Make no mistake: Sitting at a desk all day is hard work. Back and shoulder pain, along with leg aches and swollen feet, were my normal. My best options seemed to be more over-the-counter pain relievers and energy drinks to make it through the day.
That is until I started using under desk exercise equipment for a workout while I was working.
According to all recent research, sitting with our legs under the desk for long periods of time destroys our health and shortens our lives. We don’t burn enough calories, muscles atrophy, and we get stiff. That leads to a low metabolism, elevated triglycerides, and bad cholesterol, along with a myriad of other health problems. The alternative to potential (and likely) health problems is to exercise under your desk while working.
I’m going to show you some popular office workout equipment to use in your cubicle or office. A simple workout at work will increase your flexibility, mobility, endurance, and health.
Here are the best under desk devices I’ve found:
Under-Desk Exercise Equipment
Even though the best method may be with devices made specifically to pedal under your desk as you work, they aren’t the only way to exercise at work. I’ll start with pedal machines and wind up with a few surprising gadgets to help you stay healthy in the office.
The Best Desk Pedal Exerciser
Features To Look For in a Pedal Exerciser?
- Foldable. Some pedal exercisers are foldable which is great if you want to move it from one location to another. For instance, you might want to take your desk bike home or move it around in the office.
- Digital Readout. Most, but not all, come equipped with a digital readout to keep up with things like miles pedaled, speed, calories burned, total distance and time.
- Adjustable Foot Straps. This is a must-have for me. Pedal Straps keep your feet securely on the pedals with never a thought of where they are or if they’re about to slide off.
- Adjustable Resistance. As you pedal your way to stronger legs, you will need more resistance levels. Even though you probably won’t care about bodybuilding under your desk, you’ll still need adjustable resistance levels to keep you challenged.
- Lightweight. There are countless models, types, and sizes. For use under my desk, I prefer a bike light enough to easily kick around and carry. I want sturdiness and lightweight in the same machine.
Vive Bike Cycle
I like the Vive Desk Cycle because it’s foldable, one of the lightest machines available, and short pedal height, with a very small overall footprint. The only assembly required is screwing on the tension adjuster. It’s noiseless so neither yourself or anyone else will be bothered with the noise of you toning your legs and circulating blood.
Features and Benefits of Vive Desk Cycle
- Only 9″ tall and fits easily under your desk
- Weighs less than 3 pounds and easy to move
- Foldable to make it easy to take home or on vacation
- Quiet means co-workers won’t hear your workout
- Can be used on top of a desk or table to strengthen arms
- Affordable price and does everything the more expensive models do
- Small footprint so you can move it around under your desk
DeskCycle 2 Bike
Like thousands of other users, I consider the DeskCycle 2 Under Desk Exercise Bike and Pedal Exerciser the best model available. This machine can work with a desk as low as 27 inches and has a wider resistance range than others. If fitness is your goal, the low profile fits nicely, is easy to reach and use as you increase your health. The pedaling is quiet, so you will never lose your focus, and your co-workers won’t hear it.
Features and Benefits of DeskCycle 2
- The very low profile means it fits under any desk
- Plenty of leg and knee room when in use
- Narrow front leg keeps it conveniently out of the way when not in use
- Magnetic flywheel for the smoothest and quietest pedaling
- Tension knob in easy reach at the front of the machine
- 8 levels of magnetic resistance levels means you find the perfect setting
- 6 function easy to read LCD monitor to view stats
- The bike lets you pedal forward or backward
- Free online activity logging app to view your own stats, by the day, week, month, and year along with uploading the stats to your Fitbit account
Best Under-Desk Elliptical Machine
An Under desk Elliptical gives you the same benefits as a bike pedal exerciser when it comes to exercising right at your desk. Ellipticals give you a good workout while allowing you to burn calories while sitting in your chair and working away. They are perfect for losing weight, toning and relaxing your legs, improving your overall health, and thinning thighs.
You will improve your fitness and blood flow without having to stop working, watching TV, or playing games. Pull it out from under your work station and exercise while standing up for an even better workout.
Features to Look for in a Mini Elliptical
- LCD Digital Readout Display. Keeping up with speed, calories used, total distances and times used by the day and accumulated over time makes exercising more fun and interesting.
- Tension and Resistance Adjustment. This is a must-have for getting the most out of your desk ellipticals. Some days you may want to focus entirely on what you’re doing at work while pedaling. Other days you may want to turn up the resistance and burn some calories. The resistance settings make this possible.
- Large Pedals with Anti-Slip. Large, secure, and anti-slip pedals mean you never need to divert your attention to your feet pedal whether pedaling fast or slow.
- Quiet Ride. Who wants a bike under their desk that shakes, rattles, and rolls during your workout? Not you, and not the person in the next cubicle. Quality means a quite experience that never interrupts.
I’ll be the first to admit that the makers of the IDeer Life Stand Up & Under desk Elliptical seemed to have a lapse of imagination when it came to a brand name. However, they sure made up for it with high quality, usability, and features. And it is that high quality, low profile, and customer satisfaction that make this one of the best elliptical choices for exercise.
Features and Benefits of IDeer Life Elliptical
- Low profile. The closer the pedals are to the floor the more room you have for your knees while exercising. IDeer Life sports a low profile exerciser that works under the lowest of desks. Even with a 26-inch desk, you’ll have room to pedal comfortably.
- Wide Base. A wide base is important for any portable office workout equipment for stability while in use. Your workouts with IDeer Life will be comfortable and stable.
- Multiple Resistance Levels. You need a variety of resistance levels for different purposes and days. Most of these units have pre-set numbers that click in when dialed. IDeer Life is highly adjustable, allowing you full control over your resistance level without the clicks.
- Built-In Handle and Wheels. It is light enough to lift and carry, but no need. You will enjoy the handle on top and the wheels on the bottom for tilting up and rolling wherever you want it.
- Forward or Reverse. Change the pedaling direction to target different muscles in your legs, glutes, and butt.
Cubii Jr Elliptical
The Cubii Jr Desk Elliptical is my first choice of exercise equipment for under desk use. Designed and built by real office workers who knew they needed more physical activity for their bodies at work. The Cubii under-desk elliptical is designed for low to no joint impact and being able to completely forget your legs are constantly moving during your workout. The compact size makes it a great way to keep your body in shape, toned, and looking good while concentrating on your job.
Features and Benefits of Cubii
- Whisper Quiet. The last thing you want is a noisy machine in an office environment. You don’t want your neighbors to hear it, and you don’t want the irritation yourself.
- Super Smooth Action. Made to use without being conscious of pedaling, Cubii pedals as smooth as ice to keep you fit.
- Easy to Read Monitor. The Built-in monitor keeps up with the number of strides, revolutions per minute, calories and time in use.
- Highest Quality. Sometimes I purchase inexpensive tools, gadgets, and toys, but always know I’m getting what I pay for. When you buy a Cubii, you know you have a product that lasts for years and backed up with great service.
- 8 Resistance Levels. After your legs strengthen and you grow accustomed to the movement, you’ll want to start turning up the resistance to meet the challenge. The tension knob is convenient to get to with 8 different levels.
Under Desk Portable Electric Treadmill
The Conquer Under Desk Portable Electric Treadmill Walking Pad keeps your body in motion when working at standing desks. No assembly is required; just open the box, roll it into place, plug it in, and start walking. All studies show that sedentary office lives are unhealthy, but a treadmill at work means you’re no longer sedentary. The exerciser stands on end for easy storage when your workout is over, and comes with a remote control with on, off, and speed control.
Features and Benefits of the Conquer Treadmill
- Walk While You Work. Working at a desk can take a toll on your body and health. Under-Desk treadmills change that scenario for you by getting as much exercise as you need at work.
- No Assembly. Ever got something in a box and spent hours trying to read and understand the directions to put it together? This treadmill comes ready to use. Just open the box, put it where you like, and start walking.
- Small Footprint. The Conquer is only 54″ long, 23″ high, and 5 1/2″ tall. The smart design and slim profile make it a cinch to roll under your desk or set it up anywhere
- Made to Roll, and Stand on End for Storage. The small wheels on the front make it easy to lift one end and roll it around. The slim design and light weight make it simple to stand it on end for storage when not in use.
- Remote Control. Just keep the remote on the desktop for starting, stopping, and adjusting to the perfect speed for walking and working.
Perfect for building your body shape, losing weight, toning, relaxing your legs and improving the health of your entire body when at a standing desk. People who exercise at work are happier, suffer less stress, and are more productive. If you work at a stand-up desk, a treadmill is the perfect solution. All it takes is the constant motion of slow, steady stepping to get the blood flowing as you change resistance levels with walking speed.
Sit At Your Desk More Comfortably
The problem I had with working at my desktop is sitting in the same position for hours with nothing moving but my hands and the shifting of my feet and legs. If that’s what you’re dealing with, take a look at some of the gadgets I’ve used that make a real difference.
Chair Balance Disc
When I first came across the Gaiam Chair Balance Disc, I was unsure it would help my back and legs. Boy, was I surprised! Even though it’s quite comfortable, without being aware of it, your body will stay active. Your butt doesn’t sit down into it like using a chair cushion but on it.
Core muscles will strengthen as your body unconsciously senses your movement and automatically rebalances. This 16″ diameter disk is about 2″ tall and comes inflated. You’ll need to purchase your own inexpensive bicycle air pump to change the firmness, but I like it right out of the box. You will notice the back and leg pain disappearing the first day you sit on it. When you open the box, your first thought will be that it needs air, but it doesn’t. It’s perfect just the way you get it.
Gaiam Balance Ball Desk Chair
I haven’t tried the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair Stool, but I do like the idea. I have used a large exercise ball to sit on at my desk but was never in love with it. I really like this idea because it is mobile and not as large as sitting on an entire ball. With the adjustable chair height and 5 wheels, I can see how it would be the perfect way to get the best from a stability ball at the office.
The hydraulic lift goes from 18 to 23″ and should fit almost any adult size desk perfectly. This chair stool will definitely help with backaches from bad posture. I am sure your butt will love it and doubt you would ever revert to a standard office chair after a couple of days of sitting at your desk.
Who is a good candidate for desk exercise equipment?
You may already own a fitness tracker or a smartwatch that prompts you to get up and move every hour or so. Whether you do, or not, you already know the importance of moving around during the day.
However, we wind up sitting for hours in our office jobs and our heart, muscles, and skeleton take a huge toll. Some of have the ability to change this by being able to get up from desk and move around from time to time.
Some, not so much. Some of us find that getting up during office hours is a no no. If that’s you, you may have been thinking about getting a desk bike, or desk elliptical.
If you’ve been wondering if one of these machines under your desk would help burn some calories, or give you a good workout, here’s what you need to know.
Does Desk Exercise Really Help?
It’s really going to depend on your goals and what you expect to gain.
If you’re like me, there are certain times of the day when focus seems nearly impossible. I’ve found that ellipticals that go under your desk, as well as pedal exercisers, definitely help get my blood moving and help me stay focused.
However, you’re going to need to really put out some pedaling energy to significantly raise your heart rate.
And it takes raising your heart rate as you pedal to effectively burn enough calories to lose weight. So, if you’ve got much weight to lose, these machines may not help.
What About Under-Desk Treadmills?
Foldable treadmills really do about the same thing as pedal exercisers when it comes to raising your heart rate and working your muscles.
But, a lot of us are watching our FitBits and looking for those steps. If that’s you, a folding treadmill that goes under your desk, will help you reach your step goals without ever leaving your computor screen.
Standing or sitting still for long periods of time, such as from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the office, can have a harmful impact on cardiovascular health, according to studies.
Keeping something under your desk for a workout anytime you feel like it is one way to overcome the negative effects and even improve your health.
Having a desk bike or a desk elliptical with resistance levels to suit your goals can be a life changer. Any amount of movement you can get during your sitting hours will help you meet your fitness goals.
Pros and Cons of Exercising at Your Desk
No doubt, these machines provide and easy way to get some movement while doing your office work, or watching TV at home.
I’ve found that any of these machines help the time fly by while I’m having a workout. And passing the time and getting a little physical activity at my desk is always a good thing.
If you know you’re sitting too much and it’s adversly affecting your health, moving your legs for a hour or so on an elleiptical, pedal exerciser, or treadmill is definitely better than nothing.
They don’t do the best job if you’re into losing weight because they don’t really burn a lot of calories. Even though burning 150 calories in an hour at work is nothing to sneeze at.
The only other con I know about is letting yourself think this is the only exercise you need. It’s not.
Even though I would not want to be without them, they can never provide the activity you really need to get from walking, running, or going to the gym and using full blown exercise equipment.
Why You Should Exercise at Your Desk
Here’s why: Most of us think bad posture is the problem, but as it turns out, posture is not really the issue. Actually, it’s simply not using major muscle groups. Using your muscles, even while working at a desk, is what keeps everything in your body activated.
The best advice most people ever hear to counter the effects of sitting is to get up from the desk and move around every hour. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard to stop what I’m doing to walk around the office. And exercise after work is proven to have very little impact on the hours you spend at a desk.
On the other hand, moving and using my body, legs, and other muscles while working with my computer has some surprising benefits. Just to name a few, my flexibility has increased, no more headaches, get up without creaking, and my focus has increased dramatically.
I like keeping a mini exercise bike or elliptical machine under my desk for a workout at the office. If I were using these to lose weight, I would naturally pedal hard with various resistance levels and fast to burn calories. But when I am working, the movement is slower, unconscious, and continuous. This way, I keep my muscles working and blood flowing throughout my body all day.
An under desk exercise bike fits neatly under your desk without taking up a lot of space. They are popular because they are proven to be one of the best devices for improving blood circulation throughout your entire body while working at a computer. Pedaling works your calves, quads, glutes, and hamstrings and burns calories.
The biggest part of all our lives is spent at work. Working in an office or cubicle environment can take a toll on your health, posture, and ability to enjoy your life after hours and off days. It has always been a real struggle to stay fit and healthy while working, but modern inventions and conveniences are the way to do it.
Keeping muscles active most of the day will help reduce your stress levels, improve your health, posture, focus, and productivity. Your back, shoulders, and neck will all feel relaxed at the end of the workday. Using either the best under desk exercise equipment or sitting on a balance disk will make working at a desk much more enjoyable. So don’t just sit there: try something to make life better.