Running is a great activity. But it’s not for everyone. The constant pounding of the joints on hard surfaces can do a lot of potential damage to the knees, joints, and tendons. Running a treadmill can break up some of that impact as they often have a shock-absorbing system. But what if the running motion is still too difficult? This is where an elliptical comes into play. An elliptical machine mimics the motion of running but without the impact, making it easier on your joints.
We have also learned more info about the dangers of inactivity, and sitting for extended periods of time such as weight gain, hormonal issues, muscle loss, and back problems. Many have added a treadmill desks into their lives. This might not be practical for your work set up–and any knee injuries you might have–so the solution is an under-desk elliptical. This will be a quick look at the best ones to help keep you active and fit, and why they can be a great boost to your health.
Best Under Desk Elliptical
Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine
The Cubii Pro is a simple and compact unit that will fit under any desk allowing you to stay active while you work. This unit is super quiet so no one will even be aware that you’re using it. It also comes with some technology despite its size in the form of Bluetooth connectivity to sync your FitBit to it.
It even has adjustable resistance so you can easily change the intensity of your cardio. It is very smooth to use, and you can burn up to 125 calories an hour while using this machine. The great thing with compact units like this is you can also use them while watching TV, or anytime you are stuck sitting (like in a Zoom meeting) but still want to be active.
- Set and track your fitness goals with the Bluetooth connectivity
- Easily portable and can be taken anywhere
- Non Slip pedals for better traction
- Amazon top choice
- Not ideal for more intense exercise
- A bit heavier than some other units
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Mini Exercise Bike
Best Choice For More Intense Exercise
The Magnetic Mini is another Amazon top choice and can hold up to more intense exercise. This unit has 8 different levels of resistance so you can engage in more intense workouts. This makes it an ideal choice if you like to do any form of intervals which can lead to better improvements in body fat loss, and increases in overall fitness.
This is a stable unit with rubber supports so it will stay in place during use. It is still compact enough to easily fit under the desk. It also comes with a digital display so you can track your stats such as speed, time, distance, and calories burned. The built-in foot straps will also keep you more secure during your workout and will allow your leg muscles to be properly engaged leading to a better cardiovascular output.
- Can be used by the arms for an upper-body workout
- Only weighs 21 pounds
- Can handle weights of up to 220 pounds
- Takes a little assembly
- No Bluetooth connectivity
DeskCycle Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser
Best Hybrid Option
This is a great option that feels like a combination between an elliptical machine and a bike. It’s the ideal choice if you have any knee or joint issues as there is virtually no impact. You also have the option to get up to higher speeds because of the cycling design.
This can be a great way to burn more calories and get even better cardiovascular engagement. Any time spent working can now be a time when you improve your health. The DeskCycle has a low profile design and can fit under desks as low as 27 inches.
Even with its low profile, you still get some great performance with its 8 different levels of magnetic resistance There is also an upright LCD display so you can track your stats and monitor your progress as you exercise. The DeskCyle is the ideal choice for seniors with its hybrid design but is also great for all levels of ability.
- Quick and easy set up
- Built-in foot straps for added security
- Extremely quiet
Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider
The E1000 is extremely compact and portable. It can easily be transported to your office or workspace, and back home. It only weighs 24 pounds and due to its compact size–can be used in every situation.
If you have a smaller desk setup, this is a perfect choice. Despite its compact size, you still get a great stride motion that will feel like a regular elliptical machine. What makes this under-desk elliptical unique is that it can actually be used while standing.
This is great if you have limited mobility, or are looking for something more engaging as it can easily be converted from sitting to standing mode. It can also be used in forwards and backward directions which creates more muscle usage and incorporates in the hamstrings.
- Adjustable resistance
- Holds up to 250 pounds of weight
- Extremely quiet while using
- No app connectivity
Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine
Most Realistic Movement
The JR1 is the perfect mini elliptical that is still ergonomically designed. It will give you a lifelike elliptical motion that will properly engage your muscles and cardiovascular system. The JR1 suits all ages and all ability levels. It can be used for the average workday under a desk, can be used for rehabilitation, for seniors, even for gamers who are sitting on the couch most of the day.
It’s quiet function makes this perfect for exercising anywhere, at any time without disturbing anyone. Despite being so small, the JR1 has 8 different levels of resistance so you can constantly change the intensity of your workouts to get even better results. This machine was designed by people who have desk jobs so they considered all the requirements needed to make it the ideal under-desk elliptical.
- Stylish design
- LCD display
- Holds up to 250 pounds
- No app connectivity
Sunny Health & Fitness Under Desk Elliptical
Number one on our list is the Sunny under desk elliptical. This machine has all the performance and features you need to get as fit as possible, while still sitting. It is compact but has a wide base of support; it has 8 different levels of magnetic resistance, and uses a belt drive mechanism. This makes it super smooth, and extremely quiet to use.
This machine is easily portable and comes with a built-in handle to make moving it around as easy as possible. If you have multiple locations you use where you could do with some physical activity, this is the machine for you. You can also track your stats in real-time on the LCD display. Keep track of your time, distance, speed, and calories by scanning through each category. The whole machine is still ultra compact, so you don’t need to worry about it fitting under the type of desk you use.
- Built-in carry handle
- Large, non-slip pedals
- Digital monitor
- Long, 7-inch stride length
- No app connectivity
Important Things to Consider When Buying an under-desk elliptical
With these types of ellipticals, you need to consider the size of the desk you would be using it under. Even though these machines are small and compact, they still require some height clearance for your knees. If you have a smaller desk, you’ll want to go for the most compact option. If you have more room, you can buy the larger size–but most of them should fit as that’s what they are designed for.
You also have to consider your activity needs. If you only want one for general fitness while you are working, you don’t need to worry about too many features or different levels of resistance. If you want some more performance, and looking for a more intense workout, you’ll want to consider an option that tracks your stats and can give you more resistance to change your workout intensity.
Do Underdesk Ellipticals Work?
If you are looking for a type of cardio machine that will help you build muscle fast, then an underdesk elliptical is not the best option. However if you want to exercise at home while working on other things or while traveling, then this could be a good option for your cardio needs.
These machine helps to strengthen your muscles while also getting your heart rate up and burning calories. Ellipticals are great for building muscle as well as aerobic endurance. Another benefit of elliptical cross trainers is that they help to improve your balance, coordination, and posture.
Can you lose weight with an under-desk elliptical?
If you remain consistent with using one, it’s possible to lose weight with an under-desk elliptical. There are many other factors involved with losing weight including your diet and activity level the rest of the day. But an elliptical used under the desk helps break up those periods of extended sitting that can lead to weight gain.
Which is better: an elliptical or bike under a desk?
It depends on what type of exercise you prefer. If you’ve been an avid runner you may prefer the elliptical as it mimics the running motions. If you are a fan of cycling, you’ll obviously want to go with the bike. The one advantage with the bike is it’s not as engaging as the elliptical so you can go for longer periods of time. The elliptical may give you a bit more intensity due to the range of motion required to use it.
What kind of workout can I do with an under-desk elliptical?
An under-desk elliptical is great for steady-state cardiovascular exercise. This is still a great way to improve your heart and lung health, and still burn calories at the same time. You can mix in periods of higher-intensity intervals, but you may not be able to go at the same pace as you would on a full machine.
Personal Trainer Recommendation & Conclusion
The under-desk elliptical will be great for your cardiovascular needs, but you may want to mix it with some form of resistance training to get an all-around great workout. If you are part of a gym, that makes it easy. If not, you may want to get some other resistance equipment or free weights to do some upper body training and more muscular engagement. You can also do bodyweight circuit training which will help give you a full-body workout. This, matched with the cardio from using your elliptical, will be a great way to get even better fitness results.
We have become a very inactive society. We spend a majority of time off our feet, and sit much longer than we should. This had led to many conditions related to inactivity such as weight gain, diabetes, and issues like heart disease. By using an under-desk elliptical, you break up those long periods of inactivity and can use that time not only to be productive, but boost your health and fitness.