no one the wiser.”
Tighten Those Abs
Move on to your abs next by tightening them while you sit at your desk. Clench and hold for 10 seconds, and repeat the process three times. Health coach and champion powerlifter Robert Herbst says, “No one will know you are doing this if you keep a straight face, as there should be no movement.”
This method of targeting your stomach won’t immediately change the way you look and feel, but it will gradually activate the muscle fibers to enhance and strengthen your abs.
Flex Your Arms
After tightening your abs, you can alternate between pushing your hands up against the underside of your desk and then pushing down against the top. Chiropractic doctor Dean Hoppenrath says these exercises will work your biceps and triceps respectively.
If you’re really daring, you can do what he calls “reaching for the stars”– reach your arms straight up to the sky (but no guarantees that you won’t attract a few stares).
Stand When Possible
In addition to a discreet office workout routine, “the best advice for desk workers is to stand periodically,” according to Herbst. Check to see if your company will buy you a standing desk, or you can set yourself a timer to remind you to stand for five minutes after every half hour sitting. Use every opportunity you can to stretch your legs, whether it’s walking to the coffee machine or going for a quick stroll around the block on your lunch break.
“The body thrives when challenged, even a little,” Dr. Hoppenrath says, “and you will feel better in all aspects of life.” Look at office fitness as another challenge for yourself, and a chance to keep your body engaged in new ways.