Exercise is a good way to prevent neck pain from hunching up over computer for zoom calls

12 Sneaky Ways to Exercise on Zoom Calls

Ever thought you must try to fit in more ways to exercise?  How about exercising during your zoom calls?

Zoom calls are so tiring and it’s all too easy to lose focus on what the call is about, even if you’re actually interested in what’s going on. (And yes, neuropsychologists have studied how and why it happens.) Exercising whilst you zoom not only gives you a bit of work out – it also helps you to focus and to be more creative.

It’s a great way to relieve the physical tensions and, let’s face it, the boredom of being stuck in front of a screen.  You’ll discover that you can do it without people noticing.

Here are twelve sneaky ways to exercise during your zoom calls.

Work on your Posture not just Your Posterior

When you’re sitting down whilst you’re on your zoom calls, it’s all too easy to slump in front of the screen.  You get a numb posterior. You sit there with a curved back and before you know it, you’ve got back ache again. Plus you’re yawning your head off because slumping restricts your breathing.  How about working on your posture while you zoom?  Here are some quick fixes to help you sit up during zoom meetings.

Sitting on a Swiss Ball to Stop Your Mental Slump

 1          For example, my friend Juliane says that she uses a Swiss ball or pilates ball.  Balancing on something unstable improves your posture because  you have to use your core and back muscles to stop yourself falling off.  Try making very small circles with your hips  keeping your upper half still.

 Don’t have a Swiss ball?  Simply remind yourself to sit up straight by looking at the little picture of yourself in the zoom window.    Make sure you don’t slump into a rounded back position with your head poked forward.  Tuck in your chin and lengthen the back of your neck. 

A Swiss ball is a way of exercising whilst working on a computer
Sitting on a Swiss ball is good for your posture

Cross Legged and not Cross Eyed

2          Another way is to try sitting cross legged on the floor and keep your posture upright.  One trick is put your computer on a coffee table so that it’s the right height for your eyes. 

3          If sitting cross legged is beyond you (as it is for me for more than about 5 minutes), then try sitting with your back straight against a wall (or the sofa) with your legs out straight in front of you. Just pull the coffee table over your legs. Bend your knees slightly if that’s more comfortable.  Stretching your body up the wall is a great exercise way to exercise your posture. 

Sitting-cross-legged-for-zoom-calls is an exercise that improves your posture

Stand Up for Yourself on Your Zoom Call

Of course, sitting is the new smoking so standing up to work is widely advocated.  Plain standing up uses more energy than sitting down, which is worth remembering.

4      Standing up during your Zoom call helps to strengthen your lower back and can help prevent back pain.  Same as for sitting properly, try stretching yourself upwards as though you want the crown of your head to reach the ceiling.  Keep your shoulders down and make tiny movements to pull your shoulder blades together.  Keep your chin tucked back so that the back of your neck is straight.

 It’s easy to stand up during your zoom call if you have a standing desk.  Even if you haven’t, you can improvise.  I stand my computer on a stiff wicker basket on top of the chest of drawers in our bedroom. 

Standing whilst doing zoom calls is a way to exercise which improves posture

 I bought my husband a standing desk for Christmas.  Now he stands up all day to work. But one hour standing up to work is my absolute limit.   I’m trying to work out why it makes one hip ache – I bet it’s something to do with my posture!

Sneaky Tricks to Exercising Whilst Standing Up

 If you’re standing up it’s much easier to sneak in ways to exercise without other people noticing what you’ re doing.

First check your camera on your computer.  You want it to show a head shot only so that you can move the rest of you without being seen.

6          Try taking small steps backwards and forwards interspersed with side to side steps.  The trick is to keep your head and shoulders quite still and upright whilst you move the rest of you. 

7          Another is to walk on the spot.  Try raising your knees up in front of you to strengthen your hips.  Ok, people will see you moving but then everybody moves a bit. 

Sneaky Ways to Exercise Without Moving

Balancing strengthens the muscles around your knees and hips. In later life, it helps to stop falls. Don’t forget to keep your head central and your chin tucked in slightly and it will help your posture muscles too. 

8          A really easy exercise to do without moving is to stand on one leg. I find it easier to tuck the ankle of my non-standing leg around the calf muscle of my standing leg. Hold it for as long as you can, then move to the other leg. Keeping your hands or arms on your desk or computer makes it easier to keep your balance.

9          A good hip flexor stretch for zoom calls is to lift one leg up behind you, grab your foot and then pull it in towards your glutes.  Align the knee on the leg you’re holding with the knee on the other leg. Do it gently: it can be a bit tough if your flexors are really tight.

Standing on one leg is a good way to exercise on a Zoom Call

And it’s another balance exercise, so helps to strengthen the muscles that stop you falling over.  If it’s tricky to begin with, hold on to your desk with the other hand.

Ways to Exercise that aren’t a Pain in Your Neck (or Shoulders)

Staring at a screen all day can cause a lot of neck and shoulder problems.  Here are my favourite releasing exercises. 

10        Clasp hands behind your back and lift up your hands backwards, away from your body, as high as you can.  Be sure not to raise your shoulders and shoulder blades, but slide them downwards. Don’t forget to keep your chin tucked into your chest. 

11        Another simple exercise is to hold your hands behind your back and keeping your chin tucked in, squeeze your shoulder blades together. 

12        This is the one that works best for me.  Behind your back, put your palms together with your fingers pointing upwards as if you are praying or giving a namaste.  Once you’ve wriggled your way roughly into position, then gently move your elbows backwards to increase the stretch.

All of these stretch the tight muscles we get from endlessly peering at a screen.

Breathing Life into Your Zoom Call

It sounds funny to include breathing as exercise, but there is no reason why you can’t practise increasing your lung capacity and triggering your parasympathetic nervous system whilst you’re watching a zoom call. 

13        Whether sitting or standing, check your posture and then take a deep breath through your nose right down into your belly. If you like, count as you breathe in to, say, 3 or 5.  Hold for a second or two, then breathe out slowly and gently. Hold for a couple of counts and then gently breathe in again.

If you don’t already know the technique, you might need to practise it at times other than on the Zoom call. To help you practise this diaphragmatic breathing, first place your hands on your belly and push them out as you breathe in.  Do it a few times and then breathe normally for a while so that you don’t overbreathe.

 It’s really good for bringing down your pulse rate and blood pressure.  That means you won’t be so stressed – you’ll relax which means that you can focus better on the zoom call. 

Banish Boring: Zoom into Creative Ways to Exercise

 When you’re on a zoom call, have you ever surreptitiously looked through your emails?  Or perhaps you felt unbelievably embarrassed when you got caught out looking at your best friend’s photos.  All you could do was umm and errr when you were asked for your views.  Disaster! 

But you could multitask AND pay attention if you try doing a few exercises.  It is surprising how it energises you. Plus, at the end of the zoom call, it almost feels as though you’ve been to the gym.  (Well perhaps, although it’s never going to turn you into an Olympian athlete!)

Even if you weren’t inspired by that zoom call, the exercises relax you. You feel in a better mood, you can focus better and you became more creative. Suddenly you have lots of ideas and more to say. 

Yes, all those little exercises can trigger the release of dopamine and endorphins – the feel good hormones.  Just a few little exercises could make all the difference to your mood and your day.

Try it the next time you’re on a zoom call.  It will make you feel better about the meeting and yourself.

A Word of Warning: Make sure it’s safe before you start exercising.  Take it slowly and don’t overdo it.  Hold onto something secure if you feel wobbly. Stop if it hurts. If you have any doubts, especially if you have any medical conditions, ask your doctor if it’s all right to exercise.


5 thoughts on “12 Sneaky Ways to Exercise on Zoom Calls”

  1. Avatar for Rebecca

    A perfect blog for our Zoom-laden times! I have a thin exercise band on my desk for an arm and shoulder mini work out that I use during some calls. Obviously its easier when you can have the camera off and probably not for when you are the one presenting! Working out what you can do without being detected is quite fun, I haven’t been called out on anything yet….

    1. Avatar for Rosemary Bointon

      Yes, I now can’t do a zoom call without having a surreptitious stretch or exercise. I’m thinking of doing another article no exercises you can do with very small movements so that they wouldn’t really be seen. What do you think?

  2. Avatar for Joy Healey

    Hi Rosemary,
    Great ideas. I listen to a lot of online courses and am ashamed to say if they go on too long I nod off – same with TV. But those exercises will keep me awake – and learning better.
    Oops, another reason to get my standing desk organised again. Like you, an hour or so is enough for me. But that must be better than nothing.
    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark

    1. Avatar for Rosemary Bointon

      I’ve improvised with an Ikea basket on a chest of drawers for my ‘standing desk’. It’s good for zoom calls but not for working on the computer. I’ve never fallen asleep – big admiration for you for doing that! But I do tend to slump down onto the chest of drawers – and that’s what gave me the idea about exercising. Hope you get lots of exercise!

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