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Is It Exercise Gear or Office Furniture?

If your definition of a workout is balancing a box of doughnuts in one hand and an extra-large (excuse us, Venti) vanilla latte in the other before sitting in your office cubicle all day, it might be time to reevaluate your fitness routine.

Luckily, you can start in the comfort of your own desk. More and more exercise equipment is showing up in workplaces around the world as office furniture, which means you can walk, pedal or balance your way to a healthier life.

Check out some of the most popular fitness gear that’s moonlighting as health-improving desks and chairs:

Stability balls: If you see oversized rubber balls bouncing into your office they’re probably not for a circus act involving a very agile elephant. Everyone from grammar school students to office workers have taken to sitting on them at their desks. According to, stability balls help strengthen abdominal muscles, protect the lower back and improve posture, thus helping with balance and stability. However, before you go blowing one up for your office, experts also caution that without backrests and armrests, the balls don’t not provide enough upper body support, which could cause neck and shoulder strain.


Treadmill desks: If you’ve gone the standing desk route, but want to up the fitness ante, then it might be time to throw in a treadmill (actually, we don’t recommend throwing the treadmill. They’re rather large, not to mention heavy, but you know what we mean). A treadmill desk is exactly what it sounds like: a standing desk with a treadmill that you walk on at low speeds (usually 0.8 to 1.2 miles per hour) while you work. Worried about how you’ll get your work done with your head bobbing the way it naturally does when you’re walking or running? According to a reviewer from Popular Mechanic, once you get used to it, walking at such low speeds shouldn’t interfere with your ability to type, write or even talk on the phone (you shouldn’t be huffing or puffing). Burning calories and increasing your energy levels through the course of your eight-hour shift? No sweat!


Biking at work
Bike desks: For those who aren’t the walking sort and who find it more comfortable to work while seated, let the cycling desk rock …err… roll your world. More compact than a treadmill desk, a bike desk offers many of the same benefits: Improved circulation and productivity, muscle building and calorie burning. For work, you operate them at low resistance, so you won’t be breaking out in a sweat or be too winded to answer a phone call. There are a variety of options for cycling through your work day. Whether you buy a full cycling workstation (they come in spin and recumbant styles), an adjustable height desk you prop your actual bike underneath or pedals you place on the floor under your regular desk, you can start training for your Tour de Work.



Standing desks: Sitting all day can be more than a pain in your butt. Spending more than six hours a day seated is linked to higher mortality rates (especially in women) according to a study from the American Cancer Society released in 2010. Enter electric adjustable-height desk, which allow you to work from a sitting or standing position with the touch of a button. Beyond potentially adding years to your life, standing more on the job can also improve blood circulation and reduce muskuloskeletal discomfort.


Muscle-activating chairs: Want to ease your way into workaday fitness? Do it while sitting in a chair that strengthens the core muscles in your back and abdomen while improving your posture. While many of these ergonomic chairs look like nothing more than glorified stools, they purport to help improve posture and concentration, allow deeper breathing and take pressure of the spine. Okay, so you probably won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by the end of the day, but your back probably won’t be aching quite so much.

Anti-fatigue mats: They look a bit like yoga mats, but don’t be fooled. These cushioned floor mats will help you sooth your aching feet as you transition from sitting all day to using a standing desk for part of the day. And hey, in between sitting and standing, why not use it for some midday downward dog action?

Photo courtesy of cote/Flickr

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Photo courtesy of James Dennes/Flickr

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