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, which I knew was not healthy. That is until I started using under desk exercise equipment.
According to all recent research, sitting with our legs under the desk for long periods of time destroys health and shortens lives. We don’t burn enough calories, muscles atrophy, and we get stiff. That leads to 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 that will increase your flexibility, mobility, endurance, and health. 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.
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.
Here is the best equipment and gadgets I’ve found to use at my desk:
Under Desk Bike Reviews
I like keeping a mini exercise bike or elliptical machine under my desk. If I were using these to lose weight, I would naturally pedal hard 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.
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. 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 something light enough to easily kick around and carry. I want sturdiness and lightweight in the same machine.
Vive Desk 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
- Weighs less than 3 pounds
- Foldable to make it easy to take home or on vacation
- Can be used on top of a desk or table to strengthen arms
- Affordable price
- Small footprint
DeskCycle 2 Under Desk Exercise 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 more resistance range than others. 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 means you find the perfect setting
- 6 function easy to read LCD to view stats
- 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
Under Desk Mini Elliptical Machines
Elliptical machines give you the same benefits as the mini pedalers when it comes to exercising right at your desk. Ellipticals allow 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 circulation without distractions from work, watching TV, or gaming. Pull it out from under your work station and pedal 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 equipment. 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 piece of equipment under their desk that shakes, rattles, and rolls while using it? Not you, and not the person in the next cubicle. Quality means a quite experience that never interrupts.
IDEER LIFE Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical
I’ll be the first to admit that the makers of 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 makes this one of the best elliptical choices.
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 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 exercise 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 – Desk Elliptical
The Cubii Jr Desk Elliptical is my first choice 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. Designed for low to no joint impact and being able to completely forget your legs are constantly moving. The compact size makes it a great way to keep your body in shape, toned, and looking good while concentrating on your job.Cubii Jr Desk Elliptical
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 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 device stands on end for easy storage and comes with 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 physical activity 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 standup desk, a treadmill is a perfect solution. All it takes is the constant motion of slow steady stepping to get the blood flowing.
Exercise Equipment for Your Desk
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 re-balances. 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 disappeared the first day you sit on it. When you open the box your first thought will be that it needs air, but don’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.
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.