Alternative desk setups: What type of work fitness device is most effective?

Lana Bandoim's picture

How do you choose the best alternative desk setup for weight loss and fitness?


Weight loss is difficult to achieve when you are sitting at a desk every day. It reduces your motivation and physical stamina to exercise and makes it less likely you will achieve your weight loss goals. However, alternative desk setups can help. Several studies have shown the negative effects of sitting for eight hours a day, so manufacturers and office managers have found different ways to solve this issue.

A variety of alternative desks are now available, and they range from standing desks to walk-and-work stations. These new options provide a change from the traditional desk, but which ones are best for weight loss? Furthermore, are they the best way to stay fit while you work?

The benefits of a fitness desk setup

Studies show that employees who exercise at work tend to have fewer sick days, show more enthusiasm for their work and waste less time each day. According to these findings, it would appear that fitness desk setups provide greater benefits than traditional desks.

“We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day,” Joan Price, who is an author, told WebMD. “As ergonomic as your desk or chair may be, sitting produces back pains, headaches, and listlessness. You become less productive.”

Medical professionals and fitness experts recommend interrupting your periods of sitting with short bursts of aerobic activity. This activity increases the heart rate and keeps the metabolism working. This is a key step in preventing weight gain when sitting all day.

Although employees could choose to do jumping jacks and sit-ups at their desk every hour, most do not feel motivated to do it because of pressure from their coworkers, or because they may feel tired. However, when given an alternative desk setup that promotes activity, employees are more likely to exercise. This does not mean that everyone needs an alternative desk but having more options for exercise-and-work stations can encourage employees to get the bursts of activity they need.

Which setup should you choose?

If you are going to spend time working out, you want to choose a setup that will have the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time. You need enough exercise to stretch your muscles and get your metabolism going but not so much that you will be sweaty during your next meeting. You can use the following comparison guide to help you make better decisions when exercising at work.

Standing desk


This desk will not get your heart rate up, but it will make an impact on your posture. Most people hunch over their computer screens and hurt their back and neck long-term. Standing at least once per hour can reduce the negative effects of sitting too long.

Bicycle desk

This desk offers a unicycle-like chair that allows you to cycle while working at a taller desk. It is great for small bursts of energy, getting your heart rate up and kicking your metabolism into gear. However, this does not solve the posture problems caused by sitting in a regular desk chair and can even make some posture problems worse.

Walk and work station

This is a treadmill set up with a waist-high desk where you can take a short walk or jog while answering emails and filling out paperwork. The only downside is you increase your risk of injury because you are not paying enough attention to what your feet are doing. Walking and other cardio workouts are excellent for shedding extra pounds.

Balance ball chair

Many workplaces have yoga balls around the office. Employees can switch out their chairs for an exercise ball to help them work their abdominal muscles and maintain good posture. Since it is difficult to stay balanced on a yoga ball for long periods of time, companies have invented an ergonomic chair with a ball as the base. You gain many of the same benefits but without the risk of losing your balance.

Under desk elliptical

This is a small elliptical machine that can fit under your desk. You place your feet on the pedals and sneak in a quick leg workout while you are typing at your desk. The only downside is sitting in your office chair, which can lead to posture issues and possible strains to your back from the movement.

Each of these options is better than simply sitting at your desk and being inactive all day. You want to choose the alternative you enjoy most, and you will likely see both weight loss benefits and increased productivity as a result.

Image from and used with permission.



Yes! Love my standing desk but can't wait to get a treadmill one, ha! I like to keep things moving through out the day. As an added bonus I get even more creative when I workout!
great examples of fitness desk set ups! Wish this post had images. I'm looking at investing in a standing desk set up, can't wait :)
I walk around every 55 minutes or so- and use two weights to "curl" my arms. I would love a bicycle by my desk- but that only works at home.