Clever Ways To Exercise In Any Small Space


It’s important to get regular exercise, even if it’s a little activity here and there. But we don’t all have the time or money to invest in a gym membership, and many of us already work long hours that make it difficult to get out and exercise. Here are some clever ways to get a little activity anywhere you happen to be.

We should note that you’re not really going to work up a sweat or do any serious resistance training in your cubicle, so it’s important to complement exercises like these with a semi-regular workout routine you’ll actually stick to. If you’re not getting much activity at all right now, these exercises can help you get up, moving around and on the way to something more robust. The beauty of all of them is that you can do them anywhere, from your desk at work, to your hotel room if you’re away on a business trip.

Master Your Small-Space Stretching Exercises

Probably the easiest and the least conspicuous exercises you can do at your desk or in your cubicle are simple stretching and in-place exercises. We’ve shown you some of them before, and sites like Nano Workout have entire workout routines that you can do almost anywhere, including exercises designed to be done at the office. Many of these exercises aren’t really designed to help you burn calories or lose weight, but instead stay limber and counteract the effects of sitting at a desk all day.

Additionally, you can try stretching exercises you can do sitting down. Desk yoga, for example, can help you de-stress and avoid repetitive stress injury (RSI) that can damage your hands, wrists, back, and neck. If you work in a job where you’re tethered to a phone, you may not have the option to get up and move around too often without signing off or getting approval, so even a few seated stretches can help you out there. If you work in a cubicle though, definitely make a point to get up, move around and stretch a bit.

Even if you can’t work up a sweat at your desk, you can stay limber or go for a quick walk around the office, or the office building. I was lucky enough to work in an office that had a gym attached to it, but sometimes it was just as nice to go outside for a nice long walk around the building a couple of times, or to have a “walking meeting”, where I took an hour-long conference call while walking laps around the parking lot instead of sitting pinned to my desk.

Bring Some Equipment With You

If you have a little room at the office to swing a few things around or get on the floor a bit, you might consider bringing a few items with you to work that will help you make your breaks or idle thinking time even more productive. Even a pair of 2kg hand weights gives you the opportunity to do a number of exercises you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. We’ve even shown you how to get a great workout in less than 20 minutes using nothing but a towel. You don’t have to go that extent, but a few hand weights, some elastic exercise bands, and you have the makings of some light strength training (or at least some mild physical therapy) at your cubicle or office desk.

If you work from home, this gets even easier, since you can wear what you like and work out when you like — even if you’re technically supposed to be pinned to your computer for something. In the same vein, make use of your surroundings. Even if you can’t bring some hand weights into the office with you, you may be able to make the most of the stairs up to your office area. You could also consider switching to a backless chair to encourage good posture, or you could give yourself a stair-climbing workout.

Finally, consider using an app like Sworkit, one of our favourites, to auto-generate workouts that fit into the amount of time you have and the location you’re in. If you’re at the office, you can get exercise suggestions that won’t make you disgusting for your next meeting. The same applies if you’re visiting a friend and want to limber up before bed.

Mod Your Workspace for a Great Workout

If you have the freedom to make your workspace a little more exercise friendly, you can throw the doors open to a number of new possibilities. For example, you could always opt to build a treadmill desk. Granted, you’ll probably have a hard time typing that TPS report while you’re walking (it takes some getting used to), but you will be able to take a long conference call, watch a seminar or screen-shared meeting, read a long document or get some brainstorming done.

Similarly, you could always invest in something like FitDesk, which has earned high praise from both myself and Adam Dachis for being a great way to squeeze in a little pedalling when we’re taking a meeting or brainstorming future post ideas. If you’d prefer to sit, consider the Desk Cycle, which rests comfortably under your desk and lets you pedal while you type, sitting in your own chair.

You may be able to bring a Desk Cycle to the office, but unless you’re in charge, have your own office, or work at a company that’s OK with major workspace changes, a treadmill desk may not be in the cards. Still, that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of options. After all, it’s possible to get a full-body workout using nothing but your body, and while you obviously don’t want to work out so hard that you’re dripping sweat in your cubicle, it’s possible to get moving even if you don’t have fancy equipment or a gym membership. Plus, with a little creativity, you can keep up the momentum with some lighter exercises at the office that can keep you limber, calm and in good condition.

Photos by auremar (Shutterstock), RagRog (Shutterstock), cessenberg, Daniel Rothamel.


  • How does this comply with OHS in the workplace? As I recently injured myself at work stretching and was not entitled to any compensation by workcover as one is not paid to stretch…???

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