Staying fit at your desk with office mini-gym

Humans weren't meant to sit at desks eight hours a day. To counter the effects of this sedentary evolution, Fitterfirst, a Canadian fitness equipment company, has come up with the Functional Office Package. It has a large stability ball, a balance board and a disk-shaped hand stretcher and strengthener.

-- Jeannine Stein

Functional Office Package: The ball is in lieu of a chair, which company spokesman Lindsey Smith says "promotes active sitting. When you sit on the ball, your body can't lean back on anything, so it strengthens muscles and helps your posture." The balance board can be used occasionally while standing, to improve balance and joint mobility, or as a foot rest while sitting on the ball. The hand stretcher can relieve tension caused by typing and using a mouse.

Check with a professional before adding these to your office routine, says Renee Shpall Wasserman, a physical therapist at Santa Monica/UCLA Medical Center. A doctor or physical therapist should screen users for "chronic conditions such as lower back pain, age and ability to balance," she says. "We use the balls a lot as treatment tools, but some people might not be able to tolerate sitting on one all day."

Price: $139.95, available at, or by calling 1-800-FITTER1.

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