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Recently, I’ve wondered why the heck my knees are so achy after work. But then, it dawned on me: I literally sit cross-legged in a stiff desk chair for eight hours per day. Sometimes we really are our own worst enemy. In an effort to stop hurting my own knees in my early twenties, I’ve begun to use desk exercise equipment to keep my legs moving.
Maybe you don’t cross your legs in an office chair during the work day like you’re a kindergartener at story time. Cool, but you still could likely use some extra movement throughout the day. In fact, a study1 by BMC Public Health has even shown that “sedentary time accounts for 81.8% of work hours” for those who work a desk job. Even using a piece of desk exercise equipment during one meeting per day can help reduce sedentary time. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get to pedaling (or stepping)!
Takin’ Care of (Your) Business
At Garage Gym Reviews, we know how to take care of business and get things done. Whether you’re wanting a stellar pair of adjustable dumbbells or an under-desk treadmill, we have you covered. After all, we’re on a mission to help you find the best exercise equipment on the market.
This looks like actually using the products we talk about and analyzing the equipment’s specs against industry standards. GGR is all business (well, and a little bit of play)––after all, we’re certified personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and former college athletes. Fitness is what we know best.
4 Best Pieces of Desk Exercise Equipment
- Best Desk Elliptical: Cubii JR Under-Desk Elliptical
- Best Under-Desk Treadmill: Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill
- Best Foldable Under-Desk Treadmill: Goplus 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill
- Best Desk Bike: DeskCycle 2 Under-Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser
Best Desk Elliptical: Cubii JR Under-Desk Elliptical
Good for: Someone who needs a quiet piece of desk exercise equipment
Best Desk Elliptical
- Under-the-desk, compact mini elliptical that is ergonomically designed allowing you to workout while you sit
- 8 levels of resistance
- Built-in LCD display allows you to track progress with key fitness metrics including calories burned, distance traveled, RPM, and minutes active
- Portable and lightweight allowing you to pedal away at work or at home
- Free access to Cubii Studio+ for live and on demand workouts
- Cubii Communitii allows you to connect with other Cubii users
Pros & Cons
- Budget friendly
- 8 levels of resistance
- Free access to live and on-demand classes
- Resistance is mediocre
- Reports it is noisier than advertised
The Cubii JR is a versatile piece of workout equipment. Although I currently use mine as a traditional under-desk elliptical during the work day, it can also be a great option for seniors. My grandfather uses his Cubii JR to keep the blood flowing in his legs while watching television. It’s a great alternative to a traditional elliptical for those who have balance issues (since you have to sit down while using it).
The Cubii JR has eight different levels of resistance, which can be adjusted via the knob on the front of the machine. You’ll also be able to view a few different specs on the small LCD monitor (like calories burned, distance traveled, time elapsed, RPM, and number of strides taken).
It is worth noting that you can’t (or rather shouldn’t) stand on this elliptical while you’re using it. It is solely meant to be used while sitting in a chair. However, Cubii still gives a weight capacity of 250 pounds (which is under the industry standard, I might add). I don’t actually think this is a hard and fast cut off, especially considering you won’t be putting the entirety of your weight on the machine if you’re sitting.
Want to learn more? Read our full Cubii Jr review.
|Dimensions||22” L x 11.5” W x 11.5” H|
Best Under-Desk Treadmill: Sunny Health and Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill
Good for: Slow and steady walking during the work day
Best Under-Desk Treadmill
- Easy to move
- Stable and doesn't move in use
- Under $500
- Arrives at your door assembled
Pros & Cons
- Under $300
- Multiple safety features
- Very sturdy
- Compatible with the SunnyFit app
- Comes fully assembled
- 3-year warranty
- 220-pound user weight capacity
- 1.5 horsepower
The Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat treadmill clocks in at just under $330 and is well worth the money. Although I’m not coordinated enough to type both coherent thoughts and walk at a sloth’s pace, that doesn’t mean the same is true for you.
If you already have a standing desk at your disposal, this under-desk treadmill will likely work well for you. It is incredibly sturdy and unmoving, even when placed on carpet.
I also enjoyed the convenient remote, which can be used to change your treadmill’s speed. Although you certainly won’t be running on this Sunny Health and Fitness treadmill, it can go up to 3.75 MPH, which is a brisk walk for most.
If you constantly work from different places around your house, you’ll be able to move this treadmill with ease to your desired location. At just 55.1 pounds, the Sunny Health and Fitness Walkstation is fairly lightweight and has included transport wheels.
On the downside, this treadmill has a small deck (and I’m talking really small). At just 39 inches in length, you may have to take smaller and more calculated steps then you’re used to on most treadmills.
|Dimensions||50” L x 21.5” W x 6.5” H|
|Warranty||3-year manufacturer warranty and 90-day parts|
Best Foldable Under-Desk Treadmill: Goplus 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill
Good for: Someone who wants a foldable handle on their treadmill
Best Foldable Under-Desk Treadmill
- Folding treadmill
- Available on Amazon
- 1100-watt motor
Pros & Cons
- Compact and foldable
- Very affordable
- Device holder
- Confusing and vague assembly instructions
- Lower user weight capacity
- Water bottle holders very small
The Goplus 2-in-1 can be used as both an under-desk walking machine and a treadmill for jogging or running. How is that the case, you may ask? Well, the Goplus 2-in-1 features a foldable handle, which can take this treadmill from a piece of desk exercise equipment to a regular machine in a flash. Plus, the speed range on this treadmill is quite a bit higher than most under-desk machines––the Goplus has a maximum speed of 7.5 MPH, which translates to a fast run for most people.
I like that this treadmill can be stored underneath beds, in closets, and underneath some couches. Once the handle is folded down, the Goplus is almost completely flat, which makes storage a breeze. Plus, this machine also features two transport wheels to help with the moving process.
It is worth noting that this machine isn’t made for heavy-duty usage, especially considering the three-month warranty. Founder of GGR Cooper Mitchell owns a Goplus, and has some thoughts about the motor.
“The motor bogs down if too much weight is on the belt and it can have problems starting if you’re on the belt before getting it moving,” Cooper explains. “However, for the price, I think the durability matches.”
For a full look on this machine, read our Goplus treadmill review.
|Dimensions||52” L x 27” W x 5” H|
Best Desk Bike: DeskCycle 2 Under-Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser
Good for: Those looking for a stable, mini exercise bike
Best Desk Bike
- Features smooth pedal motion
- Whisper-quiet magnetic resistance with a precision flywheel
- Adjustable pedal height with minimal height of 9”
- Adjustable straps for personalized fit on the stay-flat pedals
- Magnetic resistance technology offers eight settings to vary intensity
- 5-function removable LCD display with included display stand
- Fitbit and Apple Watch compatible
Pros & Cons
- Magnetic resistance
- Adjustable pedal height and straps
- Range of resistance
- Compatible with smart watches
- Monitor is removable
- People with larger feet may find the pedals too small
The DeskCycle 2 is an under-desk peddler that can be adjusted to fit the height of your desk. According to the DeskCycle product page on Amazon, as long as your desk is at least 27 inches tall, you’ll be able to use this bike underneath your desk.
GGR editor and certified personal trainer Nicole Davis gave the DeskCycle 2 a go and was pretty pleased with its performance.
“Both the pedal height and straps are adjustable,” Nicole shares. “It also claims to have the lowest pedal height of any mini bike out there so it fits more desks.”
“I’m not sure if this is true, but I am able to use it fairly comfortably under my desk, which is pretty short. But, I’m also short, so take that with a grain of salt,” Nicole quips.
Nicole did mention that although the assembly process for the DeskCycle 2 was easy, the included batteries were dented, so she had to use her own to power the display. She also brought up that the footprint of the peddler was slightly larger than she was expecting.
“It weighs 23 pounds, so not super heavy, but there isn’t a handle or any easy way to pick it up and carry it around, so it is a bit awkward,” Nicole explains. “It’s also long-ish in my opinion—about 2 feet. I have a really slim desk and it definitely sticks out when I’m using it.”
|Dimensions||22.5” L x 11.5” W x 11” H|
Other Products We Researched/Tested
Vive Under-Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser: The Vive Under-Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser didn’t win any new fans with GGR writer (and certified personal trainer) Lauren Strong.
“It’s such a simple little pedaler with a lot of potential, but one pedal feels sticky and the more you crank up the resistance the more obvious it is,” Lauren explained. “The pedals also don’t feel equal in resistance.”
Hausse Portable Exercise Pedal Bike: Tester (and Head of Content) Kate Meier was not impressed with this under-$65 peddler.
“This has so much play back and forth on it,” Kate shared. “It comes with a strap that you can tie around the pedaler and to a chair, but it’s a super cheap buckle and it doesn’t really help much.”
LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk: Although tester Lauren Strong loves her LifeSpan treadmill, it is an expensive option at $1,500, which doesn’t make it a great choice for the majority of people.
“It’s also pretty large and heavy for an under-the-desk piece of equipment,” Lauren shared. “It is kind of a pain in the butt to move around, so I don’t store it.”
How We Picked and Tested
We used the following criteria to judge the best desk exercise equipment.
- Price: How expensive is this exercise machine? Would it be considered a budget, mid-range, or high-end option?
- Dimensions: What are the dimensions of this machine? How large or small is this machine? Would it be considered compact and will it fit under most desks or in most home offices?
- Type of cardio equipment: Is this an exercise bike, a stepper, a pedaler, an under-desk elliptical, or an under-desk treadmill?
- Resistance options: Does this machine have any resistance options? If so, how many? What type of resistance does this machine have? Is it magnetic resistance?
- Foldability: Does this machine fold at all?
- Extras: Does this machine have any extras like Bluetooth connectivity, a heart rate monitor, or compatible interactive programming?
- Display: What type of display does this machine have? Is it a touchscreen, LED,or LCD display?
- Pedals: How large are the pedals? Are they texturered, oversized, or cushioned?
Benefits of Desk Exercise Equipment
Certified personal trainer and GGR writer Anthony O’Reilly is a staunch advocate for movement––no matter what form that takes. Here’s what he had to say about the benefits of extra movement (and under-desk exercise equipment):
“At the end of the day, any movement is better than no movement,” Anthony explains. “Under-desk cardio equipment, whether that’s a pedaler or treadmill, can help make you more active throughout the day.”
“This can not only help you meet the federally recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week that helps prevent weight gain and certain health disorders, but also expend pent-up energy that might keep you up at night,” Anthony adds.
“Under-desk cardio equipment comes in all shapes and sizes and there’s machines that can work for small desks as well as standing desks.”
Buying Guide: What to Look for in Desk Exercise Equipment
Before getting your hands on a new piece of desk exercise equipment, I encourage you to consider these three things:
As you would with a normal piece of home gym equipment, you should always measure your space ahead of time. You should also ensure that you have the appropriate amount of clearance for your legs to comfortably move underneath your desk.
Luckily, the actual footprint of most desk exercise equipment is compact, but you should still be mindful of the space needed.
Consider your budget ahead of time. Although the majority of under-desk exercise equipment aren’t as pricey as traditional cardio machines, they can still add up. If you’re looking for ways to save a few bucks, check for coupons and promo codes. You can also wait for Black Friday deals, as prices usually dip to the lowest of the year around this time.
Don’t want to wait and can’t find a coupon? Don’t sweat it. These days, most retailers offer some type of financing option (if you qualify) that can break a large payment into smaller chunks.
Type of Cardio Machine
Prior to choosing a piece of desk exercise equipment, it is important to consider the type of work you do. For example, if you’re a graphic designer or someone who does in-depth, focused work, an under-desk peddler may be your best bet.
For those who do more repetitive tasks or frequently take meetings, an under-desk treadmill may work best. As a writer, I realized I wasn’t able to walk on a treadmill while typing coherent thoughts. Thus, I chose to use the Cubii JR1, which is an under-desk elliptical machine. Figure out which type of machine is the most conducive to the work you do, and stick with it.
Best Desk Exercise Equipment FAQs
What is the best under-the-desk workout equipment?
Here are our favorite pieces of under-desk workout equipment:
Best Desk Elliptical: Cubii JR1 Under Desk Elliptical
Best Under-Desk Treadmill: Sunny Health & Fitness Walkstation Slim Flat Treadmill
Best Foldable Under-Desk Treadmill: Goplus 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill
Best Budget Desk Elliptical: Stamina Inmotion Elliptical
Best Desk Bike: DeskCycle 2 Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser
Do under-desk elliptical machines really work?
Let’s get one thing straight: You won’t burn calories by the thousands on an under-desk elliptical. This just isn’t a realistic expectation. However, if you’re looking for a machine to reduce your sedentariness during the work day, or get a quick home workout in, an under-desk elliptical could be great for you.
Are under-desk exercisers worth it?
For those who work a desk job, having an under-desk exerciser can be a great way to get more movement during the day. If you’re someone who finds themselves getting stiff due to lack of movement, grabbing an under-desk treadmill, elliptical, or desk exercise bike can be beneficial for your health and wellness (plus, even keep you engaged in your work).
Is an under-desk exerciser going to help me reach my fitness goals?
An under-desk exercise machine isn’t a replacement for strength training, but it can be an aid in increasing your cardiovascular output. Obviously, using an under-desk elliptical machine while sitting in an office chair won’t give you the same effect as sprinting on a Peloton Tread. However, it can still be a good way to keep the blood flowing in your lower body and stay engaged in your work at-hand.
- Parry, S., Straker, L. The contribution of office work to sedentary behavior associated risk. BMC Public Health 13, 296 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-13-296
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Recently, I’ve wondered why the heck my knees are so achy after work. But then, it dawned on me: I literally sit cross-legged in a stiff desk chair for eight hours per day. Sometimes we really are our own worst enemy. In an effort to stop hurting my own knees in my early twenties, I’ve begun to use desk exercise equipment to keep my legs moving. Maybe you don’t cross your legs in an office chair during the work day like you’re a kindergartener at story time. » Read more about: Best Desk Exercise Equipment: Get Your Blood Pumping (And Not Just From Work Stress) » Read more