How to Exercise at the Office: Finding the Best Under Desk Exercise Equipment

A lot of people nowadays don’t have the time to go to the gym or do any kind of workout. Between career pursuits and other commitments, many people lead very busy daily lives. In fact, the latest National Health Interview Survey has found that only half of all U.S. adults are getting the recommended amount of exercise. Although it’s good to be ambitious and look to achieve as much as possible in your career, you still need to take care of your health.

So what do you do? You can’t neglect your work to remain healthy, but going the other way and never exercising doesn’t seem like the best option either. Luckily, there are ways for you to add daily exercises to your schedule and incorporate fitness into your busy lifestyle.

Some of the latest innovations that allow you to do this include under desk training equipment or desk exercise equipment. Training equipment is designed to help you train while at your desk, doing work. No longer will long hours spent at your work desk stop you from training, and you won’t have any excuses for not exercising.

Under desk exercise equipment

An adjustable height desk

In order to make sure that you can do as much exercise as you want at your desk, you should really first look at the desk you’re using. Your desk might be holding you back from using amazing exercise equipment because of its small size and lack of space. Additionally, some exercises are done standing, while some are done sitting down.

But don’t worry! If you think you would like the freedom and flexibility of sitting and standing at work, and the ability to use many different types of exercise equipment under your desk, take a look at our Guide to Standing Desks.

A standup desk can help you with all of these issues. Whenever you feel you need to stand up and stretch your back a bit, you can simply make it higher. On the other hand, if you need more leg space so that you can work under the desk, you can also adjust the height to find what works best for you.

Under desk treadmill

Rebel Treadmill 1000 Under Desk Treadmill
An under desk treadmill such as this is a fantastic way to burn calories at work.

There are several versions of treadmills for the office. You can find big treadmill desks, where you will get a treadmill similar to the ones that you can find in your gym combined with a desk-like platform. On the other hand, there are smaller versions that only come with the running strip, which you can then carefully plant under your own desk. Our personal preference is for these simple running strip-style treadmills, as it allows you to use a standing desk normally without the treadmill. Having a fixed treadmill desk is more limiting as it only has the one function, and in the end, adjustability and flexibility are key.

Walking at a steady pace is one of the best activities for the whole body and a brisk 25-minute daily walk can even increase your lifespan. With under desk treadmills, you will not have to find time before or after work to go out for a run or walk. Instead, combine work and exercise, set yourself a specific time or distance, and slowly but surely burn those extra calories and strengthen and tone your muscles at work.

Under desk elliptical

Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical
For those who prefer seated exercise, the Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical is the right option for you.

If you’ve ever been to a gym, you’ll know about ellipticals. Ellipticals are an amazing way to get a similar workout to a walk or run while reducing the amount of stress and weight placed on your joints, especially your knees. This makes the elliptical a good choice if you have conditions like arthritis but still want to exercise at work. The feeling of an under-desk elliptical will be somewhere between a walk and cycle, forcing you to engage your thighs, calves, butt, and core muscles. It’s important to look very carefully at the elliptical you want to buy, as not all of them can fit under every desk, especially if you are taller.

Ideally, look for a product that is compact like the Cubii Pro in the picture above. The Cubii Pro or Cubii Jr will slide under your desk and you will be able to pedal without bumping your knees on your desk.

Also, make sure that they are built out of durable materials and that they’ve been tested. Some versions come with resistance bands with handles that are attached to the base, allowing users to train their upper body as well.

Under desk stepper

Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper
The Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper can be stored under your desk and used at any time. For best results we recommend using it standing.

As it is with most other desk training machines, under desk steppers come in different variations, sizes, and shapes. Some of them can be easily placed under the desk, while others might feel awkward to use.

In our opinion, the stepper is really NOT your best option if you’re thinking about exercising at your desk. Some people love step machines because of the deep workout it gives your butt and thighs, which can produce amazing results for your physique. However, a stepper requires lots of downwards force which, ergonomically, doesn’t work well when seated at your desk.

If you REALLY want a step machine, we think its best to buy a small office sized desk stepper, but to use it while standing and away from your desk to get the full benefit from your workout.

What is great about mini steppers is that they are very portable and you can take yours with you whenever necessary. For example, if you travel for work a lot, you can take it with you and make sure that you always get your workout in.

A step machine can help you work on your butt, core, legs, as well as work on your cardio, all very important for burning calories and increasing stamina.

Under desk pedal exercisers

DeskCycle Under Desk Pedal Exerciser
The DeskCycle is one of the best rated under desk pedal exercisers.

If an under desk elliptical or stepper don’t suit you, there is yet another option for you – under desk pedal exerciser. In most cases, they are the simplest machines that you can find and the price can go as low as $20 each.

However, there are many additional functionalities and accessories that some brands offer, such as Bluetooth connectivity that can sync to your Fitbit, which will obviously make the price higher. There are also motorized versions, while the others offer resistance with friction or magnets.

When choosing a desk peddler, make sure to look at its height and the mechanism it uses to produce friction against the floor to be sure it won’t slip. A good example of a well-constructed desk peddler is the DeskCycle.

Office desk bike

FlexiSopt Office Desk Bike
Although not very portable like a pedal exerciser, the FlexiSpot Office Desk Bike will give you an amazing workout

Desk bikes are similar to some desk treadmills, in the sense that the desk part of the bike is fixed to the bike. If you are a real cycling fan and an under desk pedal machine just won’t cut it, a larger desk cycle might be your answer. There are many different variations of bikes for desks, however, this is the most common. There are a couple of reasons why they are so popular.

Simply put, they are cheaper than big exercise bikes, they are as effective as big bikes, AND they have a desk suitable for working on. This is a very convenient piece of equipment that you can use unobstructed during the whole day to simulate biking.

As we mentioned earlier with the treadmill, you may be limited to what you can do with this style of equipment, as it only has the one function. So, although the desk bike will give you a much tougher workout than an under desk pedal exerciser, the pedal exerciser will give you much more flexibility of use.

Other forms of office exercise equipment

But wait…there’s more! Don’t just limit yourself to under desk equipment when there are many other types of exercise equipment that are just perfect for the office.

Exercise ball chairs

LuxFit Exercise Ball Office Chair
An chair like the LuxFit Exercise Ball Office Chair is a great way to strengthen your core while sitting at your desk.

You can use exercise balls as your office chair. Still, this has its own upsides and downsides. Unlike regular chairs which have been found to constrict arteries and reduce blood flow, the soft and bouncy exercise ball won’t interrupt the blood circulation in your lower back and thighs. However, some people find it difficult to get used to sitting on a ball and they simply feel uncomfortable.

A stability ball is one of the most popular choices for an office. They have a base like a regular chair, but the sitting area is a ball. This removes the problem of flipping over or sliding away to the side. There are some options that have back supports, while others have wheels on their base.

The overall issue with ball chairs is that you have to make an effort to improve your posture while sitting on them. This is how you will activate your core and improve your posture, but if not you will only feel worse.

Tools for training grip

Extension Wrist Strength Trainer
Using an extension trainer can help reduce muscle imbalances caused from typing all day

Strengthening your grip is important for a number of reasons. If you are an office worker whose typing all day, you risk developing stains and pains in your hands and wrists. If you already suffer from Carpal Tunnel or other forms of wrist and forearm pain, maybe you need to strengthen these muscles.

On the other hand, if you have nervous hands and you constantly need to do something with them, this is also the perfect solution – not only will you indulge your habit, but you will also be doing something useful.

As these tools are very small and light, you can always take them with you if you are traveling. There are many different products available which provide varying levels of resistance. Additionally, there are even some models where you can adjust the difficulty by yourself.

Most people know of the standard grip trainer which is shaped like a “V” and you use your grip to squeeze the two handles together, but don’t overlook the use of an “Extension Trainer”. When you’re at your desk typing, the main muscles you are most likely using are your finger flexor muscles. This can cause increased muscle loading on your wrist extensors. Training the muscles of your hands and wrists can be a great way to reduce muscle imbalances brought about by sitting at your desk typing.

Stability cushions

Stability Cushion
A stability cushion forces you to engage your core while seated

This is one of the most widely used strengthening accessories in office environments. This disk-like cushion can be placed on the chair on which you sit. Sitting on the stability cushion will activate all of your core muscles, as they are used to keep your balance.

It might not seem like a big deal but these disks are very effective because they force your body to be active during the whole day, every day. All of the seemingly insignificant and constant motions that you make to improve your stability while seating will stimulate your deep core muscles and make them stronger.

Elastic stretch bands

There are many stretch bands which are very good for any type of resistance exercise. Exercise bands are heavy duty, which makes them suitable for many different activities, including injury recovery and strength training. They are very cheap and usually made out of eco-friendly materials.

Additionally, they are always tested rigorously to make sure that their strength is reliable. They are very cheap, light, versatile, and usually come with how-to guides that can show you a couple of exercises you can do with them.

BOSU Ball

BOSU ball for standing desk
Using a BOSU ball at a standing desk is a great way to engage your core and leg muscles. Image source: Get Healthy U

BOSU is short for “both sides utilized” and this is a very functional exercise tool which has two different sides. On one side there is a flat, hard, usually plastic surface, while on the other there is an inflated dome. There are many variations of exercises that you can do with this tool, but it offers great combinations with other desk equipment.

For example, you can slide it under your desk with the dome side facing up. By sitting in a chair exercise ball and placing your feet on the BOSU at the same time, you will get a more effective exercise. Your stabilizing muscles, abs, and the whole lower body will work even harder.

Another great option is, with your standing desk, standing directly on the ball. The instability from the BOSU ball will force you to contract and tighten your thighs, core, and butt.

Conclusion

Busy schedules should not be an excuse to throw your health and fitness out the window. Everyone can find a few minutes a day to do a little exercise, or even better, multitask your exercise with your work.

There are many options available to you like the under desk exercise equipment, or the small and transportable office exercise gear. Whatever you choose, make sure to do a bit of research first to get a high-quality product that fits your lifestyle and your office.

This article was reviewed and approved by Dr. Praveena Asokan.

The team at Painless Movement are dedicated to bringing you the best product reviews, articles, exercises, and more to help you live a healthy, active, and pain-free life.

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