Easy, Quick, and Effective – The Perfect 5-Minute Desk Exercise For Your Workday!

For a successful desk exercise, you don't need equipment, special gear, or specific clothing. A few minutes is all you need! See the illustrative examples at the end of this article.

The expert for this article is physiotherapist Sini Korhonen:

“Every little thing, like walking to the printer or the break room, is important not only physically, but also mentally. It also matters whether you choose the elevator or the stairs. Additionally, it’s good to develop routines during the workday, such as rotating your shoulders every time you get up from your chair.”

The Perfect Five-Movement Desk Exercise

Here you’ll find break exercise instructions designed by physiotherapist Sini Korhonen for the whole body. Perform each movement for a couple of minutes.

1. Rounding the back and opening the chest

Bend over, letting your upper body dangle towards the floor. Stand up, stretch your arms to the sides, and open your chest. Repeat. Remember the breath calmly.

2. Rising on your toes

Lift your heels off the floor and rise onto your toes. Lower your heels back down. Repeat.

3. Side stretch

Place your right foot behind your left leg, crossed. Raise your left hand up. Bend your side to the right. Repeat in the opposite direction.

4. Arm sawing

Reach forward alternately with each hand, creating a twisting motion in your torso.

5. Rolling shoulders

Roll your shoulders a few times backward and forward. Perform a pumping motion by lifting your shoulders towards your ears. Repeat the series.

What is break exercise?

Break exercise is light movement that increases alertness and activates the body during the workday. The perfect break exercise is easy, quick, and effective. It only takes a few minutes, and you can perform the movements regardless of where you are or what you are wearing.

Why is taking breaks important? Because most people spend their workdays sitting in front of a computer. Posture slumps, the body becomes inactive, and standing for long periods feels laborious. These tips can help you check if your working posture is optimal.

If you spend most of your workday in the same position, there is unilateral pressure on the joints and muscle strain is imbalanced: some muscles are strained while others are at rest.

According to physiotherapist Sini Korhonen, it’s important to interrupt the static position and change it throughout the workday – the key to wellbeing is changing your working position during the day. Adding a couple of minutes of regular break exercises can work wonders for your endurance and help you perform tasks without fatigue.


A good desk exercise is simple and easy – you can do it anywhere, anytime. With small, easy movements, you can get the necessary activation for your body during the workday.

“For a desk break you don’t need a change of clothes or any special equipment.​”

Sini Korhonen, Fysioterapeutti


Exercise recommendations emphasize the importance of light movement and breaking up sitting time more than ever. This should be done daily, and the more frequently, the better. A few minutes at a time is sufficient.

Wisely spaced breaks during the workday also bring energy to your leisure time. At the heart of adult exercise recommendations is the familiar advice: 2.5 hours of heart rate-raising exercise per week. Studies show that even vigorous exercise after work does not compensate for the health risks of sitting; activation must also occur during workdays.

Desk breaks are effective

Research shows that even a few minutes of break exercise brings significant benefits to mental and brain health. Break exercise movements balance the load on muscles, joints, and support structures. At the same time, taking breaks also increases efficiency, concentration, alertness, and learning. According to a study conducted by the Finnish Occupational Health Institute (2018), active use of the break exercise app Cuckoo improves users’ recovery, reduces sick leaves, and enhances the sense of community in the workplace.

“Desk breaks increase efficiency, concentration, alertness and learning new things.”

Sini Korhonen, Fysioterapeutti

Want to try Cuckoo?

Register for free and feel the positive impact!

More efficient workdays with Cuckoo

Cuckoo is a wellbeing software where you can find over 100 break exercises, created by physioterapists. The gamified features really attracts you to take those breaks: for every break you take, you will collect points and participate in weekly raffles.

Gamified wellbeing for your workday

By collecting points you will move on our Cuckoo map and participate in competitions with great prizes, while maintaining your wellbeing. You can also challenge and follow your colleagues in the app as well as create groups within your company. Cuckoo is used by over 200 leading companies and organizations. Are you the next one?

Cuckoo is based on science.

According to research from the Institute of occupational health in Finland Cuckoo contributes to work wellbeing in many ways; social, mental and physical. Sick leave days decreased and significant amounts of money were saved. Other effects were increased sense of community and better recovery. Read more here.