Do under the desk ellipticals work?

On their quest for efficient multitasking, people are becoming more oriented towards practical and time-saving exercise machines. Under the desk ellipticals are just what they sound like – compact bike-like devices you can put under the desk (or anywhere, really) and have a proper workout while getting other things done.

Since they engage leg and core muscles, under-desk ellipticals don’t require any upper-body engagement, so you can devote your attention and time to other errands while working on your weight loss. But do these exercise gadgets really work, or are they just a waste of money? Here is some useful info on at-work ellipticals and what to expect when buying one.

How does an under-desk elliptical work?

If anything, mini ellipticals are masters of practicality. These portable, relatively light-weight exercise machines are built to fit under a standard work desk and enable you to quietly and seamlessly pedal from a sedentary position.

Depending on the brand and model, compact ellipticals come with a variety of resistance levels from light to advanced leg workouts. This piece of equipment was designed to provide a cycling-like experience without going to the gym or investing in bulky workout machines.

How effective are under-desk ellipticals?

Can compact ellipticals replace heavy-duty workout equipment? Technically not, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have tremendous benefits on weight loss, muscle toning, and boosting stamina for people who just can’t make time to train on a regular basis.

Like cycling, at-work ellipticals operate on the principle of pedalling, so the more RPM (rotations per minute), the better you are engaging your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and other leg muscles.

Just like any workout, the effects of using an under-desk elliptical will depend on how much you commit to it, so if you consciously engage the core, sit up straight and kick it up a notch, the results will come faster.

In general, mini ellipticals are a smart solution for busy workers who need to squeeze in a low to medium intensity workout to their packed schedule.

Under-desk ellipticals – Pros and Cons

While their compact size might make them appear gimmicky to some, under-desk ellipticals can perform just as effective as other types of workout.

The moderate cardio physical activity you can get from this device is just enough to burn calories, build up leg and core muscles, pump up blood and turn 30-60 minutes of straight sitting into an excellent workout. Here are other pros of under-desk ellipticals:

  • Inexpensive compared to other similar devices
  • Easier to use than recumbent or stationary bikes
  • Put less pressure on knees and joints
  • Enable multitasking and save valuable time
  • Improve calorie burning and muscle toning
  • Time-saving and easily portable
  • Operate quietly
  • Don’t require almost any assembly and adjustment

On the other hand, mini ellipticals are not for everyone, especially advanced workout enthusiasts who are looking for a full-body workout, high-intensity cardio, and versatility in training. Simply put, if you have the time and means to go to the gym, investing in a device like this wouldn’t probably pay off. Other cons of compact ellipticals include:

  • Not as effective as traditional workout equipment
  • Require more extended usage for remarkable results
  • May be distracting for some when used simultaneously with other work

Additional benefits of under-desk ellipticals

These machines became famous for their ingenious use at the office, but do compact ellipticals work at home too?

Senior users who have joint problems or are recovering from knee surgery can definitely benefit from a compact elliptical. Unlike cycling, pedal rotations on an elliptical are shorter and quicker, enabling an effective low-impact workout without straining the knees and ankles. It also mimics the position of a recumbent bike, so people with back problems can lay back in a comfortable seating position and spin for more than an hour without pain and too much effort.

On top of that, multitasking proved to be beneficial for boosting focus and increasing productivity, which leads to better results at learning and achieving goals. Therefore, don’t get surprised if you notice improvements in concentration and efficiency at work while using the elliptical.

How many calories can I burn with an under-desk elliptical?

Low-intensity long-distance cycling is an optimal cardio workout, which is why under-desk ellipticals are great for healthy and effortless weight loss.

Most brands on the market promise their mini ellipticals can burn around 100-300 calories during a 1-hour workout, depending on the RPM.

If you commit to a half-hour intense elliptical training every day (burning 150 calories), then in one week you will burn 1,050 calories just by using this little gadget. Add some simple arm and torso exercises to the equation and you can burn even more without noticing any tremendous changes to your daily routine. If you stick to a healthy and calorie-limited diet and do these exercises at the same time, it’s very likely you will start losing weight.


A valid question emerges in the end – Are under-desk ellipticals worth it?
People who lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle with little or no time for their physical health can indeed make good use of this device. Since they are so straightforward to use, low-impact, and convenient for basically any space, they are safe for people of all ages, even those who need mild exercising due to injuries, joint pain, and similar.

Under-desk ellipticals range from $30/£25 to more than $300/£230, so you can pick a more affordable model just to try it out or opt for a high-end machine if you’re up for a challenge. All in all, mini ellipticals proved to pay off in the long run and are certainly worth considering.

Author Bio
Sofia Alves is a fitness enthusiast who loves running and motivating others to adopt and stick to healthy habits. She is always learning, searching and investing in further education to build her knowledge. She strongly believes the worst workout is the one you didn’t bother to do.

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