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Leg exercises you can do from your office chair

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Slim and svelte at work

Sedentary desk jobs can be the pits, but that doesn't mean you can't develop a love-hate relationship with your office chair. Make your work chair work for you by turning it into your own personal exercise machine. With nothing more than an exercise band and a stack of books, you can tone and tighten your legs so they look great with your pumps and pencil skirt.
Leg extension

Run through these exercises in a quick circuit, or focus on a single exercise for a few minutes every hour. The goal is to keep your blood pumping, despite your long hours at work.

Squat taps

Squat taps

Give your lower half a wake-up call with a series of squat taps. When performing a circuit, do 30 squat taps before moving to the next exercise; otherwise, simply perform as many squats as you can before your legs turn to jelly.

  1. Sit on the edge of your office chair, with your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart, your knees and hips at 90-degree angles.
  2. Press through your heels and push up to standing, keeping your feet flat on the floor the whole time.
  3. Tip your hips back and bend your knees, lowering yourself back toward the chair.
  4. Just after your thighs tap the chair's seat, immediately press yourself back to standing.

Single-leg balance lunge

Single-leg balance lunge

If you have a rolling, swivel chair, this one's especially challenging. Reach out and place your hand on a desk or wall for balance if you need it. Perform 10 lunges on each leg when doing a circuit, or simply perform as many as you can per leg if you're focusing on one exercise at a time.

  1. Stand about two feet in front of your office chair, your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Lift one foot off the ground and extend your leg behind you, placing the top of your foot on top of the chair's seat.
  3. Keeping your torso upright and tall, bend both knees and lower your back knee toward the floor until your front knee forms a 90-degree angle.
  4. Reverse the movement and press yourself back to standing.

Hip extension

Hip extension

Tighten up your tush with a hip extension exercise. It may be a little awkward to do in a cubicle setting, but if you have an office with a door, shut yourself away for a few minutes and get to work! Perform 12 extensions per leg when doing a circuit, or perform them to exhaustion when doing one exercise at a time.

  1. Kneel in the seat of your chair so you're facing the chair back. Place your hands lightly on the top of the chair back for balance.
  2. Extend one leg behind you, so that your knee and hip are fully extended, no longer balanced on the chair. Tip your torso forward slightly so that your body forms a straight line from your head to the heel of your extended leg.
  3. From this position, keeping your upper body steady, press your extended leg as high as you can behind you. Hold for a single count, then lower your leg back to the starting point.

Leg extension

Leg extension

Pull your exercise band out of your purse and tie it around the base of your office chair so you can strengthen up your quads while sitting. Do 15 repetitions per leg when doing a circuit, or perform them to exhaustion when focusing on a single exercise.

  1. Tie the exercise band around the base of your chair in a small loop.
  2. Sit in the center of your chair with your feet flat on the ground, your hips and knees bent at 90-degree angles, your torso straight and tall.
  3. Hook the exercise band around the bottom of one of your shoes (much easier if you're wearing heels!) and lift your heel off the floor.
  4. Keeping your body otherwise still, extend your knee, pressing against the band's resistance.
  5. Lower your leg back to start.

Seated calf raise

Seated calf raise

All those office reference manuals and notebooks are your calves' best friends! Pile them on your lap as you sit in your chair, then use their resistance as you perform a simple calf raise. You can even pull this one off while answering emails or on the phone. As part of your circuit, aim for 30 calf raises; when doing a single exercise, perform them to exhaustion.

  1. Sit toward the front of your office chair with your feet flat on the ground, hip-distance apart, your torso upright and tall. Stack as many books as you can on the front of your thighs.
  2. Place your palms on top of the books and press down, using your own arms as additional resistance.
  3. Press through the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the ground and raising as high up onto your toes as you can.
  4. Lower your heels back toward the floor.

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