Pregnancy Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk

If you are an expectant mother, sitting and working eight hours a day can become quite challenging. Here are some simple pregnancy exercises you can do at your desk to alleviate pregnancy discomforts such as back pains, which may be worsened by prolonged sitting.

By D Tejaswi
09 Jan 2023

Only 45 per cent of working women meet the recommended guidelines of at least 150 min of moderate exercise during pregnancy, finds the journal Women’s Health, 2020. Work stress, lack of time, and household chores come in the way of exercising. So, if you are an expecting mother looking for ways to inculcate exercise in your busy schedule, here are pregnancy exercises you can do at your desk, shared by Dr Vinodha Vunnam, a pre and post-natal physiotherapist, birthing therapist, lactation consultant and co-founder of Happy Mom.

However, note that it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise program during pregnancy, as every pregnancy is different and there may be certain limitations or modifications that are necessary.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Related story: How To Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant


Exercise during pregnancy can have many benefits for both you and your baby. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your mood, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, and even improve your labour and delivery experience. Exercise contributes significantly to maternal and foetal well-being during pregnancy, confirms the National Library of Medicine, USA

But working women are at risk for low levels of physical activity. A study published in the journal Women’s Health, 2020 analysed data from 330 pregnant working women found that less than half of the mothers met the recommended guidelines for weekly physical activity. Nearly two out of every five mothers reported not doing more than 30-mins of strenuous exercises in a week and one out of every three mothers reported not doing more than 30-mins of moderate exercises in a week.

“Today’s pregnant women spend a lot of time at their desks putting additional demands on their bodies and minds. Desk jobs limit movements, alter posture and cause stress on some muscles aggravating pregnancy-related discomforts such as swollen feet, hip pain, back pain, neck and wrist pain,” says Dr Vinodha.

But pregnancy and work can go together. There are exercises that every pregnant woman can do without using any equipment. “You just need a chair and spend 10 -15 minutes twice a day,” says Dr Vinodha.

But remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise program during pregnancy. The experts can help you determine what exercises are safe for you based on your needs and circumstances.


Related story: How Much Physical Activity Is Ideal For Pregnant Women


Before you do the exercises, here are some general guidelines for safe exercise during pregnancy:

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you feel comfortable.
  • Listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.
  • Avoid activities that involve lying flat on your back after the first trimester, as this can decrease blood flow to the uterus.
  • Avoid activities that involve jumping or jarring movements, or that have a high risk of falling.
  • Avoid activities that involve holding your breath for extended periods of time.
  • Stay hydrated and wear comfortable, supportive clothing.
  • Place one hand under your belly for support if you’re in your 3rd trimester.


Related story: 11 Incredible Signs Of Pregnancy You Should Know About


Here are some examples of safe exercises to try during pregnancy:

1. Ankle And Toe Circles

  • Sit comfortably in your chair.
  • Lift one leg and move your ankles and toes in upward and downward directions.
  • Rotate the ankle movements in clockwise and anticlockwise circles.
  • Repeat each movement 10-15 times every hour.



How does this help?

This helps prevent fluid accumulation in the legs and prevents swelling, which is commonly seen during pregnancy. Dr Vinodha recommends that you can incorporate a small footrest under your desk to put your feet above ground level. This helps reduce swelling in the legs and as well reduces back pain.


Related story: Make Leg Day Fun: 5 Types Of Squats


2. Seated Leg Marching

  • Sit in a chair, keep your spine erect, knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor, and put your hands on hips.
  • Lift the right knee slowly up towards the ceiling and slowly bring it back, then repeat with the left leg.
  • Repeat alternate leg marching 10 to 15 times every 2 hours.


How does this help?

This exercise improves hip mobility, and core stability, reduces back and hip pain, and strengthens leg muscles.


Related story: 3 Exercises That Build Strong, Toned Thighs


3. Seated Pigeon Pose

  • Sit in a chair. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Fold the right leg and cross over to the left leg at 90 degrees angle so that the right foot is over the left knee
  • Apply gentle pressure on the right knee with your right palm while your left palm holds and stabilises the right foot.
  • Feel the stretch in the outermost part of the right thigh.
  • Hold for 8 to 10 breaths and stretch another side.



How does this help?

This exercise helps to improve balance, improves mobility in the pelvis, and stretches the muscles needed for normal labour.


Related story: Challenge Your Calves With These Walking Exercises


4. Cow Stretch

  • Sit in a chair. Keep your spine erect, feet on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, and palms on the thighs.
  • Inhale and stretch your back backwards. Look up toward the ceiling.
  • Feel the stretch in the lower spine. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
  • Now, exhale and stretch your back forward and drop your head towards your chest.
  • Feel the stretch in the upper spine, and hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
  • Repeat 5 to 8 times.


How does this help?

This exercise stretches and strengthens your spinal muscles, improves posture, and reduces back pain and neck pain.


Related story: Yoga Poses To Help You De-Stress


5. Seated Goddess Pose

  • Sit in a chair. Keep knees bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor, and palms on your thighs.
  • Gently lift your right leg and place your feet on the sides of the chair.
  • Repeat the same with the left leg.
  • Place your palms on the thighs and elbows at shoulder level at a 90 degrees bent angle.
  • Lean forward to the front of the chair.
  • Maintain this for 5 to 8 breaths.



How does this help?

This exercise is a good hip opener. The forward-leaning position helps the baby’s head come down. The exercise as well improves pelvic mobility, reduces back, hip and groin pain.


Related story: 8 Simple Chair Yoga Poses To Recharge Your Body And Mind


6. Seated Spinal Twist

  • Sit straight in a chair.
  • Place your hands on the side of your chair. Do not grab or fix your hands on the armrest or the seat of your chair.
  • Gently twist your chest and abdomen to one side, trying to look on your side.
  • Do not try a deeper twist trying to look behind your back in pregnancy
  • Feel the stretch in the back.
  • Hold for 5 to 8 breaths and relax. Repeat On the other side.



How does this help?

This exercise stretches and loosens up the abdominal and back muscles, and reduces back pain.


Related story: 5 Easy Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk


7. Seated Side Twist

  • Sit in a chair.
  • Keep your right arm straight over the head and place your left hand on the chair side.
  • Breathe in slowly and bend towards the left.
  • Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.
  • Feel the stretch below your right arm.
  • Switch sides and repeat 8 to 10 times.


Related story: 15-Minutes Mobility Routine To Relax Stiff Muscles


8. Neck Side Bends

  • Sit straight in a chair
  • Keep the feet flat on the floor and hands relaxed on the thighs.
  • Slowly raise the right hand up and over your head and place the right palm on the left ear.
  • Pull your head gently towards the right shoulder.
  • Feel the stretch on the left side of the neck towards the left shoulder
  • Feel the stretch and hold for 5 to 8 counts. Switch sides. Repeat 8 to 10 times.


Related story: Running For Weight Loss: Here’s What You Should Know


9. Neck Rotations

  • Drop your chin to the chest, start rotating your neck from your right, backwards, and come to the left and the centre.
  • Repeat clockwise and anti-clockwise 8 to 10 times.
  • For progression, try to make the circles bigger.


Related story: Why Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work


10. Chin Tuck Exercise

  • Sit comfortably.
  • Try to pull your chin backward moving parallel to the ground while stretching and lengthening your cervical spine.
  • Feel the stretch behind the neck and hold it for 5 to 8 breaths.
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times.



How does this help?

Looking at the computer all day long alters your neck posture and adds stress to the neck muscles. This exercise relieves neck pain and corrects your posture.


Related story: Finding Joy Through Exercise


11. Shoulder And Hand Stretch

  • Sit straight, and stretch your arms parallel to the floor.
  • Cross the right arm over to the left and bring palms together to the namaskara fold.
  • Lift the elbows gently up.


How does this help?

This exercise stretches and relaxes the shoulder and upper back muscles.


Related story: Walk For 15-Minutes Thrice A Day To Prevent Knee Pain


12. Wrist Stretches

  • Sit straight in a chair.
  • Keep the hands in front of you, palms facing downwards.
  • Stretch the wrist with gentle pressure of the opposite palm upward and then in downward directions.
  • Feel the stretch in the forearm, wrist and hand muscles.
  • Hold for 5 to 8 breaths. Switch sides and repeat 8 to 10 times



How does this help?

This improves blood circulation in the hand muscles, helping prevent wrist pains.


We see you! Get exclusive access to the best parenting advice from experts. Sign up today.


To get the exclusive and unique experience along with expert staff and unparalleled member services, we at URLife offer a myriad range of wellness services that promote optimum well-being. We are a trusted source for unique holistic health and pregnancy care workshops. Our physiotherapists design customised rehab programs based on health conditions.

We at URLife offer a complete multi-disciplined approach to fitness and well-being. The URLife Studio is a luxe wellness oasis, combining sleek modern design, lavish amenities, state-of-the-art equipment and personalised wellness programs.

  • Yoga
  • Kickboxing
  • Pool and bolly aerobics
  • Pregnancy care workshops
  • Customised physiotherapy
  • Spa
  • Garden Cafe
  • Women’s wellness program





Follow Us On Instagram