The majority of working Aussies spend long hours chained to a desk only to return home to spend the next five hours on the couch flicking through Foxtel or binge-watching Netflix. As a personal trainer with more than 18 years of experience in the industry, I’ve heard every excuse under the sun about why people can’t make their health a priority. Lack of time often comes in as number one and this is usually due to a busy work life.

Long hours sitting down at work can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.

The good news is that just because you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, it doesn’t mean your health needs to take a hit. And even if you’re too busy to get out of the office this lunchtime, there are still improve your fitness – at work – without breaking a sweat. So, if you’re ready, why not give my no-sweat office workout routine a go?

Is it OK to workout without sweating?

Yes! Moving your body is about so much more than just sweat. A good, effective workout that burns fat and builds muscle doesn’t have to involve intense perspiration but it should be challenging.

Why do our bodies sweat?

The statement “the fitter you get the less you sweat” is a misconception. There are a number of factors as to how, why (and how much) we sweat. The truth is, there really is no perfect science to it, but to start you need to understand what it means when we sweat.

Sweating is our bodies’ way of cooling itself down, a process called thermoregulation. This is the process where your brain sends a message to your glands to release sweat. When sweat evaporates from our skin our body temperature lowers. When we exercise our body temperature increases and the sweat response is activated.

Why do we sweat as much (or as little) as we do?

There are a number of factors that influences how much you sweat when you exercise:

  • Your body fat percentage
  • Your gender
  • Your genetics
  • The number of sweat glands you have
  • The temperature where you workout
  • The intensity of your exercise session

What exercises can I do while I’m at work?

Chair Dips

Here is an exercise that can easily done with a desk chair. Make sure your hands are facing forward and lower yourself down and up, keeping your butt as close to the chair as possible.

Wall Sits

These are an awesome workout for your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Rest your back against the wall with your knees bent and hips at a 90-degree angle, and hold this pose for as long as you can, keeping your back firmly against the wall. If you want to take it up a notch, try holding some resistance while in this pose.

Standing Calf Raises

Stand with your feet pointed straight ahead and hip-width apart. Lift your heels off the floor, placing your body weight onto the balls of your feet, now force your calve muscles to flex, then return your heels to the floor.


Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your toes, knees and hips should all be facing forward. Bend your knees and push your hips backwards as if you were going to sit on a chair. Make sure you keep the weight on the heels of your feet. Return to a standing position.

Lateral Leg Raises

Standing on one leg, keep the knee comfortably slightly bent. Raise your other leg a few centimetres off the floor and continue to lift laterally as high as you can. Work towards getting your lifted leg to a 45-degree angle. Lower it back to the starting position and repeat. Don’t forget to swap legs to stay even!

Static Lunge

Focus on getting a 90-degree angle in both legs, trying to bend the back knee to the floor and making sure your front knee doesn’t push too front forward over the toes. Try and hold for a minute each leg.

You don’t need to be breathing heavily or dripping in sweat for your workout to be effective.

How can I exercise while sitting at my desk?

There are many exercises that you can perform sitting at your desk. Although they may not work up a sweat, this doesn’t mean you’re not working your muscles.

Low impact workouts that work your whole body (such as Pilates and other mat-based routines) can be incredibly effective and are easily done at work. Compound movements are best because they engage multiple muscle groups so you can work more than one area at once. Plus, when you add isolation exercises to this you will start to tone up those target areas (like the belly) so you’ll start to feel a deep, satisfying burn… without the sweat!

Here are some great low impact exercises you can try next time you’re sitting at your desk:

  • Seated Leg Raises
  • Chair Dips
  • Seated Torso Twist
  • Arm Curls
  • Seated Squats
  • Glute Squeeze
Ready for some no-sweat office exercises that won’t leave you a hot mess at your desk?

OK, so I went to Snezana for some advice on this one, and apparently the key to finding a lunchtime workout that won’t mess your hair and makeup, is to not work out at all (just joking!).

No, really, the key is to an office workout that will give you results (without the sweat) is to exercise just enough to get your heart rate up, but not so high that you overheat and start sweating. There is no jumping or running, you just move quickly from one exercise to the next. You need to work your muscles to feel a good burn and throw in some good mobility yoga-style moves, too.

For extra sweat-protection at work, try exercising in an air-conditioned room or choose a room with a fan that you can direct towards you.

The no-sweat office workout

Repeat this circuit 4 times for an effective lunchtime burn without leaving the office… or ruining your hair and makeup!

P.S. Before you go, take a quick look at my simple tips to improve your health while you’re at work.

1. Squat

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your toes, knees and hips should all be facing forward. Bend your knees and push your hips backwards as if you were going to sit on a chair. Make sure you keep the weight on the heels of your feet. Return to a standing position.

No-sweat office exercise 1: The squat

2. Office Chair Knee Tuck

Starting in a push-up position, have your feet on the chair. Make sure you brace your core and slide your knees towards your chest, slide the chair towards your body. Make sure your core is always activated. Slide back to start position and repeat. Slide and glide 20 times.

No-sweat office exercise 2: The office chair knee-tuck

3. Desk Push-Ups

Stand facing your desk. Position your hands on the edge of the desk, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Perform a normal push-up movement. Ensure that your body is completely straight at all times throughout the movement.

No-sweat office exercise 3: The desk push-up

4. Static desk bicep contraction

Sitting at your desk, put your hands under the desk, as if you were to lift the desk with the palms of your hands. Keep your elbows as close to 90 degrees as you can. Perform a static contraction (make your biceps contract without moving your elbow) as hard as you can with good posture for 30 seconds.

No-sweat office exercise 4: The static desk bicep contraction

5. Controlled Desk Dips

Place your hands on your chair and slowly lower yourself up and down, making sure to only lightly brush the chair with your back. Keep this one up for 20 reps.

No-sweat office exercise 5: The controlled desk dip

You don’t need a gym to get fit. As thousands of my 28ers have discovered, you can get real results in a short amount of time by training smart, using nothing but your own body-weight. If you’re serious about getting fitter, don’t make excuses, just make it work.

Quick tips to improve your health at work

Here are 7 things you should do every day to stay healthy while you’re working.

1.    Take 3 minutes every hour to stand, stretch and move
It’s important to get that blood flowing, relieve muscle tension and give yourself a mental break to help you stay focused and attentive for the entire day.

2.    Ensure you pass this ergonomic work set-up test
The top of your computer screen should be in line or slightly above your eye level.
The distance from the screen that you sit should be approximately arms-length.
Aim for a right-angle at both the hips and the knees with your feet supported, preferably on the floor. Your chair should be supporting the whole spine and your back-rest slightly reclined to 10-20 degrees from vertical.

3.    Stay hydrated
Dehydration often rears its head as hunger and this can lead to unnecessary snacking and poor food choices. Hydration plays a huge role in brain function and energy levels so keep a water bottle on your desk and keep sipping that h20. 

4.    Get your steps up

Incidental activity continues to be on the decline and it can often be a nasty shock to how far away from the recommended 10,000 daily steps we really are. A big mistake people make is they try and do all their steps in one hit which has no additional benefit to accumulating your steps in small doses throughout the day.

5.    Get some Vitamin D & fresh air

To assist with getting those steps up, get outside for at least 10 minutes in your lunch break. Get some fresh air, take in some vitamin D, take a deep breath and let yourself switch off. Aim to do this without any electrical devices.

6.    Don’t cave to unhealthy peer pressure at work
Excessive after-work socializing & drinking, eating unhealthy lunches to fit in with your co-workers (even though you know what your body needs) and your general attitude towards exercise can all be influenced by your colleagues – but they don’t have to be. Have the courage to forge your own path. Don’t be negatively influenced by others because no-one is ever going to care about your health as much as you.

7. Consider finding a healthy peer group for support

If you join me on 28, my online fitness & nutrition program you’ll have me and my crew to support you every step of your journey. You’ll also gain access to our private Facebook community where there are thousands of people, just like you, who are taking positive action towards living fitter, healthier lives.



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Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change. Sam Wood has over 18 years experience in the health and fitness industry, and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators. He is also the founder and trainer at Australia’s number one online fitness and nutrition program, and owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed.