What if you could improve your health while at work? There are 8 hours of work every day you could be using to become healthier.
An office can be used for low intensity cardio or high repetition workouts. There are a lot of limitations on equipment and exercise in an office, however you can do a few things. An under desk elliptical machine, resistance bands and yoga mat can be used without disturbing your coworkers or boss.
How can you do this exactly and which equipment is the best? Keep reading to find out.
What type of exercise can you do at work?
Let’s assume you’re in some kind of corporate or other professional office with a desk, computer and a manager. Of course if you’ve got a home office you can do anything you want but this post might still be useful.
In an office environment there isn’t that much you can get away with before people start complaining. There are plenty of things that don’t fly in the average office;
- Excessive noise either from equipment or person using it
- Big equipment
- “scary” looking equipment
- Heavy breathing for an extended period of time
Ok, so that doesn’t leave too many options for exercise in your office. Heavy lifting and high intensity cardio is probably not going to be a good idea. So what can you do?
- Low intensity steady state cardio
- High rep/low weight resistance training
Are those forms of exercise useful?
If you’re used to doing very intensive HIIT workouts or often lift very heavy weights, you might be wondering if those forms of working out are useful at all.
Well, yes they can be. While it’s hard to get very high intensity into your workouts with the limitations named above, it doesn’t mean they are completely useless.
Low intensity cardio. While high intensity cardio gets all the attention lately, that doesn’t mean there are no benefits to low intensity cardio;
- Fat burning
- Improved insulin resistance
- Better balance for older people
- Improved cardiovascular health
Actually many of those benefits are the same as with high intensity cardio but it just takes longer. And since you’re at work, you’ve got plenty of time. Low intensity cardio is also easier to do since it’s not as draining mentally as a HIIT workout can be.
Stretching. You probably don’t have to be convinced about the benefits of stretching. Sitting is the new smoking is a phrase sometimes heard from the mouths of physical therapists and the like. And while I’m not quite sure it’s the same thing, it’s certain that sitting the whole day without moving isn’t good for you.
It’s especially bad for your posture. Some muscles get too tight, some get too loose and it’s just very difficult to sit with good posture the whole day. There is a reason why lower back problems are so incredibly common.
While stretching doesn’t help you with muscles that are getting too weak, it sure does help with the ones that are too tight. A good stretching routine a couple of times a day can prevent a lot of problems in the long run.
High repetitions/low weight. While it has fallen out of favor a little over the last few years, there still is a place for the high repetitions workout. High rep work is better for isolating muscles. It can also be used for ‘active recovery’ which means that you force more blood and with it more nutrients to repair the muscles. Besides that, high repetition workouts can work very well for hypertrophy for many people.
You can also use this method to target smaller muscles that you don’t often get during your normal workouts. Muscles like the shoulder rotator cuff or the brachialis. These muscles are usually not specifically trained during a workout. Why not take advantage of your downtime at work by exercising these?
What do you need to turn your cubicle into a gym?
So what kind of equipment that ticks all the boxes above and can be used for the types of workout named? Let’s take a look;
1. Under desk elliptical
One of the best options for stealthy low intensity cardio. It’s a machine with two pedals that look a lot like the pedals of an elliptical machine. Since the flywheel can’t be as big as on a ‘real’ elliptical machine, the stride isn’t as big. That’s actually not a bad thing since you’re sitting and can’t move your legs all that far.
This type of machine easily fits under your desk and can give you a great low intensity cardio workout. For use in an office, the most important thing is if it’s quiet.
Recommended Under Desk Elliptical
The Cubii Pro is the best under desk elliptical machine you can get. It’s not cheap but it’s optimized for seated use under low desks. It’s very quiet and the noise it produces is just a hum.
The Cubii also comes with bluetooth connectivity so you can keep track of your workouts on your phone.
2. Under desk bike
The under desk bike is pretty similar to the under desk elliptical although they’re slightly different. Instead of the pedals of an elliptical machine you’ve got bike pedals and mechanism. This results in slightly bigger leg movements. Where with the under desk elliptical machines the stride is quite small, the under desk bike models have a bit more movement.
Which one is better depends on how much space you’ve go under your desk and how high/low you want your workout intensity want to be. Bigger movements mean more muscles used and a bigger impact on your heart rate. For some people that’s good, for others not. Especially if you’re in an office that has to be extra quiet, more breathing might not be welcome.
Recommended Under Desk Bike
A cheaper option than the one named above. Designed to be used under a low desk so it’ll be suitable for most office desks.
Adjustable resistance, quiet and smooth pedal motion.
3. Treadmill desk
This is pushing the stealthy part a little bit but it’s certainly effective. A treadmill with a desk built in. If sitting is bad, a standing desk is better, a treadmill desk is even better. Humans are built more to move and walk than to sit so it makes a lot of sense.
They are quite expensive however and might take up more space than you’ve got in your office. On top of that many offices aren’t really accepting of you brining your own furniture, let alone something like a treadmill desk.
Treadmill desks usually don’t come with a desk built in. There are treadmills that don’t have the upper part of a normal treadmill so it’s only the belt part. There is a kind of remote you can put on your desk so you can easily control the speed.
Having a good conversation with your boss and coworkers is quite important before you show up with something like this.
4. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are one of the best strength training tools period. They are available in different resistance ratings, cheap, small and simple to use. You can store a bunch of resistance bands in a small box or drawers. They are completely quiet and also effective.
Resistance bands are great tools for strengthening those muscles that are getting weak from sitting all day. Or maybe those muscles you often forget during other workouts.
Resistance bands can be used to exercise almost every muscle as long as you know how. With a chair and maybe the leg of a heavy table, you can connect the resistance bands to plenty of points to be able to do everything you want. Any office will come with those two pieces of furniture.
Recommended Resistance Bands
Looking for a set of resistance bands to get you started? Check out RubberBanditz.com. They have a very wide variety of high quality bands and accessories from light to very heavy. Besides free shipping above $60 they also provide a ton of information for beginners to choose the right bands and how to get started.
Check out RubberBanditz.com
5. Small dumbbells
If resistance bands are not your thing, small dumbbells could work for you. Most offices probably wouldn’t really appreciate it if you brought in a full set of heavy dumbbells. But some cute, small polyurethane covered ones might be fine. Of course those aren’t going to be heavy but as said, you don’t necessarily need those.
Those small dumbbells can start feeling pretty heavy if you lift them often and slowly. Sure, they won’t be suitably heavy for every exercise but there are quite a few that don’t require heavy weight.
Dumbbells are quiet as long as you don’t drop them on the floor so you won’t receive many complaints about that.
Those little colorful dumbbells always start leading their own lives and traveling all over your desk and room. This set comes with three different weight pairs and a small rack so you can easily keep them tidy and in the same place.
They’re cheap and look friendly enough for in your office.
6. Yoga mat
Maybe the floor of your office gets cleaned every day and you can eat from it without problems. Even then a yoga or exercise mat makes things much more comfortable. There are a ton of bodyweight exercises you can easily do in your office as long as you can lay down on the floor.
You can get in shape with purely bodyweight exercises so it can be very effective. A yoga mat is easily put away, cheap and simple so it’s a very office friendly piece of equipment. Just roll it out for 15 minutes when necessary and put it away again.
Recommended Yoga Mat
Simple, good, cheap and available in different colors.
There is no need to spend a ton of money on a simple yoga mat. This BalanceFrom mat is great value for money and at least you don’t have to be afraid someone is going to “borrow” it.
7. Grip trainer
A great tool to use when you’re just thinking about a problem is a grip trainer. Usually when you are on the phone or are thinking how to fix something, you start fidgeting. Replace your fidgeting with something else and over time you’ll see the results.
A grip trainer is one of the best replacements for fidgeting with a pen or something else. Put it on your desk where it’s easy to grab and you won’t even notice grabbing it. Just try to remember to switch hands sometimes so you don’t end up with on hand much stronger than the other.
Recommended Grip Trainer
IronMinds Captains Of Crush. With a name like that you can’t go wrong. And thousands of people on Amazon tend to agree.
It’s simple and available in different resistances so you can get one that’s perfect for you. And when you don’t use it, it’s a great paper weight!
It’s easy to be very sedentary in an office job and start gaining weight slowly over time. A fitbit and calorie tracker can prevent a lot of this problem. Even if you do some exercise during work, life gets in the way sometimes. Wearing something on your wrist reminds you of your goals. Every time you look at your wrist you’ll be reminded to track your calorie intake or to go for another workout session.
FitBit Charge 3
There are a ton of FitBit and alternatives available now. The functionality is slightly different and they all look a bit different.
The Charge 3 is a great, clean looking, watch with great functionality. The look is personal preference of course.
Why exercise at work?
Why would you go through all the effort of buying equipment, bringing it to work and using it there? There are a few good reasons for this.
- At work you have 8 hours a day (or more) that can be used more efficiently.
- Sitting isn’t good for you. Even getting some simple movement and/or exercise is a big improvement.
- Improve your health why working.
- Doing regular exercise is good for your brain, which means better results at work.
What if my boss/coworker complains?
You might always run into some issues if you do some things in the workplace that aren’t too common. Maybe some people will start complaining when you try to do/use some of the things named above. So what can you do?
In some offices there are very strict rules and ‘difficult’ people, there’s not much you can do about that. There are some things you can say to convince your boss or coworkers to let you do your thing.
- You’ve picked all the things that are as quiet as possible so you won’t interrupt anyone.
- Getting exercise means you’ll be sick less which is good for your boss and your coworkers.
- Being sick less is also good for the company.
- Getting your blood flowing is good for your brain which means you can do your job better
- You can negotiate with your coworkers which time of the day is best for everyone.
In the end it depends on the office environment you’re in and how well you can convince your boss and coworkers.