Great Gear for Working Out at Your Desk
You've seen the studies and read the news, and you know that sitting down all day is bad for you. But what can you do if your job requires you to spend hours and hours every day at a desk?
Turns out, you can do a lot. Whether it's a desk that lets you exercise or an app that reminds you to get up and take a walk, here are some great ways to keep your heart rate up and burn some calories while working at your desk-bound PC.
Spend More Time on Your Feet
You can start by getting off your duff. A standing desk allows you to get work done while staying on your feet. However, being on your feet all day can be just as hard on the knees and ankles as sitting all day can be on your spine. Consider an adjustable desk that can easily convert from standing height to sitting height, and change positions throughout the day.
Take a Walk Without Leaving Your Desk
Why just stand when you could be walking instead? The TrekDesk ($479) is a roomy wrap-around workstation that sits over a treadmill. You can go for a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk, while still taking care of email. It even has cup holders. Another option is to build your own treadmill.
Go for a Ride
If standing around or walking doesn't burn enough calories for your fitness goals, consider this bike desk, which lets you get your heart rate up by doing some brisk pedaling while you work. The FitDesk ($229) bike holds your laptop and provides a comfy place to rest your elbows while you pedal. The company also offers an add-on that you can attach to any stationary-bike setup.
Keep Your Legs Pumping While Saving Your Knees
This rather pricey ($8000) elliptical office desk provides optimal padding for your backside, while giving your legs the opportunity to move. Hammacher Schlemmer's description promises an average burn of 4000 calories in a work week. The desk is height-adjustable at the push of a button, so you can hop off the elliptical and use the desk with a standard chair, or keep it higher for use as a standing desk.
Image: Hammacher Schlemmer
Move Between a Variety of Work Surfaces
An inexpensive ($184) product that offers plenty of variety in positions is the Zen Office. It consists of a Tilt Seat--a small bench-style seat that tilts forward to keep your spine straight--and a shorter Peace Bench that facilitates a kneeling position. You can kneel on the Peace Bench and put your laptop on the Tilt Seat, or sit on the Tilt Seat at a regular desk using the Peace Bench as a laptop stand, or put the laptop on the Tilt Seat on a regular desk to raise your laptop to standing height. The pieces are easy to assemble and tear down, so you can take your work surface with you easily.
Images: Carolina Morning
Keep Working While You Walk Around
For the ultimate in location flexibility, just strap your laptop to your torso with the Connect A Desk ($40) and sit, stand, walk around, or hang out wherever you'd like. You might get a few odd stares by wandering around the office like this, but you can rest assured in the knowledge that you're staying healthy and productive at the same time.
Images: Connect A Desk
Add Fidgety-Feet Things Under Your Desk
If you're already happy with your chair and desk setup, but you want to add something to get your legs moving and keep the blood flowing, you can find several such gadgets that fit under your desk. Among them are pedals, sliders, and even a neat seesaw-style apparatus for fidgety feet. Recently our own Anne B. McDonald tested the Peddler.
A Workout for Your Core
You can keep your core muscles in shape with alternative seating. An exercise ball is a great way to get a core workout, but sliding in and out of the desk when you want to get up can be a pain on a rolling ball. Ball chairs ($65 to $100) give you the experience of balancing and bouncing on the ball, while providing the freedom to wheel around the room.
Give Your Eyes a Break
Staring at a computer screen for hours can be as hard on your eyes as sitting in a chair can be on your back. Keep in mind the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. You can set a timer app on your desktop or your smartphone to remind yourself to take these breaks. You can also find several videos on YouTube that will walk you through eye-relaxation exercises.
Relax Your Hands
Your legs aren't the only things you can keep active while you labor at a desk. Your fingers will get some amount of workout from typing, but that's a tiring motion. With a stress ball, your hands get something to fidget with during "thinking times." The USB stress ball ($20) will squish whatever appears on your screen to match how you squeeze the ball--and sometimes it's just nice to watch your spreadsheets collapse down into nothing. Take a look at the demo video.
Take a Break, Then Check Out These Other Articles
The best way to combat the sedentary office lifestyle is simply to get up and walk around. Air-conditioned office air can be dehydrating, so you may as well head over to the water cooler and refill your water bottle while you're up.
When you get back, check out these related articles: