8 Alternatives to Sitting at Your Desk

Here are eight ways to adopt a better position for your body.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #271

3.  Kneel

Like lunging, kneeling is a perfect position for “getting down” to a standard table or desk height without actually sitting. Be sure not to slouch if you kneel, and instead kneel upright with the shoulders slightly squeezed back and head and neck tall. You’ll also want a towel or mat for this position.

4.  Sit on Floor

Rather than sitting at a table, I’ll often spread out on the floor to eat lunch, work on my laptop, or converse with someone. When you sit on the floor, you’re forced to engage in more hip and hamstring mobility than sitting in a chair. Just try to go one day without sitting in a chair and notice how much your body has to “work”!

5.  Balance Board

Many companies now make special balance boards, which are basically a standing platform made of metal or wood that is balanced over a center fulcrum. If you google “Fluidstance,” you’ll see an example of the one I use. It’s not quite as hard as many balance challenging devices, so you can still focus on your work without worrying about falling on your face, but still makes the tiny muscles in your feet, knees, hips and core work just a little harder. Of course, it’s great for visual and vestibular balance too.

6.  Foam Mat

Like a balance board, a foam mat can challenge your balance a bit, but also offers a more forgiving surface for your feet and calves than hard wood, carpet or other standard flooring material. If you have a foam mat, it can double as your surface for lunging and kneeling too! In this video, you can see the foam mat that I use.

7.  Topographical Mat

Have you ever seen a “mat” made out of tiny river rocks? It’s just what it sounds like: a wide variety of small objects on a mat surface that force your feet muscles to shift and work, while also stretching precious ligaments and tendons in your feet. As I mentioned in this podcast episode on standing versus sitting, my sons and I are in the process of making one this month! Some companies, such as “TopoMat” now make mats with a wide variety of angles and surfaces that work similarly, and recently I posted this image on Instagram of a creative way I pieced together my own topographical mat (that doubles as foot “therapy” using an acupressure blanket and a foam mat!

8.  Stand

In my podcast interview with Jeff Wilser, the author of The Good News About What's Bad for You...The Bad News About What's Good for You, we discuss how standing all day long can often put you into poor posture, with locked out knees, beat up ankles, and blood pooling in your calves and lower extremities. That’s why I saved this one for last. However, standing is still a position I find myself in for a good three to five hours every day, and I typically intersperse the other seven positions you’ve discovered in this article in between my standing sessions.

So that’s it. Which of these have you tried? Do you have more questions about these eight alternatives to standing at your desk, or your own to add? Join the conversation at Facebook.com/getfitguy.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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