Usually, we think of physical activity and physically demanding jobs as being tiring, but what is even more tiring are sedentary jobs. For decades, physical activity in the workplace has declined, and office jobs commonly keep office workers sedentary for hours at a time. We now know that our long-term physical and cognitive health is closely tied to physical activity.
Less physical activity leaves us lethargic, especially when we go for hours without walking, stretching, or otherwise activating our many muscle groups. Worse, office jobs that keep us sitting for hours at a time are associated with increased risk of multiple health problems – such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease – and even death.
An Overview Of The Best Desk Exercise Equipment
- Rebel Treadmill 1000 – Under Desk Treadmill
- UNICOO – Standing Desk
- Standing Desk X-Elite Pro – Standing Desk Converter
- CUBEFIT TerraMat Lite – Anti-Fatigue Standing Desk Mat
- Gaiam Balance Disc Wobble Cushion – Balance Disc
- Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair – Balance Ball Chair
- Wobble Board for Under Desk Exercise – Balance Board for Standing Desk
- Noonchi – Workout Attachment For Office Chair
- Amazonbasics neoprene dumbbell set – Neoprene Dumbbells
- MummyFit Grip Strengthener – Adjustable Hand Exerciser
- Funky Egg Grippers Set 4 Piece – Hand Grip Strength Trainer, Stress Balls
- The Friendly Swede Hand Grip – Isometric Exercise Trainer
- Whatafit Resistance Bands Set – Resistance Band
- Nordic Lifting – Adjustable Ankle/Wrist Weights
- Fitbit Ionic – Fitness Tracker Watch
- DeskCycle Under Desk Exercise Bike – Mini Exercise Bike
- Cubii Jr: Desk Elliptical – Under-Desk Mini Elliptical
- Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster – Mini Stepper
Having in-office exercise equipment can give us office workers an opportunity to improve our long-term health and daily energy levels, often without having to take a break from work. Below, I provide my recommendations for exercise equipment that will be ideal for a variety of office environments.
My recommendations take into account that we often have limited space, usually want to be discreet and reasonably quiet, and might need to continue doing our otherwise sedentary work even while using the equipment. These recommendations are often useful for other small spaces, such as shared living arrangements, home offices, and smaller apartments.
Best Sitting Exercise Equipment
Gaiam Balance Disc
Stability exercises that strengthen the core are important, but you can also engage in strength training in the office. Strength training can help you preserve muscle mass, maintain bone density, and reduce symptoms of arthritis. It might also make you feel more alert and improve your thinking and learning skills.
You can engage in strength training without any equipment by squatting and doing push-ups. The equipment below makes it easier to target certain muscle groups, all while sitting at your desk.
I recommend Gaiam Balance Disc Wobble Cushion (Gaiam.com)
Balance discs, also called stability discs, are inflatable cushions that keep you just a little off balance when sitting or standing on them, forcing you to subtly use your muscles to stay still and balanced. They can be used to activate your core while sitting in your normal office chair, making them a great option for discreet use at your desk.
Balance discs can also be a part of advanced balance training, such as balancing on one foot on a balance disc (full disclosure: I haven’t mastered that level of balance yet).
My favorite balance disc is the wobble cushion, which can be inflated and deflated using a hand pump. You can personalize the firmness of your wobble cushion by how much you inflate it. The more inflated it is, the more challenging the cushion is to balance on (whether seated or standing).
Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair
I recommend Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair (Gaiam.com)
Balance balls, also called exercise balls, are heavy-duty, elastic, air-filled balls that are often sold with diameters ranging from 45 centimeters (18 inches) to 65 centimeters (26 inches). Balance balls can achieve the same results as balance discs while seated but can also be used for a fun variety of exercises like wall squats and roll-outs.
Maybe some people can stand on balance balls like they can stand on balance discs, but I think that requires being a Jedi… not that I have tried.
I prefer using my balance ball so I don’t have to get on the floor to do abdominal crunches.
Balance balls became such a popular option as an office chair replacement that you can now buy balance ball chairs. These are balance balls that come with a structured base that provides a chair back as well as casters, giving you full office chair functionality.
Try rolling across your cubicle on a balance ball without the chair base and you’ll appreciate why that base is so useful. Of course, the balance ball can still be removed from this base to do the exercises I mentioned above.
Noonchi Office Chair Workout
I recommend Noonchi (Amazon)
You’re stuck in an office all day and the last thing you want to do when you get off from work is go to a packed gym. The Noonchi Office chair workout attaches directly to your office chair so you’re able to get a good pump while sitting at your desk.
Best Stand-Up Desk
Unicoo – Adjustable Height Standing Desk
I recommend UNICOO (Amazon)
It only makes sense to use an under-desk treadmill with a standing desk that can not be used while sitting. A crank adjustable height standing desk.
This is a great desk workout equipment to have because a standing desk encourages greater movement throughout your day while helping optimize your cognition, improve focus, enhance collaboration, reduce back and neck pain, increase productivity and boost calorie burn.
Best Stand-Up Desk Converter
Stand Steady X-Elite Pro
I recommend Standing Desk X-Elite Pro (Amazon)
Easy to stand/sit adjustable standing desk converter. Big enough surface to place your computer on it and turn it into your office workstation. 7 to 16 inches of adjustable height providing maximum comfort. The surface is 28 inches by 20 inches. Comes fully assembled. Award-winning modern design.
Can handle up to 20 pounds of weight. A healthy alternative to sitting all day. Designed for ergonomic comfort. Can switch between standing and sitting in only 3 seconds. Avoid back pains from sitting all day. Can hold up to two computer screen monitors at once. This is considered one of the best standing desks available on the market.
- Reduces Back Pain
- Improves Mood & Energy
- Lower Risk of Weight Gain (Standing Instead of Sitting = Less Sedentary Lifestyle)
- Always Have the Option to Sit or Stand
- Adjustable Height No Matter Where You Setup Your Office
Best Stand-Up Desk Exercise Equipment
CubeFit TerraMat – Standing Desk Mat For Home Office
I recommend CUBEFIT TerraMat Lite (Amazon)
Perfect for smaller workstations. Whether you’re sitting or standing all day at your home or in the office this mat is perfect for a multitude of reasons. Prevents fatigue and aching feet & legs so you can move while standing to burn more calories. Thicker mat than its competitors. It comes in three different colors. Durable and comfortable high-quality material for long-lasting use and product lifespan. Easy to transfer from standing to sitting.
Keep it under your desk or move it out from underneath and stand for more comfort at the office.
If you’re ever tired from standing or sitting all day at the office you can keep one of these at home or at work with you. It will help relieve pressure from your feet and give you something comfortable to rest your feet on. Has a balance bar to do calf raises or work on your balance. It comes with massage mounds to give the soles of your feet and arches a nice massage. Equipped with a power wedge so you can stretch your calves while answering emails.
- Stretch Your Calves
- Work on Balance
- Massage Your Feet
- Stretch Your Hip Flexors
- Stand Longer & Feel More Energized
FluidStance The Plane Standing Desk Balance Board
I recommend Wobble Board for Under Desk Exercise by FluidStance (Amazon)
A workstation that promotes good desk posture, productivity, and efficiency is important.
FluidStance standing desk accessory is the perfect companion for a standing computer workstation.
People who work on balance boards say they are happier, more comfortable, and more productive at work. These standing desk balancing boards can help keep you active and more comfortable in the workplace.
Stability exercise, or balance training, is a great way to strengthen your core and stabilize muscles. Since stability exercises strengthen the muscles that support joints, these exercises can prevent injury and even reduce arthritis and back pain.
Each of the exercises above is great for balance training, but are not especially discreet in the office, and do not allow you to stay seated while exercising. Balance discs and balance ball chairs are great options to perform similarly useful stability exercises but discreetly and while seated.
Rebel Treadmill 1000 Under Desk Treadmill
I recommend Rebel Treadmill 1000 Under Desk Treadmill (Amazon)
So this office workout equipment is an under-desk treadmill. Under-desk treadmills is a miniature form of a common treadmill exercise machine, with smaller dimensions and no handlebars. It lets you take full steps while walking at your desk, and is, therefore, less limiting in the range of motion it offers than the other machines.
These treadmills are usually made with office environments in mind, so this under-desk exercise equipment is not loud and is not intended for running or even fast walking. You can expect to enjoy a leisurely stroll at your desk with one of these.
Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster
I recommend Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster (Amazon)
Like mini exercise bikes, mini steppers are basically normal stair machines at the gym with everything extraneous removed and the range of motion limited. Unlike the mini exercise bike, you can use the mini stepper while standing as well as while sitting.
Most also come with attached resistance bands, allowing you to get a full-body workout with the bands, or just a lower-body workout if you decline to use the bands.
Small Exercise Equipment For Office
Amazon Basics Neoprene Workout Dumbbell
I recommend Amazonbasics neoprene dumbbell set (Amazon)
Small, easy to use & convenient set of dumbbells ranging for a combined total weight of 20, 32, 48, or 60lbs. Neoprene coating guarantees a secure hold. Printed weight on the side and color-coded for quick and easy identification. Hexagonal shaped to prevent dumbbells from rolling away. Ideal for fitness classes and/or at-home workout routines. Comes backed by AmazonBasic’s limited one-year warranty.
Add resistance training to any workout so you can increase performance, build and tone muscles, burn calories, increase your energy levels, protect your bone health, and much much more. This is ideal for beginners as well as fitness fanatics alike.
Adjustable Ankle/Wrist Weights
I recommend Nordic Lifting (Amazon)
Nordic Lifting ankle & wrist weights come in a one-size-fits-all. Great for walking around the office, doing light exercises, jogging, or intense training. They come in a variety of different weights to choose from (1, 2, 3, & 5 pounds). Reinforced stitching and industrial strength velcro strap. Comes with reflective trim making late-night runs both safer and more challenging. Convenient carry bag included for easy storage and transportation.
Comfortable, durable, fully adjustable, and safe for both kids and adults, this is a must-have for anyone that does home workouts, walking, jogging, cross-training, aerobics, core training, works out at the gym, or does any other type of fitness training. They’re going to add gravitational resistance to improve muscle development and increase your core strength. This set of ankle & wrist weights will be great for anyone, whether you’re a beginner or you’re a more advanced fitness trainer.
Adjustable Hand Exerciser
I recommend MummyFit Grip Strengthener (Amazon)
Completely silent when using it so you can do your workouts anywhere. Indestructible, made from entirely thermoplastic and nylon and steel. It comes with a lifetime warranty. Safe to use. It offers 55 – 154 pounds of adjustable resistance.
Perfect for anyone looking to strengthen their grip and achieve “the death grip”. Whether you’re using it for jiu-jitsu grip strengthening, helping your grip for holding onto sports equipment (such as racquets or bats), or maybe you just want to increase your hand, wrist, and/or forearm strength, this is hands down the best product available. Don’t worry about having to buy multiple grip strengtheners because this one has everything you need.
Hand Grip Strength Trainer, Stress Balls
I recommend Funky Egg Grippers Set 4 Piece (Amazon)
Hand exercises might be useful to prevent and reduce arthritis pain in the hands. Harvard Medical School recommends five simple exercises to increase the range of motion in your hands that do not require any equipment. Some people might want to use a hand exercise ball – a soft, squeezable, durable ball of dough – to increase hand strength as well.
The therapist’s Choice offers a package with three hand exercise balls, each with a different level of resistance.
If you are thinking that you might want these hand exercise balls to reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel, it might be a better idea to talk to a doctor first. Hand exercises might actually aggravate carpal tunnel symptoms, so don’t take matters into your own hands (pardon my pun). Get personalized medical advice if you think you might be suffering symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Isometric Exercise Trainer
I recommend Activ5 Isometric (Amazon)
If you want to take your isometric exercises to the next level (remember, those are the ones where you activate muscles without moving hardly at all), you can use an isometric exercise trainer like the Activ5.
The Activ5 is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and communicates with the free Activ5 coaching app to guide your workout and measure the amount of pressure you are applying so that you know exactly how much of a workout you are getting.
This is a great option for fitness tracking, guidance, and motivation.
Whatafit Resistance Bands Set
I recommend Whatafit Resistance Bands Set (Amazon)
Resistance bands, also called resistance tubing, are long, elastic, nearly indestructible bands that can provide resistance when stretched. They can be used for “isometric” exercises (where muscles are activated but the movement is almost imperceptible) and “isotonic” exercises (where muscles are activated to cause movement, such as when lifting weights).
These are easy to store in small spaces and great ways to exercise arms, legs, and hips.
Fitness Tracker Watch
I recommend Fitbit Ionic (Amazon)
Fitbit Ionic has step-by-step coaching for dynamic personalized workouts. Stores up to 300+ songs, plus you can download your favorite playlists from Pandora. It Syncs with most phones and computers. It comes with both small and large size bands. Tracks distance, pace, and routes as well as continuous heart rate tracking. Works in a temperature range of -4°F to 113°F. Keeps track of runs, rides, swims, workouts, all-day activities, and sleep with a 4+ day battery life.
Get personalized workouts wherever you are. Both comfortable and durable. Great for any fitness enthusiast that wants to keep track of their fitness journey. Built-in GPS for easy tracking. Water-resistant up to 50m. Operates up to an altitude of 30,000 feet. Can listen to your favorite music while getting personalized on-screen coaching.
Best under-desk workout equipment
Aerobic exercises are among the most energizing exercises you can employ in the office. Many workplaces now encourage walking meetings, which are a great way to get aerobic exercise into the workday. However, you might want a way to get that kind of exercise while still working at your desk.
DeskCycle Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser
I recommend DeskCycle Under Desk Exercise Bike and Pedal Exerciser (Amazon)
Mini exercise bikes are like standard stationary bikes, but with everything lobbed off except the pedaling mechanism, which itself is a bit smaller than on a full-sized stationary bike.
What you are left with is a compact machine you can fit under your desk and pedal while you sit. It requires no engagement by your upper body, so it’s easy to perform all normal desk duties (such as typing, writing, and engaging in meetings) while using the minibike.
These machines make hardly any noise yet allow you to keep your legs moving all day if you like. Mini exercise bikes like the DeskCycle also have adjustable resistance and let you see how far you have (virtually) cycled.
Cubii JR1 – Under Desk Elliptical
I recommend Cubii Jr: Desk Elliptical w/Built-in Display Monitor (Amazon)
Like the mini stepper, the mini elliptical allows you to sit and use the elliptical under the desk, or stand and use it with or without attached resistance bands. The mini elliptical is often heavier than the mini stepper but offers a wider range of motion that feels more natural when using it under the desk.
I also find that the mini elliptical is easier to use under a desk than the mini stepper is because I can orient the mini elliptical backward to achieve an ideal angle for my legs.
However, both will make your knees come up several inches higher than usual, so if you already have limited leg space under the desk, these might not be the best options. If you have a standing desk, these are great alternatives to standing in a stationary position.
As you can see, you have a lot of options for getting more activity into your workday at the office or in other smaller spaces. I find that having the right equipment helps to keep me motivated and interested in office-based workouts, and I hope these suggestions help you, too.