Five easy office exercises

Stuck at your desk feeling uncomfy and achy? Have a go at our simple exercises - you don’t even need to leave your desk.

1. Shoulder circles

Help prevent rounded shoulders and relieve tension with some chest-opening shoulder circles.

While seated, rotate your shoulders backwards and down, trying to make the biggest circles you can. And breathe. Lovely.

2. Leg extensions

Great for strengthening the muscles at the front of the thighs (which will come in pretty handy during an active labour).

  1. Sit on a chair, feet hip width apart; toes, knees and hips facing forwards; shoulders back down and ‘zip up’ (see below).
  2. Lift one knee to a comfortable height, keeping the leg bent.
  3. Keeping the leg lifted, slowly straighten the leg without locking the knee.
  4. Slowly return the leg back to the bent position while keeping the thigh lifted.
  5. Repeat eight to twelve times on one side and then the other.

To ‘zip up’, imagine a thread is attached to your belly button from the inside and is pulling your belly button towards your spine. While doing this, put your finger on your belly button. You should feel it move upwards slightly and the muscles around it tighten, but you will still be able to breathe normally.

We recommend ‘zipping up’ before you do any exercises to protect your back and stomach. 

3. Office sit-ups

Good for toning legs and waking up your glutes (bum, that is). Word of warning: If your chair has wheels, make sure you wedge it - you don’t want it rolling away!

  1. Sit in your chair, feet hip-width apart, with your toes, knees and hips facing forward.
  2. Zip up and then slowly stand up, taking your weight through the heels of your feet and keeping your shoulders back and down. Keep your pelvic floor and abdominals nice and tight.
  3. Once you are standing (with knees slightly bent) slowly lower yourself back down into the chair with your bum pushed out towards the back of the seat, sit down and repeat.
  4. Repeat six times, take a break for 30 seconds and gradually work up from there.

4. Pelvic tilt

Work your pelvic floor and tummy muscles (which will support your growing baby) and help prevent back and pelvis pain.

  1. Sit nice and tall in your chair with your feet square on the floor.
  2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Gently squeeze your bottom, curling it under you (in other words sink into your tailbone).
  4. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Release gently.
  6. Repeat ten times.

5. Pelvic floor exercises

No-one will know you’re doing these toning exercises and - trust us - it’s worth every little squeeze. Your bladder will thank you!

Slow twitch (slow twitch fibres support the pelvic organs and the baby inside you):

1. Slowly tighten and lift the pelvic floor up, lifting the muscles inwards and upwards.

2. Continue lifting up through the pelvis and into the tummy.

3. Try to hold it for four seconds and then release slowly.

4. If the contraction fails after a few seconds and there is nothing left to release, hold at the top for less time until you’ve worked up to four seconds.

5. Gradually increase the length of hold, ensuring you always have something to release and are able to lower slowly.

Fast twitch pelvic floor exercise (fast twitch fibres maintain continence, making you less likely to wet yourself):

1. Tighten and lift the pelvic floor up in one quick contraction, lifting the muscles inwards and upwards.

2. Pause before releasing slowly.

3. Relax fully at the end.

Try and perform each repetition with the same speed and strength as the first.

Useful tips

  • A 30-minute brisk walk during your lunch hour will give your heart a workout, release feel-good endorphins, and help you stay fit and strong as your baby 
  • Try swapping your office chair for an exercise ball. Sitting on a ball exercises your core muscles, encouraging better posture and helping to take the strain of carrying a baby.

More about exercise in pregnancy


Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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