Sitting is so bad for our bodies, it’s been called “the new smoking.” That may be hyperbole, but just barely. Even if it’s not quite as harmful as a pack-a-day habit, excessive sitting is still associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-around shorter lifespans, and not even regular exercise is enough to counteract its effects. While the standard advice from doctors and trainers is often to take a ten-minute walk after every hour we spend in a chair, most of our jobs simply aren’t that flexible.
Standing desks offer one way to tackle this problem, with designs ranging from portable desk platform add-ons to stands that hook onto the back of your chair. If chronic pain, disability, or just plain preference dampens your enthusiasm about being on your feet all day, other options include chairs that require active balancing to keep more of your muscles engaged, or even eschewing furniture altogether. But for those who like sitting down to work (or find themselves fidgeting a lot in the process), a new product presents a happy medium.
The HOVR is a leg swing that attaches to the underside of your desk, giving you an active foot rest that helps you burn significantly more calories than you would by simply sitting at an ordinary desk. While under-desk exercisers like ellipticals and step machines can require some focus to keep moving while performing your usual tasks, the HOVR is designed to encourage unconscious, non-distracting movement.
The design is pretty simple. Two non-slip foot pads sit on either end of a bar, hanging from a strap that mounts to the underside of your desk by way of six screws. Alternatively, there’s an independent stand version that’s more portable and requires no attachment points. Just put your feet on the pads and move in any way that’s comfortable. According to the desk swing’s creators, there’s really no wrong way to use it, since staying balanced on it naturally causes you to move your legs, improving your circulation and helping you stay alert during work hours. HOVR even backs up these claims with studies by the Mayo Clinic, the University of Chicago, and the University of Tokai.
HOVR’s creators say that their under-desk leg swing is the closest people can currently get to the motions of walking while sitting down, adding that it burns 17 percent more calories than sitting, gaining it NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) certification from the Mayo Clinic. If you want to track exactly how much more you’re moving than usual, you can connect the swing to an accompanying smartphone app or an optional FitBit-like wrist device.
Too much fidgeting may be frowned upon in some workplaces, but depending on how your office is set up, sliding one of these swings under your desk could help you channel that energy in a way that flies completely under the radar. In any case, it seems like using it would be a lot less distracting than moving all your stuff around to assemble a stand-up desk.
HOVR is now available on the company’s website, starting at $59 for the desk-mounted version and $119 for the freestanding one.