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From grip strengtheners to treadmill desks, desk exercise equipment makes it possible for people to be more physically active at work or while seated. These fitness devices are usually portable and manual, suitable for use while sitting at a desk.
The growing interest in exercising while working may be a response to the amount of time people spend working and the risks of sedentary behavior. In 2019 and 2020, people in the United States spent around 7.6-7.7 hours working each day. Many of these people may spend much of that time sitting down.
Recently, manufacturers have begun making workstations that allow people to exercise while they work.
Manufacturers of desk exercise equipment make various claims for the benefits they provide, such as:
- balance balls promote micro-movements that may burn calories and help keep people alert
- under desk bikes and elliptical trainers may keep the blood moving and prevent fluid buildup
- fitness bands and chair gyms may strengthen muscles
- grip strength balls may promote hand strength and help relieve tension
- treadmill desks may reduce back pain
Not all of these claims have backing from objective studies or research.
However, one study found that under desk elliptical trainers had a limited effect on work performance but noted their potential health benefits and how people used them to improve their moods.
In another study, researchers found that individuals who used a treadmill desk while reading texts and emails had higher levels of recall and attention than those who remained sedentary. These results indicate using a treadmill desk may enhance workplace performance, as well as employee health.
While desk exercise equipment can encourage physical activity, it should not replace other forms of exercise.
Organizations and individuals interested in exploring desk exercise equipment have various factors to consider:
- Space: Check product dimensions to ensure that under desk equipment, such as ellipticals and foot pedals, will fit properly and accommodate the user’s movement pattern.
- Cost: Cost can be an indicator of quality, but it should also realistically reflect the level of commitment people bring to their fitness routines. Consider shipping costs as well.
- Distraction: It may be difficult for some users to concentrate while walking on a treadmill. Others might not have any problem concentrating, but their co-workers could find the noise distracting. Before purchasing desk exercise equipment, ensure that it will not distract users and those around them.
- Safety and equity: Though most desk exercise equipment does not require the same exertion as standard gym equipment, there is always some risk associated with movement. Companies interested in helping employees exercise while working should establish clear policies regarding these activities and ensure employees know their rights and responsibilities.
To find the best desk exercise equipment, people should think seriously about their fitness and health goals.
Those who want to fit muscle-toning exercises into their day could benefit from fitness bands or a gym chair. Those who want help focusing might prefer a balance ball. Those looking for activities to keep their blood flowing might be more interested in under desk bikes, ellipticals, or treadmills.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
Gaian claims this balance ball chair can promote active sitting, good posture, and proper spinal alignment while strengthening the back and core.
The balance ball chair is made of PVC and is latex-free. It features rollable wheels that are lockable.
It is suitable for people between 5 feet (ft) and 5 ft 11 inches (in) tall and has a sitting height of 24-25 in. It supports up to 300 pounds (lbs), and the chair itself weighs 13 lbs. Its dimensions are:
- 22 in wide
- 31 in high
- 22 in deep
At the time of publication, the chair costs $69.98 on Gaiam’s website and is available in various colors. Gaiain offers a range of other balance ball chairs, including options for children.
The Cubii is an under-desk elliptical machine that allows people to exercise their legs while seated at a desk.
The manufacturer says it runs quietly and is compact, so it suits small spaces or low desks.
It is suitable for people at all levels of fitness and rehabilitation purposes.
With eight levels of resistance, users can burn up to 150 calories an hour. Users can subscribe to Cubii Studio + and get access to live and on-demand exercise classes.
It comes in two different colors.
At the time of publication, the Cubii JR1 is available on the manufacturer’s website for $269.00.
This under-desk bike trainer exercises the legs. It has eight calibrated resistance levels and uses magnetic resistance for smooth and quiet operation.
It fits under desks as low as 27 in and weighs 23 lbs. Its dimensions are:
- 24 in long
- 20 in wide
- 10 in high
This product features a removable LCD that displays speed, time & distance. It requires two AA batteries to operate.
The DeskCycle retails for $189.00 and is available on Amazon.
This treadmill allows people to work or run while using a standing desk. It allows for speeds of 0.4–4.0 miles per hour (mph)
The portable console can fit on the user’s desktop. The treadmill arrives fully assembled and is equipped with transport wheels to simplify storage.
This treadmill can support up to 215 lbs. Its dimensions are:
- 60.5 in long
- 26 in wide
- 6.5 in high
The belt size is 18 in wide and 45 in long. The step-up height is 3.75 in.
At the time of publication, the LifeSpan TR800-DT3 is available on the manufacturer’s website for $1,099.99.
Designed to add resistance safely without the use of heavyweights, these resistance bands provide a full-body workout.
TheraBands are versatile and compact, allowing for a range of exercises and stretches. They are useful for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
TheraBands are color-coded to represent how much resistance in pounds they offer, ranging from 2.4–14.2, so people can track their progress as they build strength and mobility.
At the time of publication, a range of TheraBands is available on Amazon from around $10 and up.
Desk exercise equipment can help encourage physical activity when a person spends long periods sitting at a desk. Options range from balance balls and fitness bands to under-desk ellipticals and treadmill desks. These choices offer different workouts and may help improve posture, build strength, and support circulation.
People should choose products that will suit their lifestyle and fitness goals. Companies hoping to improve employee well-being may want to consider investing in desk exercise equipment.
Research into the benefits of desk exercise equipment is limited. People should not use desk exercise equipment in place of regular physical activity.