It’s no secret that Americans are getting fatter. And when you consider the average day of the average American: eight hours sitting in a cubicle in front of a computer before sitting in a car to go sit in front of the TV for the rest of the evening, it’s no real surprise that our waistlines are expanding.
The number of studies on the benefits of exercise rival the number of times you’ve trekked back to the break room for an afternoon bag of Cheetos (ie: numerous).
MSNBC recently reported that professionals who find time to workout during the day feel more productive, have better time-management skills and are less temperamental.
And we’re not talking about running 5 miles during your lunch break either (although that wouldn’t hurt).
You can help boost your mood, productivity and overall well-being by staying active right at your desk.
The Washington Post recently posted videos of 12 different exercises recommended by experts that you can do in the privacy of your cubicle (or perhaps for the amusement of your co-workers).
Don’t feel like you have time during the day to squeeze in fitness? Surely you have a minute or 10 to spare, right?
Aerobic exercise in 60-second or 10-minute bursts can improve your heart health, Kelli Calabrese, MS, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise told WebMD. Everything from quick sets of jumping jacks to running in place to shadow boxing (might want to go into a conference room for that last one) can get your heart pumping and improve your longevity while decreasing your risk for heart disease.
We rounded up 10 fitness products that you can stow at your desk in the chance you’ve skipped the gym one too many times.
1. Treadmill Desk
The concept for this is pretty straightforward – a workspace balanced on top of a treadmill. Instead of sitting all day, you can walk at a slow pace (less than a mile an hour) while you work. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic found that subjects who used a treadmill desk burned 100 calories an hour on average. He estimated that if people used a treadmill desk for eight hours a day, they could lose up to 57 pounds a year. You can purchase ready-made treadmill desks (like this one by TrekDesk) or build your own. Anywhere from $40 for a desk attachment to $1,300 for treadmill with built-in desk.
2. FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk
This one is for those who are more Tour de France than afternoon stroll. Similar to the treadmill desk, except with a stationary bike – the Pedal Desk allows you to sit and pedal your way to fitness. The Pedal desk is more portable than a treadmill desk, but it doesn’t have as much workspace. Cost: $230.
3. Stamina InStride Folding Cycle
Here’s an even more compact cycle machine you can use from the comfort of your desk – even while seated . Weighing in at just 9 pounds, the Folding Cycle comes with a battery-operated electronic monitor to time your workout, as well as several resistance levels so you can change up your routine. Cycling can help improve your flexibility, without putting extra pressure on your joints. And – we’re sure cubicle denizens will love this one – it can reduce back pain. Cost: $39.
4. Stamina Elliptical Trainer
This compact elliptical machine weighs just 24 pounds and can be stowed easily under your desk. Pull it out during your morning coffee break for a quick 10-minute workout, or find a workspace you can stand at to fit in a longer routine while responding to e-mails or typing up a report. Cost: $90.
5. Fitness Ball
Trade your office chair for a fitness or stability ball and you’ll not only improve your balance, but also strengthen your core muscles. When you’re not sitting, use the ball throughout the day for things like wall squats or crunches. Cost: $15-$25.
6. Resistance Bands
Challenge that annoying IT guy to a little arm wrestling after a week or two of working out with this easy-to-store exercise equipment. You can work out your arms, chest, back and shoulders right at your desk. Resistance bands are portable, inexpensive, easy to use and will help increase your coordination. Check out this video for different exercises to try with your resistance bands. Cost: $10-$30.
7. Light dumbbells
Use them for a light arm workout while sitting at your desk or take them along during your lunchtime power walk. Light weights can help you build and tone muscle over time, without putting extra stress on your joints. Keep in mind that even with light weights, if you are able to do more than 10 to 12 reps, then you won’t be building muscle size so much as muscle endurance. Also, be sure to change up your daily routine so your muscles don’t get used to your desktop workouts. Cost: $3-$20.
8. Ankle weights
Why not make walking around the office a little more challenging by adding five pounds to your legs? Adding resistance to your lower body with these little guys will help build up muscle strength over time. They might look a little conspicuous worn with a skirt – so it’s probably wiser (or at least more fashionably conscious) to wear them with pants. And just to be safe, don’t don them with heels. Cost: $8-$15.
Experts recommend that people walk an average of 10,000 steps a day, or about the equivalent of 5 miles. The average number of steps a sedentary person walks is just 1,000 to 3,000. That’s right, we have a lot of catching up to do. Motivate yourself to get moving around the office by wearing a pedometer. Whether it’s heading out for a walk at lunch, or getting up to talk to a co-worker in person instead of just sending an e-mail, this little gadget will help you track your progress and get you moving toward your 10,000th step of the day. Cost: $10-$20.
10. Social Media
No, tossing virtual straw bales on Farmville does not count for actual exercise, but there are plenty of social media sites out there that can help you stay motivated about getting in shape. A post on BlueGlass.com offers suggestions for several places online where you can set your fitness goals, track them and even find support. To get started, check out FitLink and DailyBurn.