You’ve read the articles, or have at least heard that working out regularly isn’t enough to counteract all of that sitting you do at the office, right? Working a desk job means more time spent indoors, less time spent moving, and too much time spent in a hunched-over typing position that contributes to a myriad of health issues, not to mention breathing in that stale office air that can make you ill.
A 2010 study found sedentary workers who exercised were at just as high risk for health issues as those who didn’t exercise regularly. For the desk worker, what’s even more important than intermittent exercise is regular movement, which prevents muscle breakdown. The study showed that those who sat for over four hours a day had a 46 percent increase in deaths as compared to those who sat for less than two hours. Other research found that sitting for more than half the day, approximately, doubles the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Lack of movement slows the metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy which in turn promotes fat accumulation, obesity and the problems that often come with it, like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Of course, quitting your job and spending your days being more active is probably not a realistic solution, but there are a number of great gadgets that can help get you moving more often, help better your posture when you have to sit, and improve the office environment to make it healthier too.
1. Darma Seat Cushion
The Darma Seat Cushion means no more slouching in front of your computer day after day. Originally launched on Kickstarter, it’s now available on Amazon and has so far garnered rave reviews. It fits directly onto your desk chair, encouraging better posture when sitting thanks to tiny sensors that record the body’s micro movements. It also tracks heart rate, respiration and posture. All of this information is then sent to a companion app on your smartphone. The app can then track your stress level, sitting time, and posture, and send you an alert now and again to let you know when it’s time to stand, stretch or take a break. It also alerts users when they’ve slipped into a poor position, and it explains how to correct it.
Without good posture, many of the daily tasks performed during the workday can lead to chronic health problems, particularly when you have to sit at your desk for long periods performing repetitive actions like typing on a keyboard. Poor posture like slouching can produce immediate effects too, like joint and muscle pain, as well as fatigue, and sometimes even a loss of feeling in limbs.
After using the Darma regularly, even for just a day or two, you’re likely to experience less stiffness, and have more energy when you go home in the evening. An added bonus is that as it monitors your stress level and heart rate, you’re likely to become more conscious about making time to take deep breaths to center yourself, which helps you to think clearer and be more relaxed – in turn, improving the quality of your work.
Ready to try the Darma Seat Cushion? Read more about it and order yours here.
2. Cubii Mini-Eliptical
To really get you moving while you get work done at the same time, you might want to invest in this miniature elliptical known as the Cubii Mini Elliptical, an under-desk exerciser that’s available on Amazon. It makes an excellent solution that’s low impact so you can still focus on your responsibilities, including making phone calls without being out of breath, while keeping you moving so that your blood is flowing. Any type of movement can help when you’re sitting, plus improved circulation has been shown to boost creativity.
According to the Scientific American, research has shown that “when we exercise, blood pressure and blood flow increase everywhere in the body, including the brain. More blood means more energy and oxygen, which makes our brain perform better.”
Research out of Penn State College of Medicine found that using a compact elliptical device while sitting at a desk could result in weight loss of a little over five pounds a year, or at least prevent the one to two pounds that the average adult gains each year.
Learn more about the Cubii Mini Elliptical here.
3. Dumbbell alarm
While this helpful gadget may not be appropriate if your desk job means that you’re just feet, or even inches, away from your co-workers, if you happen to be lucky enough to have your own office or work in a place where noise won’t disturb others, the dumbbell alarm may be ideal. It let’s you know when it’s time to get up and get moving. You can set it for normal alarm mode, where a single curl will silence it, or exercise mode, where it will require you to complete a set number of reps. As it weighs just over a pound, it’s not exactly for power-lifters, but it still serves as an excellent reminder to take breaks occasionally and get in some physical activity.
4. Tabletop air purifier
Investing in an air purifier is an investment in your health, as the right air filter can help lessen or eliminate allergy symptoms and other respiratory issues. Because so much of the average person’s time is spent inside, especially when they work in an office, it only makes sense to take care of the air you breathe, which is where this tabletop air purifier comes in. In addition to addressing allergies, when airflow and ventilation is improved, you’re also less likely to catch that cold or other illness that’s going around, because the more stagnant the air is, the more likely diseases are spread. After just one sneeze or cough, some viruses can stay suspended in the air for hours, and after landing on a surface, they can live another 24 hours.
This is where the Honeywell HEPAClean Tabletop Air Purifier comes in. It manages to capture as much as 95% of airborne particles, so you don’t have to go into a panic when your co-worker insists on coming into the office with a cold. After all, who wants to spend that PTO time actually being sick?
5. Himalayan Salt Lamp
A Himalayan Salt Lamp is not only a great way to beautify your office environment, but in addition to providing a soothing glow, it can improve air quality by attracting pollutants and helping to neutralize the effects of electronics. The lamps are even said to help boost one’s energy level, focus and mood, with their soft orange hues noted as an especially soothing, relaxing color. They also emit some negative ions, which when reaching are bloodstream, are thought to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the “happy hormone,” known as serotonin, which can alleviate depression and relieve stress while making us feel more energetic.
If you’ve ever breathed in the air around a place like a magnificent waterfall, a tranquil mountain or waves lapping the seashore, you’ve probably noticed how fresh the air felt and how easy it was for you to breathe. That experience is not something that’s just in your head, but the result of negative ions. The forces of nature, through phenomenon like ocean waves, waterfalls, rain storms and the like, create negative ions which help neutralize and balance positive ions creating a number of positive effects on our health and well-being.
6. Tabletop Zen Garden
If you want your own personal escape from the never-ending stream of incessant noise, chaos and even your own thoughts that bombard your life at the office, this tabletop zen garden is a fabulous way to find inner peace when you have little in the way of space. One of the primary benefits of a mini zen garden like this is stress relief. By methodically arranging the stones and combing the sand, it will help your body begin to relax. Focusing on repetitive physical movements helps to quiet the mind, enabling you to experience the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or the future.
You can also use this zen garden to stimulate creativity, as placing it on your desk may even help you to find a new perspective or solve a problem plaguing you at work. Research has shown mindful meditation like this promotes more “divergent thinking,” an important type of thinking through which lots of new ideas are generated. When the brain is too busy dealing with stress, it’s unable to allocate resources to creative thinking.
7. Treadmill Desk
If you’ve got a home office, or a fairly large private office at work as well as a more casual workplace atmosphere, this LifeSpan Treadmill Desk is a great way to combat those health risks that are associated with long periods of sitting. This is basically a walking speed treadmill that’s integrated into a desk and is said to be “whisper quiet”. It allows you to work while keeping your body moving at the same time. Similar to a traditional treadmill, it also shows stats like time, distance traveled, speed and calories burned.
8. Standing Desk
Yet another option to keep you from sitting all day is the standing desk. A standing desk, also called a stand-up desk, is basically a desk that allows you to stand up comfortably while working. Many modern versions are adjustable, like this one, the FlexiSpot 35″ Wide Platform Height Adjustable Standing Desk Rise, which allows you to change the height of the desk to alternate between sitting and standing.
While exercise is the most effective way to burn calories quickly, simply switching to standing from sitting can also be beneficial. In fact, when compared to an afternoon of sedentary work, an equal amount of time spent standing has been scientifically shown to burn more than 170 additional calories, or almost 1000 extra calories burned every week just by standing at your desk each afternoon.
9. Natural light smart LED tilting-head desk lamp
If you don’t have good lighting in your work area, it can not only make it difficult to read the fine print, but it can result in vision problems, headaches, and generally make your job harder to do. This LED Desk Lamp comes to the rescue by providing a natural-looking light with four different modes that can be manually adjusted so that you can get the right light when you need it simply by choosing different modes for different types of tasks.
10. Hand fitness trainer
If you suffer from a repetitive-motion injury as a result of your job, this hand fitness trainer may be able to help. And, even if it doesn’t, you could always use it as a great accessory to any one of a number of Halloween costumes. It slips on like a glove, providing resistance when you open your hand. It strengthens extensor muscles in the hands, wrists and elbows, which is said to lessen symptoms related to conditions like carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and tendinitis.
11. Stability Ball
One very inexpensive alternative to your desk chair to improve health and fitness is a stability or fitness ball. It helps to improve balance while toning core muscles, even when sitting. It forces proper spine alignment as your body is required to balance on it in order to keep it stabilized. As the ideal spinal posture happens to be the easiest to balance with, it helps to decrease back pain and improve spinal health.
As sitting on the ball also causes you to change your position often in order to stay balanced, like when you need to turn to answer the phone or reach something tacked onto your bulletin board, which in turn, reduces damage caused by prolonged sitting. It also strengthens ab muscles and improves circulation. Plus, a stability ball can be used to perform wall squats and other exercises throughout the day.