Get those abdominals working: How to burn 500 calories at your desk

Do you sit in front of a computer all day? Here are 10 exercises you can attempt without leaving your desk.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 24 Jul 2014

By burning up to 500 calories a day, staff can burn 2,500 calories a week, or 130,000 a year - the equivalent of 429 cheeseburgers.

‘Busy office workers who don’t have time to hit the gym can still sculpt the perfect beach body,’ said, which devised the workout. Tempted to give it a go? Instructions below – although be prepared for some awkward questions from fellow colleagues.

1. Take the stairs

An easy one to start with. Not only will taking the stairs get your heart pumping, but it will tone your leg muscles. To increase the workout, take two steps at a time and walk as fast as you can.

Calories burnt: 34 calories in 10 minutes
Equivalent to: One hard boiled sweet

2. Leg raises

Leg raises will work your thighs and quads, and can even be done under your desk. It’ll do wonders for your core stability and posture, and can just about be done discreetly.

Calories burnt: 70 calories for 10 minutes
Equivalent to: One scoop of ice cream

3. Slog and jog

Here’s where it starts to get tricky. Instead of working for hours nonstop, take a break and stretch your legs by taking a jog on the spot. ‘You can even read through emails while jogging at the side of your desk,’ the workout specialist says. If you want to really feel the burn, pick up your knees.

Calories burnt: 66 in 10 minutes

Equivalent to: Half a packet of cheese and onion crisps

4. Chair swivels

Use your swivel chair to your advantage by using your core to swivel the chair from side to side. Perform several times throughout the day to tone your oblique muscles in your abdominals.

Calories burnt: 0 - this is a toning exercise 

5. Desk dips

By now, people may start asking questions. Using your desk, sit at the edge of a non-rolling chair and dip while reading your emails to strengthen your upper body and work your arms.

Calories burnt: 20 calories for 5 minutes
Equivalent to: One mint

6. Bum clenches

For a more discreet exercise, try squeezing your bum and holding for 5-10 seconds and then repeating.

Calories burnt: 0 - this exercise is for toning


7. Water bottle curl

Arm curls don’t have to be restricted to lifting heavy weights in the gym, and will even improve your posture while strengthening and toning your arms.

Calories burnt: 80 calories per 10 minutes
Equivalent to: One chocolate biscuit

8. Printer calf raises

When waiting for documents to print, don’t just twiddle your thumbs. Do some calf raises to strengthen the backs of your legs and shoulders and also to tone your calves.

Calories burnt: 34 calories for 10 minutes
Equivalent to: One square of chocolate

9. Boardroom lunges

Pacing the boardroom whilst taking an important phone call or taking some time out will burn 85 calories every 15 minutes, which is the same amount as a small latte.

However, to tone your legs, thighs and quadriceps at the same time, perform lunges while walking round using tables and chairs to lean on if need be.

Calories burnt: 137 in 15 minutes
Equivalent to: A small glass of red wine

10. Arm rolls

Best for combating bingo wings, this exercise will not only help you tone your arms, but add weights such as a bottle of water and you’ll strengthen your biceps too.

Calories burnt: 50 in 20 minutes
Equivalent to: Half a chocolate muffin.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

How to stop your culture going back to normal after COVID

In this video, Capita's Melanie Christopher and Greene King board director Lynne Weedall discuss how...

This isn't just a health crisis, it's an equality crisis

Inspiring Women in Business winners: In the “new normal”, we must make sure that female...

How to build an anti-racist business

You don't need a long history of championing equality to make a difference.

What are Simon Roberts’ big 3 challenges at Sainsbury’s?

The grocer's new CEO has taken the reins at a critical time.

Should CEOs get political?

The protests that have erupted over George Floyd’s murder have prompted a corporate chorus of...

“You literally have to rewrite your job description”

One minute briefing: In hard times, your network becomes more important than ever, says Prezi...