Desk exercises: 13 tips and routines for designers

Designer boot camp starts now – put paid to poor posture and ensure you remain in top form.

Whether you're working from home or in a studio, as designers and artists, we often spend long hours sat at a desk and staring intently at a monitor screen. You know about taking regular screen breaks when creating that new logo design, right? But workplace wellness involves more than having a rest.

With these simple desk exercises you can make sure you remain limber in your studio – but first we start with a great animation that will help you think about your posture...

01. Work on your posture

Staying in shape at your desk starts with getting your posture right. Check out the animated video above for some great tips to get you seated properly before you start exercising.

02. Core strengthener

If you're worried all those little nibbles throughout the day are taking their toll on your abs, try this core strengthening exercise. Sit upright on your chair, with weight evenly spread on both feet.

Without letting your pelvis tilt or your back slump, lift your right foot off the floor, bringing the thigh towards the torso and keeping tummy muscles engaged. Pause, then lower and repeat with the left leg. Alternate for two sets of eight repetitions.

03. Look after your eyes

Staring at a monitor all day isn't good for your eyes, and while it's always lovely to grab a quick screen break there's more you can do to prevent eye strain. Here you'll find plenty of tips for keeping your eyes happy, from exercises and tips for dealing with severe strain, through to advice for building a more eye-friendly environment.

04. Chair Tricep Dips

Although this one may be a little embarrassing, it's definitely worth it for the results. Grab a hold of your chair's arms and dip down to the floor without having your bottom touch the floor. This exercise will work out your triceps and core. Try five sets at 30 seconds each.

05. Book press

Here's a perfect way to put one of those fat Phaidon volumes to a good use. Work your triceps by grabbing the heaviest book you have, holding it behind your head then extending your arms up. Drop it back down to your neck and then repeat.

06. The pectoral stretch

Desk exercises: pectoral stretch

Fingers together, hands behind your head, and give two good coughs

Before you begin, you must put all concerns of self conciousness out of your mind. This is about you, and improving your well being. It will be you that has the last laugh! Desk exercises, rule!

First, Interlink your fingers, then place your palms on the back of your head. Next tilt your pelvis forward, push your chest towards your desk and pull your elbows back. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat every 30 minutes.

07. Seated hip stretch

This is a great stretch to do a couple of times throughout the day. And you wouldn't be the first to forget about stretching your hips! So, whilst you're sitting, cross one ankle over the knee on the other leg. Sit up tall and gently lean forward. You should feel a stretch in your glute and hip.

08. Don't forget your wrists

Be honest: most of the time, you probably don't sit properly when working at a computer. And if you spend a lot of time typing, that means you could be at risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

One way you can guard against this hideous condition is to exercise your wrists throughout the day. Around every hour or so try to roll your wrists ten times clockwise and counterclockwise.

09. The latissimus dorsi stretch

Desk exercises: the latissimus dorsi stretch

Put your arms in the air, air, air!

By now our desk exercises are beginning to undo some of the damage done to your poor body by years of sitting at a desk. Are you feeling the burn, yet?

For this next desk excercise you must keep your fingers interlinked from your pectoral stretch and straighten your arms so your palms move to face the ceiling.

Now lean to your left and then right: you should feel a gentle stretch down the opposite side to which you are leaning. Hold each side for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat every 30 minutes.

10. Stretch your back with a "big hug"

Many of us are all too familiar with that aching back pain after a hard day's work. To relieve some pain and to possibly stave off any Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.

11. Dumbbell Curls

While on the phone, grab a dumbbell and do bicep curls for 20 repetitions three times a day. Straighten your arms by your side and bring your hand (dumbbell) to your shoulder, whilst keeping your palms up. Do one at a time if you're on the phone, or two if you're reading through some documents.

12. Neck range of movement

Desk exercises: neck range

Focus on your neck, as this area really suffers from prolonged deskwork

To prevent neck stiffness, turn your head to the left, right, up and down in a slow, controlled movement until you feel a gentle stretch.

Repeat every 10 to 20 minutes. Avoid rolling your neck as this can upset the small joints in your spine.

13. Straight Leg Toe Points

This exercise won't make you look like a supermodel overnight but it'll certainly give your legs a much-needed stretch. Straighten your legs out in front of you, pressing your feet together.

Lift your feet up as high as you can. Point your toes, then flex your feet as you keep your legs straight and lifted the entire time. Complete three sets of 15 reps, and do it without resting if you can.

Illustrations: David Buisán