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Are Mini Ellipticals Effective for Serious Exercise?

The way people live and work has changed over the past couple of decades, and so did their perspective of exercise. More and more people every day are realizing that they need exercise but don’t have the time to run off to a gym. Having a full-time work schedule or responsibilities at home prevents the general population from achieving their cardio requirements.

The fact that we spend most of our days seated is another very important reason as to why it is so critical to get regular exercise.

Thus it comes as no surprise that cross and mini elliptical trainers are some of the most popular cardio machines available today. Under desk Introduction

A mini elliptical trainer is essentially a smaller, under-the-desk variant of the elliptical, which is a stationary exercise device. The user stands on or positions their feet on two platforms and moves them forwards and back in an elliptical (oval) motion. This is primarily a cardio exercise machine.

The mini elliptical’s effectiveness is highlighted by its versatility and portability as an exercise device. You can set it up under your work desk. Its compact size makes it portable and does not draw the attention of others. Its ability to leave your upper body free to focus on other tasks while you get your cardio done is one of the mini elliptical trainer’s selling points.

There are obviously other strong underlying reasons for this popularity of choice. Let us dive into some of these and you might think so too:

Why would I choose a mini elliptical?

1. They Are Very Cost-Effective

From a commercial standpoint the traditional exercise machines, like treadmills, stationary bikes, or the standard elliptical, will cost you a pretty penny. Especially, some top-of-the-shelf models may be priced at thousands of dollars!

Compared to that, a mini elliptical is very forgiving on your wallet. Even when you consider a mini of a more quality build and brand, the price will never top $1000.

➥ You can check out the cost of standard ellipticals for having an overall idea about their prices.

2. Multitasking

Unlike the conventional exercise machines, the mini elliptical does not have handles or handlebars, leaving your hands free.

Want to burn some calories but your favorite show is on? Just turn on the TV and pedal away!

Office work intruding upon your workout hours? Setup the mini elliptical under the desk and continue working!

All you have to do with a mini elliptical is pedal for a determined amount of time, let’s say 20-30 minutes, leaving your mind and upper body free. The only downside that comes from working out like this is that your upper body gets no exercise.

3. Versatile and Portable Fitness Solution

The dimensions of these mini ellipticals are very compact and light enough to literally be taken wherever you go. The better models of the mini elliptical are very quiet. So you don’t have to think about disturbing others at maybe a workplace as you are getting some calories burnt under the desk.

➥ If you happen to be live in a studio apartment, then, you can have a look at some of the compact ellipticals.

4. Easy To Assemble and Robust

With a standard-sized exercise machine, you might have the need to employ the use of a user manual to get things up and running. But these mini ellipticals take as little as five minutes to set up. Just attach the pedals to the body and you are good to go. Some of them even come fully assembled out of the package!

How do mini ellipticals work?

In terms of physical appearance, the mini elliptical is vastly different from its traditional, full-sized counterpart. The mini elliptical gets rid of the handles and the large flywheel for a smaller one, and thus is essentially only the footplate section of a full-sized elliptical.

So do they work differently?

No, and yes.

The user simply has to mount the footplates and apply pressure to create an up and down stepping action. This turns the footplates in an arc and allows the body weight to be spread evenly on the legs to simulate walking. With each step, the user’s body weight is focused through each leg, building up resistance to give a much more even workout.

But unlike a traditional elliptical, the mini does not have handles. This means that the user can either perform their workout routine seated or, depending on the quality of the mini, standing.


under desk standing

Impact of mini ellipticals

Most exercise articles on the internet talk about the impact of an exercise machine. But what does it actually mean in the workout dictionary?

Impact essentially refers to the action of the body coming into contact with an object – the floor, mat, or machine. The larger the distance between them the higher the impact.

High impact exercises involve periods of time where a person has both of their feet off the ground (running or jumping). Every moment the person comes in contact with the ground, a shock is sent throughout the body and puts stress on the bones and joints. Gradually this stress builds up and might even lead to joint injuries.

On the other hand, low impact exercises involve the person having their feet firmly planted on a surface. This significantly reduces the strain on the joints as there is little to no impact, making this a much safer form of exercise.

Ellipticals, both standard and mini, are low impact exercise machines. They keep their users fully supported and do not require them to leave the ground. So experiencing an impact-type joint injury on an elliptical is little to none.

But if we were to directly compare a portable elliptical to a mini stepper, we can very well argue that the mini elliptical poses a lower impact on the body than the stepper. Unlike the elliptical, the stepper requires you to stand and transfer your body weight back down to the ground through each leg individually. This set of actions usually exposes the user to a slightly more impact on their bodies. Whereas, the mini elliptical fully supports both feet enabling the bodyweight to be much more evenly spread throughout the exercise session.

Benefits of using mini ellipticals

Cost-effectiveness and versatility aside, the mini elliptical has plenty of benefits as an at-home, or at-office, workout solution. Let us now dive into some of the most sought after benefits that the mini elliptical provides.

1. Lose Weight and Get Toned

More accessibility of mini ellipticals, due to their price range and size, gives their users more opportunities to pedal away and burn fat for extended periods of time.

A solid session of 30 minutes can burn up to 400 calories. 20-minute sessions a day can stop weight gain and 3-5 sessions a week can actually encourage weight loss.

A better quality mini elliptical will allow for both forward and backward rotations. The forward motion targets thighs, quadriceps, and butt. The backward motion targets the upper legs, hamstrings, and calves. Your eventual toned legs will thank you for that.

core glutes hamstrings hip

2. Helps You to Be Active

Earning a living nowadays usually involves sitting behind a desk for long hours all the while knowing of the negative impact on health this brings. That is the sad reality we experience. But having an under-desk elliptical might offset some of these effects and raises your activity level.

Using the under-desk elliptical encourages a cardiovascular workout. An approximate exercise period of 20 minutes will increase your heart and breathing rates. This helps to boost the various functions of the heart, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and eventually, chances of heart disease.

3. Mood Booster

You can expect more than just physical benefits from the regular use of a mini elliptical.
According to popular theory, a 20-30 minute exercise session may cause a release of endorphins in your body. Endorphin is a chemical that triggers a positive feeling in your body, which many describe as euphoric.

Also, better transport of nutrients and oxygen due to your regular exercise will encourage an upswing of mood. But that credit can also be given to your improving physical appearance.

4. Safe for Your Joints

The smooth fluid motion of the pedals of the mini elliptical exerts incredibly low stress on the hips, knees, ankles, and back. These are the major joints that are usually worked the hardest when using a stationary bike or treadmill, and may leave you with long term detrimental effects.

➥ If you’re not entirely sure about using mini ellipticals, then, have a look at the under-desk elliptical benefits.

F. A. Q.s

Q1. Can I lose weight while using mini ellipticals?

Ans.: If weight loss is your goal then you should definitely give some thought to not only how much you are giving (exercise) but also to how much you are taking in (diet). There are a lot of factors that go into calculating weight loss, of which your heart rate plays a major role. Safe to say that the mini elliptical does encourage a cardiovascular workout. With an estimate of 60 minutes of intense exercise, five days a week on the mini elliptical will see you losing weight in no time!

➥ If you specifically plan on shedding some pounds, then, check out the elliptical resistance levels for effectively losing weight.

Q2. Would it be possible to tone my muscles while using a mini elliptical?

Ans.: A mini elliptical usually targets the lower body muscles. A good quality mini elliptical has the feature of rotating both forward and backward. The forward motion targets thighs, quadriceps, and butt, whereas the backward motion targets upper legs, hamstrings, and calves. On top of that, if you are using the mini elliptical while standing, the exercise will also make use of your mid-torso muscles, abs, and lats, for balance. So it is possible to get your muscles toned by using a mini elliptical, except for the ones on your upper body.

Q3. How effective would mini ellipticals be for me?

Ans.: Like all exercise machines, the mini elliptical has a few target categories that may prove effective for you.

  • Stress-free exercise: It is a low-impact machine, which means that it puts little to no strain on your bones and joints while using it. Making it that much more accessible to newcomers but effective enough for the cardio needs of a fitness maniac.
  • Good for your heart: A mini elliptical is essentially a cardio machine. Using it allows your heart to work at a higher rate and carry oxygen better. In other words – a better vascular system.
  • Helps correct your posture: The pedaling movement of the mini elliptical will help your lower back straighten up, make your shoulders feel more flexible, and give your neck its long-awaited stretch. This gradually leads to you having a better posture.
  • Improves your mood: Regular cardio exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals, like endorphins, in your body. And the mini elliptical can definitely achieve that.

Q4. How long should I be using a mini elliptical?

Ans.: Always remember that the exercise time period is not as important as your diet. That said, an estimated 20 minutes of exercise per day for 3 to 5 days a week will prevent weight gain. Adding to this, 60 minutes of intense exercise five days a week on the mini elliptical should maximize your results.


We hear the benefits of exercise, all the time, everywhere. But we still procrastinate to even get started, thinking that we have no time with our packed schedules and work life. And this may be genuinely true. But everyone’s fitness journey has to start somewhere and this may as well be with a mini elliptical training machine.

With a mini elliptical you can easily fit your cardio sessions side by side with your busy schedule and put your mind at ease. With a regular commitment to your mini elliptical, you will definitely see an improvement to your overall health and find that you are sporting more energy than you had before.

Convenience is the name of the game with the mini elliptical. Why do you need to go on an arduous journey to the gym just to get your daily cardio needs, when you can just use your compact elliptical wherever you want?

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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