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Under Desk Bicycle

Creating a Desk Gym

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series DIY Desks

Hey gang, what’s up? I hope you’ve all had a great week – it’s finally starting to get warm and sunny on a regular basis now, and I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to make me walk around with a permanent smile on my face. Maybe it’s just me, but after being cooped up all winter (or all week long in your office, which can sometimes be just as onerous), it can feel great to get outside, stretch muscles left long dormant, and get your blood and endorphins pumping. Of course, some folks may not be able to participate, at least not to the extent to which they might wish. The nine to five grind keeps most of us penned up in our cubicles or other workplace environment, making exercise and sun exposure difficult to fit into an everyday routine. But hey, this is a blog all about the marvel that is the standing desk, and as always, that means there’s a solution to be had! See, you can do plenty of exercise even as you get your regular work done – provided, of course, that you have the right equipment. The need for a standing desk is a given, but there are a few other gadgets you can use alongside them that will turn your standing desk based workstation into a mini-gym at a minimum of cost, effort, and space. To learn more, just keep reading!

Step Stools

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “A step stool? Is he serious?” Of course I’m serious! Think about it for a second – you’ve just made the switch to a standing desk after years of fast food and sedentary habits. Maybe you’re a little heavier than you ought to be. Perhaps you’re a bit out of shape in the cardio department, or it might be that your back or your knees (or both) are aching in strange new ways. You’re not going to be running any Iron Mans for a while, but a step stool can help you do a bit of step training while also allowing you to change positions once in a while. Plus, if you do need to have a bit of a sit-down now and again, you can use the stool as a ready-made foot rest. Not bad, eh?

LifeSpan DT3

LifeSpan DT3


Treadmills are a classic exercise machine – versatile, effective, and user-friendly, they’re a natural extension of the standing desk (especially the purpose-built ones!). If you’re beyond step stools but not yet up to anything too exotic or strenuous, a nice walk as you draft that inter-office email or send those invoices to a contractor in Hong Kong might be just the thing to get you up and moving. Of course, when you do feel ready for something a bit more challenging, many standing desk treadmills can operate on an incline and accelerate to a very tidy clip, allowing for simulated hill treks, jogging sessions, or even short sprints. At that point, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) becomes a possibility.

Under Desk Elliptical

Under Desk Elliptical

Elliptical Trainers

Need a low-impact exercise solution for your standing desk that’s small enough to stow out of sight when you’re done with it? An elliptical machine might be right down your alley. Designed as a cross between a treadmill and a stair climber, you can do all sorts of things with this machine, from simple step routines to all of the suggested treadmill-based workouts mentioned above. Better still, elliptical trainers are now available in positively pint-sized configurations, which makes them perfect for use as a discreet exercise tool that won’t adversely impact your workflow – or your knees.

Under Desk Bicycle

Under Desk Bicycle

Bicycle Trainers

Think back to when you were a kid. Did you have a bike? Sure you did! Remember how awesome it was, and how good it made you feel? The freedom, the fun, and whether you realized it or not, the fitness were what made that old two-wheeled steed so special. Bicycling has come back in a big way over the past decade or so, and thanks to a few enterprising folks in the corporate world, you can feel like a kid again while getting taut, toned, and Tour de France ready (hey, it could happen!), all without ever having to leave your standing desk! Once the province of gym rats and high-end athletes, indoor bike trainers are now available to the average consumer. You’ll obviously need access to a more laid-back office environment to make this work, so a tech start-up might be a better fit for such a tool than an accounting firm. With that said, a standing desk, a supervisor who knows enough to value a fit and happy staff, and an indoor bike trainer might just be the perfect ingredients for a recipe that yields a simultaneous boost in productivity and burnt pounds. Simply attach your bicycle’s rear wheel to a rack that holds it in place, hop on, and start pedaling! Best of all, when you’re done for the day, you’ve got ready-made transportation. Just unhook your bike from the trainer and ride it home.

Foam Roller

Foam Roller

Foam Rollers

The final standing desk exercise tool we’ll touch on here is the humble foam roller. Again, pro athletes have sworn by these things for ages as aids to recovery (they make awesome massage devices). Likewise, yoga enthusiasts like them for their flexibility enhancing qualities. Standing desk users, meanwhile, can get one heck of a core workout with these things. Even as the roller itself takes stress off of your feet – dedicated mats can also do this – you’ll be forced to balance atop it in order to remain upright. Short workouts – fifteen minutes every hour, give or take – can make a huge difference, to say nothing of day-long use! One note about day-to-day use: Get the extra-firm ones, as the less hardy versions will wear out in no time flat.

Closing Thoughts

Standing desks are awesome inventions all on their own, but coupled with one or more exercise aids like the ones listed above, you can kick your nine to five routine (and your metabolism) into high gear. All it takes is a little time, a little sweat, and maybe a copy of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ set to repeat. Thanks for reading, guys. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, and questions below. See you next week!

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