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How to Tone Legs While Sitting

You probably spend a large part of your day sitting down. You sit while you eat, drive, watch television, get on the computer and during many other daily activities. If you also sit while working, you may feel that your life is too sedentary. Although you can't get a cardiovascular work out at your desk, there are several exercises you can do while sitting to strengthen and tone your legs.


  1. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 1
    Do heel lifts to tone your ankles, calves and lower legs.
    • Sit with your back straight and position the balls of both feet on the floor in front of you.
    • Lift your heels from the ground while keeping your toes touching the ground. Hold for a few seconds then lower them and repeat.
    • Place a stack of magazines, some books, your heavy briefcase, or whatever you have handy on your lap to add resistance.
    • Increase the amount of weight and the number of repetitions when the exercise gets easy.
  2. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 2
    Try the same exercise in reverse, known as toe lifts. Keep your heels on the floor this time as you raise and lower your toes.
  3. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 3
    Tone your thighs with leg extensions.
    • Sit straight in your chair and extend both legs in front of you. Hold the extension for a few seconds then release and repeat.
    • Put your feet under the seat of the chair in front of you if you are doing these exercises in a theater, auditorium, while riding public transportation, or someplace else where there is a place to hook your feet. Raise your legs after doing the extension by adding resistance with the object your feet are under.
  4. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 4
    Increase the difficulty of your leg extensions by adding extra steps.
    • Sit at the edge of the chair. Bend one leg at the knee and extend the other leg. Make 3 to 5 circles with your extended leg in the same direction. Rest your extended leg, and then repeat the circles with the same leg, going in the opposite direction. Repeat the exercises with the other leg.
    • While sitting in the same position with one leg bent, point your toes on your extended leg and draw the letters of the alphabet on the floor with your toes. After completing the alphabet with one leg, repeat the exercise with the other leg.
  5. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 5
    Strengthen and tone your inner thighs.
    • Sit back in your chair with both feet on the floor and place a towel, small pillow, sweater, or similar item on the floor between your feet.
    • Lift the object off the ground with your feet. Make the exercise more challenging by squeezing your thighs together at the same time.
    • Place the item between your knees and repeat the lift and squeeze motion. Increase the repetitions as the exercise gets easier.
  6. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 6
    Strengthen your leg muscles and tone the back of your legs with knee lifts.
    • Sit in your chair with both feet on the floor. Lift one knee as high as you can, pointing the toes on that foot while lifting. Lower your leg to the floor, rest and repeat on the same leg 5 to 10 times.
  7. Image titled Tone Legs While Sitting Step 7
    Add variety to your leg work out by adding some more active exercises.
    • Sit on the edge of your chair and do leg kicks. Kick out one leg as forcefully as you can, lifting it up into the air as you kick. Hold onto the side or arms of the chair for balance. Repeat 5 to 10 times, then switch legs.
    • Fully extend both legs in the air and do leg crosses. Cross your legs and then uncross them. Keep your legs held in the air while your re-cross them with the opposite leg on top. Uncross them and lower both feet to the floor. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by increasing the number of repetitions between rests.
    • Repeat the same crossing and uncrossing of your legs, this time keeping your feet on the floor instead of crossing your legs in the air. This exercise is known as seated jumping jacks.


  • Chair exercises are increasing in popularity because they are easy to do, take only a few minutes and can be done anywhere, often without people around you even knowing you are exercising.
  • Studies suggest that the health benefits of chair exercises not only include muscle strengthening and toning, but also pain relief and increased circulation and range of motion. In addition to the leg exercises mentioned, you can also do chair exercises that benefit other parts of your body.

Article Info

Categories: Leg Strengthening Exercises