You've heard the facts: the average office worker spends a whopping seven to 10 hours sitting in a chair, you have to engage in 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily to combat the detrimental effects of sitting all day and finding ways to fit in exercise throughout the day could be just as beneficial as carving out a full 30-minute workout after work.
The health perks of squeezing in a little exercise here, a little effort there are no joke, plus they're actually really important for your overall happiness. There are plenty of desk workouts available out there and especially on Pinterest, but for those of you who feel a little silly doing triceps dips off the side of your chair and squats while your coworkers work on spreadsheets five feet away, they're probably not the most appealing option.
Before you resign yourself to a sad, stationary cubicle existence, consider transforming your office space into a fit-friendly oasis that will be the envy of all your fellow deskmates. No matter the amount of space, there are plenty of products out there designed to allow the health-conscious worker to fit in those little bits of exercise magic throughout the day.
The 9-5 Grind
1. Standing Desk
The obvious seems as good a place as any to start. Standing desks have been the buzzword in the nine-to-five universe for a few years now and for good reason. Sitting wreaks havoc on our bodies and researchers recommend being on your feet rather than slouching in your chair for four hours of the typical eight-hour workday. Four hours by way of lunch hour walks around the building and nonchalant strolls to the breakroom and back is a productivity killer, but the standing desk makes that number super attainable. If your company is big on wellness, they might even be willing to throw some dollars toward the desk, but if not there are other options. If you're handy and a fan of Ikea hacks, you might prefer to just build one yourself, stack up old textbooks or place a small side table on top of your current desk.
2. SkinnyMe Bangles
Fashion, meet function. Weighing in at a half pound each, these hand-painted bracelets with a pop of metallic are perfectly acceptable to wear with anything from business-casual blouses to a pencil skirt and blazer getup. With three vibrant colors available, your reputation as the office fashionista won't suffer. Take full advantage of the extra weight on your arms by engaging in some subtle bicep curl motions or simple raises at your desk. Feeling extra motivated? Stack your bangles for an extra burn.
Photo courtesy of SkinnyMe Bangles
It might not have the appeal of a bumping soundtrack or a maybe-too-enthusiastic instructor smiling as she tells you you have just one more mile to go, but this under-the-desk cycling option is still pretty addictive—and your desk chair is probably a lot more comfortable than a bike seat. Winning? With eight resistance levels and the option to pedal backward or forward, this versatile contraption offers endless options for variety in your desk workout. Think just rotating your legs without engaging your upper body won't yield any noticeable calorie deficit? You can calculate roughly what your own calorie burn would be based on your age, height, weight, resistance setting and more right on their website before you buy. Scorching 80 calories while answering emails for 30 minutes sounds like a sweet deal for your calorie counter.
4. Gaiam Balance Ball Chair
If you fear the office prankster taking a sharp pair of scissors to your bouncing stability ball, this chair might be a better option. All the core-strengthening power of the ball, but with more maneuverability and a more sophisticated look for those in offices with a strict interior designer. Challenge your center by rotating your weight left to right around the ball or lifting your feet off the ground throughout the day.
5. Hand Grip
Not just for dads in the 80s, hand grips are a great way to strengthen your forearm while your other arm is free to write that expense report. Find one with an adjustable resistance so you can slowly work up in weight. Don't forget to swap hands every so often—no one wants to accidentally end up with one Hulk arm and another that looks like it's been in a cast for six months. Plus, since the movement mimics stress balls, it might even help calm your nerves after that frustrating meeting with your boss. Just be sure to squeeze under the desk so no one senses your agitation.
6. Cute Timer
It's happened to all of us—you make a promise to yourself to walk to the breakroom for a much-needed cup of Joe but then your email buzzes just as you're trying to finish writing this one last sentence and then you have an idea pop into your head that could be the answer to that client problem everyone has been trying to solve and suddenly two hours have passed and you're still seriously under caffeinated. Stop the cycle with the addition of a simple timer. Set the alarm to go off every hour to remind you to get up out of your chair and take a walk somewhere, anywhere. The time away from your desk will be good for your body, creativity and productivity, we promise.
Because everything can't be easy, it turns out that standing too much is also not so great for you due to the added pressure extended periods of standing puts on your back and feet. Ideally, a balance between sitting and standing is best, but that doesn't mean plopping down in your desk chair and assuming a shoulder slump. You can (and should) be conscious of both your posture and level of movement while sitting. The HOVR, a suspended contraption featuring two disks that hangs under any desk, was invented with the hours of sitting that plague office workers in mind. Mayo Clinic NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis) -certified, the HOVR keeps your legs active even while seated, which not only increases your calorie burn, but also improves circulation and mental alertness. Quite the résumé for a feet swing.
Photo courtesy of HOVR
8. Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer
If you've already jumped on the standing desk bandwagon, up the ante with this small, but mighty portable elliptical. Standing while cycling your legs adds an extra core challenge that you'll feel the next day—in a great way. The miniature version of your favorite low-impact gym machine will ensure that you target your calves, glutes and thighs even on days you can't make it to the gym. Plus, its compact size means the device can also fit under your desk, too.
What's your favorite way to stay active at the office?
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