Desk Exercise With Equipment

Text reading "Wellness at Work, Desk Exercise With Equipment" and image of a man sitting on an exercise ball doing arm stretchesIf you’re ready to add a little activity to your work day, why not try desk exercise with equipment? In today’s post we’ll start off with the whys – from fighting sitting disease to adding a little fun to your day.

Then we’ll take a look at some of the hows – from budget friendly light weights to under desk treadmills. Plus others in between.

Being more active in the office doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, sweat-inducing or embarrassing. Read on to decide which option will work best for you…and of course your workmates if they’re up for it.

5 Good Reasons To Exercise At Work

To Fight Sitting Disease

The average office worker is spending too many hours sat in front of the screen. We were designed to be more active and as a result, sedentary behavior is on the rise. Sitting disease is big news as you’ve probably heard. You’re no doubt also aware of Dr. James Levine’s claim that “sitting is the new smoking.”

Sitting for extended periods of time can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It has been linked to diabetes, certain types of cancer and even premature death.

Medic holding blackboard which reads "Healthy isn't a goal, it's a way of living."Exercising at work is one way of increasing activity levels and reducing the health risks we are facing in our modern, working world. Many exercises can be done whilst you work so they don’t need to disrupt your day or hinder your performance. In fact, exercising at work can improve your output.

Click here for the Heart Foundation’s blog post “Is Sitting The New Smoking?”

To Fight Weight-Gain

This is very closely linked to the problems we face from sitting disease. After about 30 minutes of (static) sitting, certain bodily functions slow down. One of these is the metabolism. When the metabolism slows down, the body stores fat and fewer calories are burned.

Our metabolism naturally slows down anyway as we get older, so exercise can give all of us a boost – from young to old. By getting a little exercise in here and there throughout the day, the body is kept on its toes, so to speak. Increased activity means you’re less likely to hit the mid-afternoon slump and your body is encouraged to work a little harder.

To Fight Stress

Man sat at desk looking stressed with his face in his handsThere are different types of stress. Positive stress is essential for a heathy body and mind whereas negative stress can cause all manner of health problems, especially if it’s chronic. When we exercise, our body produces endorphins. These chemicals are there to reduce and manage pain. They also serve to increase pleasure and good feelings plus they help us to deal with stress.

The chemical serotonin is also released through exercise. This is associated with a number of functions including mood regulation, memory, sleep, appetite and arousal. By increasing serotonin levels we can maintain a happier mood and fight off feelings of anxiety or depression.

Then there’s dopamine – another “feel good” chemical which the body releases when we exercise. Also associated with pleasure and reward, our emotions and cognitive behaviors. It helps to keep us happy and positive.

To Improve Productivity

The chemicals and hormones mentioned above also influence our optimism, drive and focus. They are very closely linked to how well we achieve. When we experience increased levels of these natural “uppers” we are more inclined to go that extra mile, to perform at optimum levels and to achieve success.

Exercise also increases our energy levels and helps us to fight off fatigue. When you find yourself with more juice in the tank you’ll be better equipped to complete tasks, achieve targets and smash your to-do list.

To Add A Little Fun To Your Day

Woman sitting on a desk laughing and appearing to have fun with colleagues…and why not??? Goodness knows we all deserve it!

We spend a big part of our lives at work, so why not inject a little more fun into the workplace. Do your own thing or have your colleagues join in too. Hold mini-competitions or raise money for worthwhile causes. Your boss will appreciate a fit, healthy, motivated workforce.

If you’re the boss, lead by example and get moving. Encourage your team to get involved. You could create a wellness at work program with different activities every day – yoga, deskercise, walking meetings. Ask your workers for ideas and maybe set up a fitness committee. The options are endless.

Take care of your staff and make sure they have all they need to be productive and happy. It costs a lot of money to replace good staff, so make your working environment a place where your team not only want to be – but more importantly a place where they want to stay as well.

Now let’s take a look at some of the ways how…

5 Ways To Increase Activity In The Office

(Now would be a good time for me to remind you that I’m not a doctor or a fitness guru. Click here for medical disclaimer. If you have any health issues, please speak to a medical professional before carrying out any new fitness regimes or habits.)

Light Weights

Two 2 kilogram hand weights with weighing scales in the backgroundWhy not give light hand weights a try? These are small and portable weighing from 1 to 2 pounds up to 10 or 15 pounds. Great for working the arms whilst you’re desk-bound. But what’s the best way forward? Lighter weights with more repetitions or heavier weights with less? This is a hotly debated topic so do your research and find the solution that works for you personally.

Ankle or wrist weights can be another great way to improve strength, but they should be used for specific exercises only such as leg lifts or biceps curls. (Not recommended whilst walking or running.) They wrap around the ankles or wrists and usually attach with Velcro. Again, beginning at 1 or 2 pounds and going up to 10 pounds, although these heavier versions may be a little too intense for a gentle office work out.

PROs – small, discrete, low cost.

CONs – misuse can cause muscle damage and strain. (Click here for a direct link to the Harvard Medical School for further info.)

Exercise Balls

Woman stretching legs as she holds on to an exercise ball chairYou have a number of options with the exercise ball. Use it to improve your flexibility and balance, to work on your core muscles, to strengthen the legs or to enhance your yoga practice. The balls come in different sizes for different heights and are extremely lightweight.

However, if you don’t fancy bringing your ball in to work with you every day, why not invest in an exercise ball chair? This popular form of “active seating” is basically a ball on a base which keeps your core engaged and your posture correct whilst you are seated. Simply remove the ball for working out and replace it when it’s time to get back to work.

Most exercise balls or ball chairs come with basic work out instructions. Exercises range from very easy-going for the beginner to more advanced for the seasoned pro.

PROs – suitable for beginners, lightweight, low cost, small footprint for basic sitting exercises.

CONs – need more room for advanced exercises / workouts.

Balance Boards

Balance board supporting a person wearing sneakers and denim trousersThere are a wide variety of balance boards on the market right now – the rocker-roller, the sphere and ring (think Saturn), the wobble board and more.

Years gone by, as a circus act the balance-boarder would amaze the crowds by somehow maintaining equilibrium whilst teetering from side to side on what was effectively a block of wood placed on top of a roller. (I’m sure it was fun if you were there.)

Things are a little different now. With the advent of the standing desk, the balance board as an accessory serves to work the core and improve balance and co-ordination – hopefully without the gasps of the onlooking crowd. In addition, it can help to improve the posture and reduce lower back pack. It’s also reported to help prevent ankle and knee injury by strengthening the joints.

When used in conjunction with your standing desk, you can enjoy all the benefits whilst working as normal and hardly notice that you’re exercising.

PROs – easy addition to the standing desk, takes up a small space.

CONs – none really – suitable for all. Take care and adjust initially if your balance isn’t great!

The Under Desk Elliptical

Woman sat as desk in front of laptopOtherwise known as a peddler or desk cycle. These units are generally fairly compact and your colleagues will hardly notice that you’re exercising whilst you work (not to be confused with the full desk cycle – a bike without wheels which you sit on as you pedal at your desk.) The elliptical can be either motorized or manual and with or without adjustable resistance.

In simple terms, you pedal away whilst getting on with your daily to-do’s. Great for toning – namely the legs and glutes, and for keeping the legs active whilst you’re seated. Can be useful for improving general fitness, assisting weight loss and for boosting the circulation.

PROs – compact, discrete, great general health benefits.

CONs – this is a tough one. If you’re looking to spend less time sitting, this won’t be the choice for you.

The Under Desk Treadmill

Man walks on the lifespan TR800 treadmill whilst working on his laptopNow we’re really taking things to another level. The under desk treadmill is unlike any treadmill you will find in the gym. (Unless it’s an office / gym hybrid.)

The difference is that under desk treadmills are designed specifically for less speed which actually puts more drag on to the motor. A regular treadmill working at low speeds for extended periods may give up long before you do.

With a walking treadmill, the plan is for you to increase your activity by walking – rather than jogging or sprinting – a great way to increase your activity without breaking a sweat.

You can pick up a very basic, no frills or spills model for around $100. However, you’ll be lucky to get a few weeks or months out if it if you use it every day. For top of the range models, obviously you’re looking at a much higher price tag. Higher still for a fully integrated treadmill desk. 

Click here to find out what you can expect from an under desk treadmill at around $500, along with our top 3 mid-range product recommendations.

But this is the future of active office furniture and although prices have come down recently, better models are becoming more affordable still. So if your paycheck won’t quite stretch just yet, you may not have to wait too long. Or even better than making the investment yourself, why not ask the boss. Many employers are recognizing the benefits of walking workstations and the positive impact they can have on the workforce.

PROs – great for increasing activity and fitness levels, doesn’t need to interfere with your workload.

CONs – takes up a lot of room, high up on the price scale.

The Desk Exercise With Equipment Sum-Up

Come on now…no excuses – desk exercise with equipment has something for everyone! From light weights and exercise balls to balance boards and under desk ellipticals. Or if you really want to ramp up your activity the walking treadmill may be just what you’re looking for.

Of course there are many other ways to add more activity to your workday, so choose something that works for you and make it a healthy new habit.

Being more active in the office comes with many benefits which include fighting sitting disease, weight gain and stress. It can also help to increase your productivity along with adding a little fun, making your work day more enjoyable as well as being better for your physical and mental health.

We spend a lot of time at work, so ideally it should be in a place we look forward to being in, that makes us happy, keeps us healthy and allows us to meet – or exceed – our goals.

As well as the methods we’ve included above, you can also keep active and stay healthier at work with little or no equipment. Check out these posts to find out more…

How do you keep active in the office? We’d love to hear from you – drop us a comment in the box below or email For more ideas and inspiration check out our other posts in the Wellness at Work hub.

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