These desks are not as healthy as they're cracked up to be.
Nothing says "I strive to be a healthy person" quite like a standing desk. But despite the health halo around these trendy workstations, research doesn't always back up their benefits. A 2016 study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that standing rather than sitting burned a mere 2 or 3 additional calories per 15 minutes—or as the lead study author put it, "not a very significant increase." And ironically, a small study in Ergonomics even found that standing for a prolonged amount of time could actually lead to more discomfort throughout the body.
That's not to say that standing desks are all bad. If you get back pain from sitting down or simply prefer to stand while you type, a standing desk could be worth considering. (These are a few models we like.) And it's worth noting that a small study this past fall in BMJ did link standing desks to increased work performance and lower anxiety levels. But if you've been torturing yourself by standing for nine hours a day in the name of wellness, other items out there can improve your workplace health. Unlike standing desks, most of the products on this list are more affordable (all ring in under $150) and don't require nagging your office administrator for help setting it up.
There's a reason why sitting is often referred to as the new smoking: Sedentary lifestyles have been linked to increased rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and a shorter lifespan. A better solution than standing up all day? Actually walking around more often.
If you work from home or have an office, a portable treadmill like the Weslo CardioStride 4.0 Manual Walking Folding Treadmill will make it easy to sneak in steps between meetings. True, it's not the most high-tech model out there, but it's self-powered (so you don't need to be near an electrical outlet to use it), has two incline positions, and folds into itself for easy transport and storage.
Get a fitness tracker
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of an office—and if the thought of fitting a treadmill next to your open workspace is laughable, a fitness tracker is a good alternative. The investment will motivate you to find ways to get more steps in throughout the day, and you'll be able to monitor your progress over time.
For basic step tracking, we love the Fitbit Flex 2. The design is sleek enough to wear with work clothes, and it gives you gentle reminders to get up and move every hour. Plus, it's one of the more affordable Fitbit models out there and available in a range of fun colors, like this lilac shade.
Invest in desk dumbbells
Lifting weights has been linked to a faster metabolism, stronger bones, better brain function, even reduced stress. Sneak in a few bicep curls while catching up on emails with these AmazonBasics Neoprene Dumbbells. They're affordable and stack easily so you can store them discreetly under your desk.
Tone your core
Sit up straight
Speaking of posture: Whether you stand or sit, slouching over a computer is bad news for your health, and has been linked to higher rates of stress and even depression. If you have good intentions of sitting up straight but find that you absentmindedly slip throughout the day, try the Upright Go. This "digital posture coach" is a strapless corrector that sits on your upper back and uses gentle vibrations to remind you to sit up when you begin to slouch.
Occupational allergies are a real thing. If you find that you have headaches or rashes at work, a sensitivity to certain chemicals in your office furniture, carpet, or paint could be to blame. To reduce allergens near your desk, look for an air purifier that has a HEPA filter. The Honeywell HPA100 True HEPA Allergen Remover was ranked one of the best air purifiers in Health's 2017 Home Awards, and this model has a smaller footprint that works well for offices.
Making sure you stay hydrated throughout the day can combat low energy levels and irritability. When it comes to water bottles that will motivate you to keep sipping away, we love the Hydro Flask. This vacuum-insulated stainless steel water bottle keeps liquids hot or cold for hours. (And yes, that includes ice cubes.) "I just drop in a few ice cubes in the morning, and they are still clinking around by the time I ride the subway home in the evening," raves one Health writer.
Prevent the winter blues
Nix seasonal affective disorder with a SAD light therapy lamp. The National Institute for Mental Health recommends soaking up a bright light (at least 10,000 lux) for 20 to 60 minutes a day to ease symptoms of the disorder. The Circadian Optics Lampu Light Therapy Lamp is small enough to place on your desk (and stylish enough that your coworkers will soon all want one too).
Block blue light
Have you heard of blue light? It's emitted from LED-based devices (think your computer, smartphone, and tablet) and has a shorter wavelength than colors like red or yellow, meaning it sends more energy to your eye.
The problem with that? "Individuals tend to blink less frequently when mesmerized by what is on their screens, or by simply focusing on their work for extended periods," Raymond Iezzi, MD, an ophthalmologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Health in a previous interview. This can lead to dry eye, burning, irritation, and poor sleep. Blue light-blocking glasses, such as this pair from Swannies, can help ease digital eye strain and improve your sleep.