The best workout gear for the office
Get buff while you do stuff.
Sitting at your desk all day may be killing you. Studies like these are why you’ve seen more standing desks in your office cubicles, more coworkers sitting on inflatable balls, and more midday yoga classes hosted by corporate.
I only recently started at PopSci full time, so sitting at my desk for hours is still fairly new to me; I’d previously been used to more active days. The idea that it could be bad for my long-term health definitely concerns me, though it’s difficult to have a full and productive work day and make time to fit in a daily exercise routine.
So I decided it’d be fun—and, you know, beneficial to my wellbeing—to look into ways to soup up my desk area so I felt more compelled to move throughout the day. Some of these items are more discreet than others, but if you don’t mind your immediate coworkers knowing that you’re trying to get in shape, these options will do your body right.
Sitting on a ball chair is not going to make a couch potato fit, but it does force you to engage your abdominal muscles, meaning better posture. Without having a chair back to support your upper body, you become more aware of your posture, which encourages you to, well, not slump over like you’re totally boneless.
Sold? The Gaiam classic yoga ball chair can hold up to 300 pounds. Depending on how inflated the ball is, the chair can reach up to 25 inches tall and comes with a ball pump, a metal bar to keep the ball in place, and large wheels which lock in the back preventing the chair from sliding.
The Cubii smart elliptical fits under your desk, tracks your workout progress on your smartphone over Bluetooth, and is easy to set up—just screw the footplates onto the machine. The machine comes with two wheel stoppers that prevent your office chair from sliding. If you don’t mind getting a little sweaty in the office—as I did—I recommend giving it a shot. There are eight resistance levels and challenges in the app designed to build up your strength and endurance.
The major benefit of this tool is that it works multiple muscle groups at once. Standing or sitting on the balance ball engages your core, but because the bottom of the ball is flat, this stability allows you to do more activities that work other muscles groups while still keeping your core engaged. The 13-pound Bosu Balance Trainer comes with an air pump and can hold up to 300 pounds. It’s small enough that you can tuck it under your desk and comes in a ton of colors.
If you are like most office workers, you are probably glued to your keyboard all day long. These therapy balls allow you to reposition your fingers every once in a while and work out finger muscle groups that otherwise wouldn’t be used. This set of three rubber egg-shaped therapy stress balls can be used to strengthen your hands, forearms, and fingers. The textured rubber helps you keep a firm grip on it and each color has a different resistance level.
This is similar to the idea of the egg-shaped therapy balls, but it also incorporates your wrist a little more, and is a little more specialized for each finger so you can get at those fine muscle groups. Plus, it’s small enough to sit right next to your keyboard for easy flexing. This device comes with a full exercise program. Each finger feels nine pounds of pressure when the device is squeezed.
Devices like these provide a serious core and upper-body workout, reaching muscles in your chest, abs, and lower back. This abdominal and core roller wheel has sweat-absorbing grips. The slip-resistant wheel—just over 7 inches in diameter—has a sturdy metal axel to ensure that the wheels don’t get wobbly.
Resistance bands might be cheap and low on the tech scale, but studies have shown that these elastic devices work both smaller and larger muscle groups, in certain cases, just as effectively as heavy weights. Plus, resistance bands might be the easiest way to work out in the office without your coworkers knowing. This set comes with five 12-inch-by-2-inch latex bands with varying resistance levels, a bag to carry them, and a workout booklet for advice and exercise instructions.