Many of my clients have desk jobs where they spend many hours every day sitting down with hardly any opportunity to move.
One great way to get some low impact workout mobility into your day is with a mini elliptical.
It could allow you to burn calories for weight loss goals or just help avoid your joints getting stiff.
Unfortunately, there are many ellipticals that show signs of wear and tear even under modest levels of use.
So, we worked with some of our clients to get some real-world feedback and come up with this list of best under desk ellipticals.
Our Top Under Desk Ellipticals (February 2023)
1 - DeskCycle (Editor's Choice)
The reason we picked this as the top option is that you may notice that it makes hardly any noise.
That might not be a big issue in a home office on your own, but it could be important if you don’t want to distract colleagues.
And it seems to stay quiet at all 8 resistance levels.
- Removable display monitor to place on a desk stand
- Positive comments about the whisper-quiet magnetic resistance
- Easy to adjust tension knob with 8 resistance levels
- Smooth motion and good angle make it easier to extend your exercise time
- The calorie counting data seems to be a bit off
We just found that the calorie calculation seemed to be a bit high compared to some of the other devices we used.
2 - Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical
The Cubii Pro is great if you like to keep track of all your activity on your smartphone as it seems to easily sync over Bluetooth.
We also liked the magnetic resistance, which seems to give you a smooth motion and a good selection of adjustable resistance levels.
The only thing we noted in a few reviews is that the Cubii Pro seems to slip a bit if you push yourself a bit harder
- Easily sync with your smartphone or Fitbit
- Large foot pedals make it suitable for all shoe sizes
- Smooth motion from the compact design makes hardly any noise
- Some better anti-slip rubber underneath the machine would be great
3 - MagneTrainer
This mini elliptical trainer has an LCD display that you might easily take off and place next to your computer screen on a desk stand to keep track of your training progress.
It seems to be whisper quiet even when you train at the higher settings. And unlike many others in this price range, it doesn't seem to wobble
- The LCD display is detachable to place in better eye view
- Sturdy steel frame avoids it wobbling while in use
- Good selection of tension settings to hit different exercise levels
- At higher intensity settings, you could end up pushing it away
We just noted that you might notice it shifting away from you a bit if you put it on the highest setting.
4 - Sunny Health & Fitness
This seated under desk elliptical machine has an easily accessible resistance switch, so you may be able to adjust it quickly for more flexible exercising.
The non-slip design means that it might not move around too much, and several people have commented online that it seems secure even when pushing it a bit harder.
- 8 levels of resistance seem to be easily accessible
- Convenient carry handle makes it easier to store away
- Non-slip textured pedals provides a better training experience
- It’s a bit bulkier, making it less suitable to store under the desk
The only thing we thought could be improved is that it’s a bit bigger than all the other models we tested.
5 - Stamina InMotion Elliptical Machine
We like this elliptical trainer because it has a compact enough design that may allow you to keep it under your desk without getting in the way.
You might also like the gradual tension settings to get to just the right level for your personal needs and goals.
The main thing we think could be improved is the monitor, which is a bit limited and not easy to check your training data.
- Gradual adjustable tension knob gives you more training flexibility
- Non-slip pedals seem large enough to suit even larger feet
- Nice and compact design makes it suitable to store under your desk
- The monitor is a bit limited and not detachable
6 - Ativafit
Another one of the desk ellipticals with a good ergonomic design, which may make it a lot easier to keep your normal seated position.
We also liked that it’s a very solid machine that you could also use while standing up.
That could give you the opportunity to get to some higher intensity for cardio sessions.
But even when you use it sitting down, you should notice good strain on your calf muscles as well.
- Good ergonomic design with textured pedals for better traction
- Solid frame makes it suitable for use while sitting or standing
- Good adjustable resistance range to work your thighs and calves
- It makes the occasional squeaking noise
We just noticed that sometimes it makes a bit of noise under higher speeds.
7 - Ancheer
Here’s another elliptical trainer that has many people commenting online that it’s quiet enough not to distract you or any colleagues around you.
It’s also light enough to pick up once you’re finished with it to store out of the way.
Oh, and don’t ignore the fact that the motion in both directions might add some diversity to your exercises.
This might seem like a small bonus, but you’ll notice the difference in your leg muscles.
- Positive reviews about the quiet motion even at higher resistance settings
- Compact, lightweight, and portable
- Allows for forward and backward pedaling
- The instructions for the program modes are not very clear
It does have some program modes, but the instructions don’t make it clear what each of them is for.
8 - FitDesk
This was our favorite one of the FitDesk desk ellipticals, and we liked that it has a big handle that you might find easier to grip onto when changing the intensity.
The monitor has some good information to give you a goal for each exercise you do.
And you can detach it to place it on your desk where you might see your progress more easily.
- Has an easy to use handle to adjust the resistance
- Monitor can be detached for desktop use to better monitor your progress
- Seems to have a very low pedal height to work with desks as low as 27 inches
- It tends to make some noise at high-intensity settings
Just be aware that a few people have said that it might make a bit of a noise when you’re training a bit harder.
9 - Techmoo
This is one of the simpler elliptical machine options, and it’s mainly designed to help get you to move a bit more and boost your circulation.
Some people have commented that it helps them concentrate better, which might be down to increased blood circulation.
And you also have the option to place it on your desk to get some movement into your arms for more flexible exercises.
- Very simple and light design to get some movement into your legs
- Popular with physiotherapists to help patients recover from injury
- Light enough to use on top of your desk for arm exercises
- Friction resistance is a bit limited
Just keep in mind that if you’re looking for something with higher intensity levels, then this might not be the best option.
10 - Vaunn
The final one of our best under desk elliptical trainer recommendations has a unique feature that might help on swivel chairs.
There is a strap that may make sure that your chair doesn’t move away on its wheels, and there are positive comments that it seems to work well when you peddle faster.
Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have very high resistance, so it might not get you into full exercise mode.
- Gradual adjustable tension gives you more flexibility
- Comes fully assembled and ready to use
- Allows you to strap it to your chair to avoid movement
- Might not be the best for higher intensity desk exercise
There are eight different features that we paid close attention to during our research. And you should consider their importance for your own decision.
1. Pedal Height And Dimensions
The first thing to check is whether the elliptical is low enough to the ground to help you avoid bumping your knees under your desk.
The whole idea should be that you can sit comfortably at your computer while getting the full leg motion under the desk.
But you also want to check the dimensions of the pedals. The better machines we saw have large anti-slip pedals that should help, especially at a higher resistance level.
Believe me, you’ll soon get sick of slippery foot pedals when they disrupt your work.
2. Resistance Type
The first thing I need to say is that you should avoid any type of air resistance. You can find a few ellipticals that use air, but you’ll soon find a big problem with them.
Even when you use them at a low setting, they make quite a bit of noise.
And you’ll quickly become that annoying colleague at the office.
A much better option is to stick with a magnetic resistance as it tends to make practically no noise at all .
We also found that it may give you a much smoother and consistent motion to better exercise your lower body.
3. Resistance Levels
You absolutely need at least a few different adjustable resistance levels. On some days, you might just want to trigger a bit of movement in your legs to avoid your joints stiffening up.
But on other days, you might want to get your heart rate up a bit.
I’ve heard from clients that they sometimes turn up the intensity on their desk cycle when they get into some more heated discussions.
Our top recommendation above has 8 resistance levels, and that should give you enough to even use it for some light cardio .
“Anything that boosts your heart rate has benefits for both mental and physical health, research has shown.”
- Erin Brodwin, Senior health and tech reporter at Business Insider.
It might be just what you need to prepare for an important meeting.
4. Training Display Monitor
Some of the best under desk elliptical trainers that we tested out all had a decent LCD display.
This doesn’t mean a screen that you could watch movies on, but just a simple way to show you some training data.
Ideally, this should include strides per minute, distance, and calories burned.
After each of your mini desk workouts, you could take note of how much you did to keep track of your progress.
Also, you might want to consider one of the above options that may allow smartphone connection so you can automatically sync your exercise data with all your other activity for the day.
5. Foldable Design And Storage
Some of the really basic models may allow you to completely fold it down for easier storage.
But even if you choose one of the more advanced ones, you shouldn’t ignore the ability to store it somewhere.
Unless you have a large desk, you might need to be able to move it out of the way, and the bulkier the elliptical is, the more difficult that might become.
And we all know what happens when you have to go out of your way to start exercising.
It happens less and less.
6. Multi-Use Functions
Some of the desk cycle models tend to be suitable for exercising your legs and arms.
But I personally think that there are easier ways to get your arms moving with some simple desk yoga  or stretching exercises.
I prefer ellipticals that allow you to use them sitting or standing.
When you get into a standing position, you could be in a position to really get your heart pumping.
But you might want to find an empty meeting room to not annoy your colleagues.
7. Price And Warranty
So, I always tell people to be careful and not just focus on the price.
In some cases, you simply cannot beat the quality that comes with a higher price tag, but then there’s always the highly branded devices where you pay for the name rather than functionality.
What I would recommend is to set yourself a price target range and then look at the other features above and decide which ones might be important for you.
Then, find the models that catch all your requirements before you start comparing prices and warranty.
Benefits Of Using An Under Desk Elliptical
There are four key benefits that an elliptical at work may provide.
1. Burn Extra Calories
A simple desk bike or elliptical will get your muscles moving, and that will inevitably increase your calories burned.
For most desk jockeys, burning off physical energy is a problem as they simply cannot get away from their desk for long enough.
You’ll be surprised how much more energy you’ll burn by scheduling two to three 20-minute sessions each day.
2. Avoid Stress On Joints
A pedal exerciser is a great way to introduce low impact exercises that target different muscles and joints in your legs.
Many people who spend most of the day sitting might end up with sore or stiff joints, and you don’t want to aggravate those issues.
Whether you use your elliptical in a sitting or standing position, it significantly promotes leg movement that reduces pressure on your hips, knees, and ankles.
3. Improve Heart Health
While it’s mainly your lower body that gets worked out, you may notice some huge benefits for your heart over time.
Most people that spend all day at a desk, then get in the elevator to their car to drive home and sit on the couch, and never get their heart to pump a bit harder.
You don’t even need to break into a sweat to slightly raise your heart rate and improve its long term functionality .
4. Boost Brain Function
There have been enough studies that confirmed a link between exercise and improved brain function .
Not surprisingly, this has led many large corporations to encourage their staff to do some light cardio during office hours.
It could lead to lower levels of stress, more creativity, and less frequent sick days.
And employees who do even a small amount of exercise during the day tend to feel happier.
“Stressed out employees have trouble focusing, thinking clearly, and making rational decisions. Reports show exercise helps improve mental health by providing clarity to better handle stress effectively.”
- Alan Kohll, Contributor at Forbes.com.
Can You Lose Weight With an Under-Desk Elliptical?
Yes, you can lose weight with an under-desk elliptical, but it depends on how much you exercise and your diet. If you’re making your way through a box of donuts and only use the desk elliptical once a day, you won’t see much happening on the weighing scales.
Which Is Better: An Elliptical or Bike Under the Desk?
An elliptical is better than a bike under the desk because it helps you target your calf muscles better. You may also find the movement more suitable than an exercise bike as it targets all your leg joints satisfactorily.
Do Under Desk Exercisers Work?
Yes, under-desk exercisers work. They can be an excellent option for people who spend most of their day at a desk. They target the lower body, and if you switch them up to higher intensity settings, you could even get in a light cardio workout.
Does an Under-Desk Elliptical Burn Belly Fat?
An under-desk elliptical may burn belly fat if you work at a high enough intensity. You’ll also need to ensure that you eat a healthy calorie deficit diet to burn off some of the unwanted love handles.
Our #1 Recommended Under Desk Elliptical
Based on a vote from 20 different clients and colleagues, we decided to put the DeskCycle model at the top of our list of best under desk elliptical machines.
You simply cannot beat the whisper-quiet resistance, and many people have commented that they use it without anyone actually noticing.
Order yours today and share your experience with us on our social media pages.
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