Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

5 fab exercises to get you moving at work, home

1/17/2022 by Danielle P. Johnson, M.S., P.T.


Not having enough time to exercise is one of the top reasons people give up on their resolution to get in better shape. But there's a solution that helps you blend exercise into a busy day, all while making you more productive at work. 

As a wellness physical therapist, people often tell me they simply don't have enough time to get a workout in during the week because of their busy work schedules. But lack of time shouldn't be an obstacle. Every bit of physical activity counts. You don't necessarily have to always get to the gym. 

To show you how easy it is to get moving at work, I've developed a program called the "Fab 5." These are five simple exercises you can do in the office or at home to reinvigorate yourself. A lot of studies have shown us that once people get up, move and get active, they're more productive. 

It can take as few as five minutes to do chair squats, desk or countertop pushups, chair pushups, toe raises and lunges. Not only do the exercises count as a resistance training workout, they also can be the key to getting the blood flowing to overcome the midday lull. 

They're simple and easy to do in a small area, and these exercises can be a wonderful way to reenergize you.

Here's how to do the Fab 5: 

The squat

SquatSmallStand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Bend your knees, setting your hips back with your chest upright and the weight in your heels.

Return to a standing position and repeat 10 to 12 times. 

Tip: Don't let your knees come together


 Desk pushups

DeskPushupSmallStand next to a table or desk, leaning onto straightened arms for support. 

Bend your elbows, slowly lowering yourself into a pushup position.

Then push your body back up away from the table and repeat 10 to 12 times. 

Tip: Make sure to keep your back straight. Don't let your hips sag. 


 Chair pushups

ChairPushupSmallSit upright in a chair with your hands resting on the armrests. 

Straighten your arms, lifting your body off the chair.

Hold briefly.

Then lower yourself down and repeat 10 to 12 times. 

Tip: Make sure to use a sturdy chair, and use your legs to balance, as needed. Don't shrug your shoulders during the exercise. 

 Toe raises

ToeRaiseSmallBegin in a standing position. 

Rise up onto your toes, hold briefly, then lower back down, shifting your weight to the heels and lifting the balls of your feet off the ground.

Repeat 10 to 12 times. 

Tip: Make sure to maintain an upright posture and use a chair or desk to help you balance as needed. 

 The lunge

LungeSmallStand upright with your hands resting on your hips and your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Keeping your trunk upright, step backward with your right leg, and lower your body toward the ground into a lunge position.

Carefully return to the starting position.

Repeat with the left leg.

Repeat 10 to 12 times. 

Tip: Keep your trunk steady. Don't let the knee in front collapse inward or move forward past your toes as you lunge. 

 Watch the "Fab 5 Exercises to Get You Moving" video posted to the Mayo Clinic Minute:

Danielle Johnson, M.S., P.T., is a wellness physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester, Minn. She specializes in combining physical therapy with whole-body wellness and integrating fundamental and natural movement patterns, as well as practical and playful movement, into daily experiences.