What are the Under-desk Elliptical Benefits?

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Many of us have to work at a desk for a hefty portion of the day. Even after work, not everyone can manage the time to get a solid workout regularly. Some of you may be looking for ways to increase the amount of exercise you get, and in the process, you’ve heard of something called an under-desk elliptical or a mini elliptical. But are they any good? Fortunately, there are multiple benefits that you can gain from using an under-desk elliptical. In this article, we will present them to you in detail.

Mini elliptical
Mini elliptical

More economic than that of full-sized ellipticals

Having only the pedal mechanism and considering their size, an under-desk elliptical is obviously a lot less expensive than a full-sized elliptical. There are some high-end ones with a display and other smart features, but most of them cost around $100 or less. Whereas, a full-sized elliptical with its large frame and multitude of convenience features cost at least a few hundred dollars.

➥ You can have a look at the compact ellipticals for your studio flat.

Multitask between work & exercise

The main purpose of an under-desk elliptical is to allow you to get some exercise while doing something where you would otherwise just be sitting in one place. Only the legs are moving and since the motion is not so strenuous, it leaves your hands and your mind free to focus on work. They are also great for when you are sitting and watching TV.

Ideal for home or office usage

The compact size means that these machines can be placed under the most commonly found desks, hence the name. They are also light enough to be carried to and from work. Most of us work sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time. So, you just place it under your desk at home or the office. Then you can pedal and type away at the same time. Additionally, you do not have to worry about disturbing others since under-desk ellipticals are typically very quiet. Your coworkers might not even notice you are using one unless you point it out.

Carry handle
Carry handle

Perfect for maintaining fitness

We already know that sitting for long periods of time can have adverse effects on your health. According to the CDC, inactivity is one of the major causes of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. However, in the 21st century, a large proportion of people do not have a choice but to sit in front of a screen to earn their living. An under-desk elliptical is a perfect way to get some movement in and mitigate some of these harmful effects.

Helps in weight loss & toning

While an under-desk elliptical by itself is not enough to shred fat, it is an excellent way to supplement your weight loss routine. Proper exercise and a healthy diet are crucial for losing pounds. But with an under-desk elliptical, you can burn up around 100 to 300 calories per hour. If you are using it for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week at 150 calories/hour, that’s 1500 calories a week that you would not have burned otherwise. Another great thing about these machines is that they help you to tone your leg muscles.

Aids in enhancing productivity

Our brains find it very difficult to focus on a particular task for more than an hour, especially if it is something monotonous like data entry. Doing something else alongside, like pedaling on an under-desk elliptical, keeps your mind engaged and prevents it from getting distracted easily. Not all people might experience this advantage, but for some, it might be a game-changer in terms of productivity. Besides, an increase in physical activity during the day helps to thwart symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Under desk elliptical
Under desk elliptical

It is easy on your joints

One major advantage of ellipticals, in general, is that they provide low impact workouts. Hence, your ankle and knee joints will remain safe and healthy in the long run. This is even more true for a mini elliptical. There is also almost zero chance of ever getting injured using one of these things. Furthermore, with ellipticals, you get a motion that feels very natural to your body.

Durable & long-lasting

Most mini elliptical trainers are built to be quite sturdy. While they are light enough to be carried by hand, most of them are still heavy enough to ensure that they stay in place as you pedal. Under-desk ellipticals are generally durable, being able to withstand the occasional impact. Moreover, since the use of these machines is not so intense, they will often last for years without requiring any repairs or maintenance.

Seamless assembly

Compared to most other at-home exercise equipment, an under-desk elliptical is fairly easy to assemble. Anyone, no matter their mechanical ability, can put one together in just a few minutes. Usually, all you have to do is attach the pedals to the main body using a few screws. Many mini ellipticals are delivered fully assembled, saving, even more, time and hassle.

Easy to use in either standing or seating position

There are plenty of models of under-desk ellipticals out there that offer the option to pedal in either a standing position or a seated position. The advantage is that you can burn more calories when you pedal standing up. However, not all mini ellipticals are designed for this, and those that are should be checked for the maximum weight capacity.

Standing use of elliptical
Standing usage of elliptical

Offers multiple resistance levels

Even though mini ellipticals have few features compared to their big brothers, just about all of them retain the ability to vary the resistance level. The resistance is provided by magnets which are controlled using a knob/dial. Usually, you will find 8 levels of resistance. If you are trying to concentrate on your work, it’s best to not crank up the resistance too high. Otherwise, you will get distracted too much. On the other hand, setting it too low won’t let you burn as many calories as you are hoping for. Instead, keeping it at around halfway should be just right.

Resistance dial Resistance dial

Things to look out for

1. Performance

A good under-desk elliptical must be able to vary the resistance level. Some of them might even have an incline feature to provide more of a challenge. For smooth and noise-free operation, it is important to check the weight of the flywheel. The heavier the flywheel, the better it maintains momentum and delivers seamless motion. Also, having magnetic resistance and a good quality belt drive also helps to keep the machine silent and also reduce maintenance requirements.

2. User weight limitations

As mentioned before, some mini ellipticals can be used while standing. Unfortunately, the weight capacity of such models is not more than 200 pounds. Therefore, highly overweight people cannot use them standing up. For them, it’s much better to use a full-seized elliptical machine to get an effective workout. The good news is that most people who buy mini ellipticals, do so to use them while seated. In that case, anyone can use these machines, regardless of their weight. Even those who are morbidly obese and are not able to use a regular-sized elliptical.

3. Noise levels

Before buying, you should test out the under-desk elliptical first. Check to see how noisy it is. If you are planning to use it at work, then you probably don’t want to annoy your colleagues. Having a silent machine is especially important since in many offices the environment is pretty quiet. The drive system should run smoothly, and the smoother it is, the quieter the elliptical will run.

4. Features

Other than the ones already discussed, you might want your under-desk elliptical to have a few extra features. There is no place for pulse sensors, so you won’t ever find heart rate monitors. But you can find other features such as an LCD screen that displays time, distance, calories, etc. The most expensive ones will have Bluetooth connectivity. With this, you can connect to apps on your phone, view your stats, and even store them.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Do under-desk ellipticals work?

Ans.: In short, yes, under-desk elliptical machines are effective. Truthfully, you won’t lose 30-40 pounds in a month, nor will you become an athlete. But if your goal is to just get some extra exercise in a sedentary lifestyle, then yes, an under-desk elliptical is a great machine to have. Plus, they’ll tone your lower body muscles and boost your mood due to the increased level of activity throughout the day.

Q2. Would it be safe for someone who’s either pregnant, elderly, or suffering from health issues to use an under-desk elliptical?

Ans.: There are absolutely no risks to using an under-desk elliptical. The pedaling motion is quite natural and very low impact. In fact, this is one of the best ways to get in some light cardio which should be pursued by everyone, even if they are pregnant. If you are still unsure, ask for advice from your doctor.

Q3. How many calories can I get to burn while using an under-desk elliptical?

Ans.: According to the American Council on Exercise, you can burn anywhere from 100 to 300 calories in 60 minutes with the level of activity you get using an under-desk elliptical. The amount of calories you burn depends on your weight, the level of resistance, and the RPM at which you are pedaling.


Hopefully, you now understand the advantages that an under-desk elliptical provides. Before buying, remember to really think it through and consider your requirements, preferences, and budget. In conclusion, an under-desk elliptical is a great piece of equipment for breaking out of a sedentary lifestyle. If you remain consistent, they will aid in leading a healthier and more active lifestyle.

My name is Dion Lewis. I’ve been cycling since my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions. In 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 bike gear.

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