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Having an office job is bomb on days when you’re tired and just want to chill, but sedentary life for 40+ hours a week can put serious strain on your body. Long periods of sitting reduces blood flow to your legs, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) as well as diabetes, obesity, and depression.
One study even found a direct relationship between time spent sitting and risk of early mortality of any cause. Um, that’s not terrifying at all. But what are you supposed to do when your job requires being chained to a desk?
Many experts say to set hourly reminder to get up and walk around the office — whether that’s to take a phone call (instead of sitting down to take it), get a drink, or just walking aimlessly. Five minute spurts of movement can lift your mood, restore dwindling energy levels without losing focus, and are apparently more beneficial than taking a single long walk. That’s all great, but it’s not always possible — what about the hectic days when you can’t afford to take a break every hour?
Staying active at a desk job isn’t impossible. It’s actually a huge trend right now, and numerous devices and wacky gadgets are pouring into the market to help office folk stay in shape without even leaving the desk.
We put together a list of the best-reviewed workout machines, exercises chairs, and hydration reminders that help you stay fit while still getting shit done.
Under desk elliptical
Some days, you’re literally just too busy to leave your desk. There’s got to be a way to keep your legs busy without constantly getting up, right? This under desk elliptical is an Amazon’s Choice product and has your restless legs covered. Once you get past the immediate shock of how extra this machine is, it’s actually pretty cool — with eight levels of resistance, Bluetooth and Fitbit capabilities, and a connected app to track your progress and set exercise goals.
The elliptical regularly goes for $379, but is frequently on sale for $349 — check it out here.
Under desk exercise bike
More of a biking fan than an elliptical user? There’s an under desk machine for that, too. The DeskCycle is another highly rated Amazon’s Choice product that lets you pedal in place. Patented magnetic resistance in the pedals is said to operate smoothly and quietly to allow you to focus on your work and not annoy coworkers. The machine’s display shows time, distance, and calories burned, along with eight calibrated resistance settings, depending on how much of a challenge you want.
More than 80% of customers were obsessed enough to rate it five stars, and some have even documented their weight loss solely from their at-work pedaling. The DeskCycle is regularly priced at $199, but is frequently on sale for $159. Get your new obsession here.
Activ5 Personal Strength and Fitness Device
Don’t have time for the gym after work? Activ5 is a tiny but mighty personal strength training device that let you squeeze in workouts throughout the day. This Amazon’s Choice product promotes isometric-based movements that can be done in 5-minute spurts while sitting down. Isometric exercises are done in a static position with simple techniques that can help build muscle, increase stamina, and decrease blood pressure and body fat. Activ5’s iOS and Android friendly coaching app features more than 100 low impact workouts and games. This sounds like way less pressure than machines at the gym.
Get Activ5 on Amazon for just $119.99, or snag the deluxe version for $159.99, complete with accessories like an exercise mat and water bottle.
FlexiSpot Standing Desk
Need to stretch your legs? The FlexiSpot Standing Desk lets you work while standing and keeping your back straight. This Amazon’s Choice workstation has adjustable legs with 12 height levels that can fold for when you’re sitting, and then rise to bring your computer to eye level when you’re standing. There’s even a pullout keyboard tray for desktops.
Standing desks allow you to be in an upright position, strengthening your bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments by straining them — but in a good way. Being upright also betters posture, pumps more blood to the heart, increases airflow to the lungs, and burns more calories than you would sitting down. Sit/stand desks can also help with arthritis, as the regular movement prevents joints from getting stiff and can minimize joint pain overall.
Get your own FlexiSpot in one of four colors for $329.99 here.
Standing Desk Mat
If you’re going to be standing for a good part of your work day, you’d probably rather stand on something more comfortable than the hard floor. The TerraMat Anti-Fatigue Standing Desk Mat is like a massage table for your feet and was a previously successful Kickstarter campaign. Raised areas, different textures, and a thick, cushion-y material allow you to massage your feet, stretch hip flexors and calves, or work on your balance — all while still doing work. This constant movement helps to release tension in the lower body, burn more calories more than sitting or standing still, and just makes standing way more bearable.
The TerraMat Lite has received five stars from 77% of customers on Amazon and is only $55.99: an impressively low price compared to competitors. Get yours here.
Chair Balance Disk
You can squeeze in a workout just by sitting, too. The Gaiam Balance Disk is a squishy seat topper than turns any chair into an active one by adding some instability. Because you won’t be sitting flat, your core will tighten and your posture will un-slump in order to balance and sit comfortably. The disc’s firmness can also be controlled depending on how challenging or comfortable you’d like it to be, and customers mention that they’ve felt serious improvements in back pain, posture, and energy levels since getting theirs.
It’s basically all of the benefits of those giant yoga balls, but more portable and less obnoxious. Get yours for $21.98 here.
Fitbit Activity Trackers
Activity trackers are clutch for keeping up with good health habits. If you’re planning on making at-work exercise a regular thing, a fitness tracker will be key for keeping track of progress and reminding you to get moving after a period of sitting still.
Fitbit is leading the pack in user-friendly trackers right now, with numerous models and features that range from beginner to
maniac advanced. Two of the best-selling models are the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Fitbit Flex; both include reminders to move, have step and calorie counting, and sleep tracking. The Charge 2 is also equipped with heart rate monitoring.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is priced at $148.90 and the Fitbit Flex is priced at $59.95. There are tons of fitness trackers out there with lots of different features, so choosing one right away might be difficult. To see our full guide on which fitness tracker is best for you, go here.
Ulla Smart Hydration Reminder
Hydration is not just a Twitter trend. Not only is water important for clear skin, but is also crucial when it comes to staying in shape and losing weight. How? Drinking water helps increase the number of calories that you burn, even when you’re just sitting there. This is called resting energy expenditure, and it increases significantly in as little as 10 minutes after drinking water.
Make sure you’re slugging enough H20 with The Ulla Smart Hydration Reminder. This little sensor can attach to any water bottle, glass, or cup, and blinks to alert you to sip regularly — and we all know how easy it is to lose track of time. While customers in the reviews have noted you might want to buy velcro tabs to help it stay on, many say that their Ulla Reminder has literally trained them to drink regularly and keep hydration a priority. It doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to sync with your phone, but is a simple, inexpensive way to make sure you’re on top of your water game.
Choose from one of six colors and get yours for $25 here.
Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle
Speaking of blinking alerts, the Hidrate Spark 2.0 is a smart water bottle with a sensor that glows red as a reminder to drink. A water bottle dedicated to hydration reminders is ideal for those hectic work days full of meetings and errands. Because when your mind is in a million different places, it’s easy to forget to chug water regularly. The Hidrate Spark tracks your water intake, syncs with iOS and Android phones via Bluetooth, and is compatible with Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other activity trackers.
Choose from one of four colors and get your own Hidrate Spark for $54.95 here.
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