7 Pieces of Workout Equipment You Can Use at Your Desk

Studies suggest that the number one hurdle to getting exercise is distance. For Americans, the gym is just too dang far away. Well, what if you could slate in a killer workout without having to go a foot out of your way? Because, with this gear, you can get a full-body burn without leaving the place you spend most—40 hours (or more!)—of your time.

White mini pedal exerciser photo

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For Soft-Pedalers: DeskCycle 2

For a low-impact workout with a big impact on your waistline, look no further than this sleek under-desk exercise bike that allows you to pedal in place without losing focus or drawing undue attention from coworkers. Patented magnetic resistance and a 40-pound flywheel make for a smooth, quiet pedal stroke, and ultra-low pedal height prevents knee bouncing "crazy-leg" syndrome. Eight calibrated resistance settings—from barely working to grinding the big gear—mean you can work your butt off without going anywhere at all (an unfortunate metaphor, perhaps, for anyone in a long exile in middle management). ($169; deskcycle.com)

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Treadmill with desk on top of it photo

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For The Walk and Talk: LifeSpan Fitness TR5000-DT3 Under Desk Treadmill

The best research surrounding your desk job and how it's trashing your health (never mind your soul) suggests that simply walking—whether it's to the bathroom, to the water cooler, or even the copy machine—every 30 minutes goes a long way toward counteracting the damage. Take that a few thousand steps further by investing in a whisper-quiet under desk treadmill like the TR5000. Its workhorse 3HP motor is designed to go the distance with you at up to 4 mph through all-day marathon meetings. Smart tech detects every footfall, both for step counting purposes and to shut things down, if necessary. (Some people focus on work so intently that they forget to step, which could be dangerous.) ($1,499; lifespanfitness.com)

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For Pep in Your Step: Reehut Durable Ankle Weights

Transform your feeble deskbound routine—full of exercises like leg extensions, standing hamstring curls, leg raises, and marching in place—into a real strength-building session by increasing resistance with a set of rugged, quality-built ankle weights. These ones from Reehut, which are available in increments from 3 to 10 pounds per set, are comfortable to wear, stay put when strapped, and easily disappear into all but the skinniest of pant legs. Wear them all day, and every coffee break and snack stop becomes a chance to tone up. (from $22; reehut.com)

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A variety of colored hand weights that are shaped like eggs photo

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For a Firmer Handshake: The Friendly Swede Hand Exercise Balls

We all know that a firm handshake wordlessly conveys strength, confidence, trustworthiness, and, to a degree, assertiveness and even initiative. You could improve yours at work with one of those nutcracker-type grip trainers, but it'd only telegraph self-doubt. This trio of unassuming colored eggs, on the other hand, can ratchet up your vise grip—with 20, 30, and 40 pounds of resistance—and signal to your coworkers that you're fun-loving, cultured (these things are Swedish, after all), and whimsical. Just be careful not to get carried away at the next staff meeting, crusher. ($15; amazon.com)

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Black ball chair with four legs photo

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For a Stronger Spine: Safco Zenergy Ball Chair

Having trouble asking for that raise? Lots of people swear that exercise ball chairs cause them to work their core and other tiny trunk stabilizer muscles, which adds up to a stronger, healthier (and undoubtedly more forthright) spine. The improvement here, of course, is that the Zenergy encloses the big, rubbery exercise ball inside an attractive mesh covering, so you don't look so ridiculous bouncing and fidgeting away. Speaking of which, four powder-coated steel legs keep this whole package stable, so nothing rolls away on you. This chair promises to burn a few extra calories regardless of the outcome of "the talk," and improved posture means you'll stand taller and, at last, look your boss straight in the eye. (From $107; amazon.com)

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Person using what looks like a skateboard photo

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For Literally Work-Life Balance: Revolution Focus Pro Balance Board

From the makers of the leading fitness balance board, the versatile Focus strikes a happy medium between its more stable, focus-friendly office-based counterparts and the core-strengthening balance trainers used by hardcore skaters, surfers and snowboarders. Beginning balancers can start with the adjustable wobble cushion base—simply inflate for less stability and more challenge, no pump required—before graduating to the advanced roller base for a more engaging workout. Made of rugged materials in the United States, the board's understated aesthetic helps it easily blend into any office environment. ($180; revbalance.com)

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Woman using the Activ5 photo

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For Holding Steady Under Pressure: Activ5

To understand how this puck-sized "tiny gym in your pocket" works, you need to wrap your head around isometrics. Most commonly referred to as "hold exercises," these are strength-building, body-toning movements—like planks, wall sits, and the prayer pose—that require you to contract your muscles without movement. While isometrics don't typically require equipment, that makes them hard to measure which, in turn, makes them hard to stick with. Activ5 not only guides you through 100-plus full-body isometric exercises and workouts, it also senses and accurately measures more than 200 pounds of muscle force, so you can see how your fitness is progressing. The focus, here, is on intense but achievable five-minute workouts that fit into your workday, are so low-key your coworkers won't know what you're up to. ($120; activ5.com)

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