Exercises You Can Do While Sitting

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Exercises You Can Do While Sitting

Sitting for a few hours at a time is sometimes unavoidable, whether you’re on a plane, riding in the passenger sit of a car, or at a desk. This full-body routine was designed for exactly those moments.

In this video, I walk you through a series of exercises which can be done from a seated position, starting with exercises for your foot and ankle and working all the way to your head and neck for a full body challenge.

These are the exercises I do when I’m on a plane or at a desk for a long period of time. Non-sedentary exercises are always going to be better for your body overall, but this routine provides you with a realistic option to keep your body moving and feeling good while stuck in a seated position. These exercises can also be done if you are recovering from surgery or are dealing with an issue which prevents you from standing or moving around.

I believe fitness and feeling good are more important than what strangers think of me, so I’m not shy about doing these (and other) exercises in an airport or office environment. I have included variations for crowded or awkward spaces, such as on a plane, to ensure personal space boundaries of those around you are respected.

This routine can last 20 min – 60 min, depending on how long you do each exercises and how many times through you do them.

Technique Notes

  • Throughout this video, focus on actively pushing down through your feet to keep your core engaged.

Ankle Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Ankle CirclesAnkle Circles

Counter-clockwise and clockwise for 30-60 seconds on each side

  • Improves ankle strength and mobility

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Short Foot ExercisesShort Foot Exercise

Squeeze your toes towards your heels by lifting the arch of your foot (don’t crunch your toes up!)

  • 60 seconds on both sides
  • Great for flat feet, weak ankles, and plantar fasciitis

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--DorsiflexionDorsiflexion

With your feet flat on the ground, drive your knees forward

  • Improves mobility for squats
  • Strengthens your tibialis anterior muscle (the muscle in front of your shin)

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--PlantarflexionPlantarflexion

Reach your toes out in front of you and point your toes as much as possible (try to make a straight line from your shin to your toes)

  • Improves ankle strength and mobility

Alphabet

Go through the alphabet with your ankle on both sides

  • Improves ankle strength and mobility.

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “5:20” mark.

Hip Flexor Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated March HoldSeated March Hold

With one foot planted, lift the other leg as high as you can without leaning back or curling your spine

  • Keep your core engaged
  • Extend your leg straight in front of you to work the quadriceps
  • Increase the resistance level by pressing into the top on your leg, forcing your hip flexors to work harder.

Glute Exercises

Glute Squeeze

Squeeze your glutes to engage them

  • Hold for a full 30-60 seconds or for 3-5 seconds at a time for a total of 60 seconds

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “9:07” mark.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--GLute StretchGlute Stretch

  • Cross your ankle over your thigh and externally rotate your leg so your inner thigh is facing up.
  • Keep your back flat and your chest upright.
  • Lean forward into the stretch.

Spine Exercises

Seated Cat-Cow

Inhale to arch your back, exhale to round your spine

  • Improves spinal mobility

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Cat Cow--Cat PositionExercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Cat-cow--Cow Position

Seated Twist Variations

Keep your hips facing forward

  • Look straight ahead if you feel awkward looking to the side or behind you
  • Incorporate your shoulders and chest by putting one hand behind your back on the back of the opposite hip and twist.
  • Hold 30- 60 seconds for each twist on each side.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated TwistExercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Twist Variation 1Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Seated Twist Variation 2

Neck Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Chin TuckChin Tuck

Pull your chin towards your throat

  • Press firmly through your feet and squeeze your glutes to keep your core activated and your posture solid throughout this exercise.
  • Hold for 2-5 seconds, repeat for a total of 30-60 seconds
  • Strengthens and stretches your neck

Neck Stretch- Lateral Flexion

Stretch your neck from side to side

  • Side on your hand and lean in the opposite direction for a deeper stretch
  • Turn your head to look at your opposite shoulder for an even deeper stretch
  • Relieves tension in your neck and shoulders

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Neck StretchExercises You Can Do While Sitting--Neck Stretch Variation

Shoulder Exercises

Lat Stretch

Reach your arm straight up and lean forward

  • -or- Reach your arm to the side for a seated side bend
  • Hold for 60 seconds on each arm

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “19:37” mark.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Internal Shoulder RotationInternal and External Shoulder Rotation

Lift your arm and slowly rotate it towards you so your palm is facing behind you (internal rotation)
Slowly rotate your arm away from you so your palm is facing behind you (external rotation)

  • Repeat for 30 – 60 seconds on each arm

Hand & Arm Exercises

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Rock Climber StretchRock-Climber Stretch

Bring your hand out in front on you with your palm facing you. Place your opposite hand on the back of your palm and push into that hand and away from your body to feel the stretch.

  • Stretches the back of your forearms
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds on both sides

Back of Forearm Stretch

Flip your arm around so your forearm is facing up. Pull your fingers towards you with your opposite hand

  • Hold for 30-60 seconds on both sides

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Wrist CirclesWrist Circles

Simply make circles with your wrists

  • 30-60 seconds in each direction for both hands

Elbow Circles

Make circles with your elbows

  • 30-60 seconds in each direction for both arms

No picture, but you can see it on the video starting at the “25:06” mark.

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Spread Fingers StretchSpread Fingers Stretch

Spread fingers as far away from one another as possible

  • Hold for 2-3 minutes, maintaining focus and challenging your fingers to spread further apart the entire time

Exercises You Can Do While Sitting--Thumb MFRThumb MFR (myofascial release)

With the thumb and index finger of one hand, pinch the webbing between your thumb and index finger on the opposite hand

  • Hold for 2-3 minutes each hand
  • Releases tension in the fingers and can relieve headache pain

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