According to the American Heart Association, the American workforce has become vastly more sedentary in the last sixty years, with less than 20% of the workforce employed in physically active jobs and sedentary jobs increasing by 83% since the 1950s.
There’s a reason the American Heart Association is keeping score. We are paying the price for that increase in sedentary lifestyle—and yes, considering how much time we spend at work, it is a lifestyle. Failing to stay active is a risk factor in diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, coronary artery disease, and certain types of cancer. Several of these diseases are leading killers–and all are on the rise.
Some workplaces have responded to this statistic by trying to create a more healthy and physically active workforce. Because most companies subsidize their employees’ health insurance in the US, they have some financial interest in making sure their workforce is not constantly hospitalized, as well as a humanitarian interest.
Offices have tried to up the ante on healthy food vendors, offer employee gyms and fitness centers, and even offer personal training, massages, fitness classes, yoga classes–anything to get the workforce’s hearts pumping. Sit-to-stand desks help; standing up and sitting down several times per day facilitates the burning of calories as well as circulation.
Many employees, however, have to take it upon themselves to turn their sedentary working life into an opportunity for action. The under-the-desk elliptical machine is a great compromise. As long as the machine isn’t too noisy, you can slip your feet into the machine and bang out some steps while you work, burning calories while seated at your desk.
You can bring these to the corporate office, use them at your home office, or—best of all—use them while seated at the couch watching Netflix or playing video games. Any time spent seated is fair game to use an under-the-desk elliptical machine.
Here are our picks for the nine best under-the-desk elliptical machines for your office or home office.
1. ANCHEER Under Desk Bike Elliptical Machine
ANCHEER Under Desk Elliptical Cycle,Pedal Exerciser,Under Desk Bike Machine with Built in Display Monitor, Mini Desk Cycle Resistance Exercise Quiet & Compact. Electric Machine Trainer
- App Integration: The eliptical exercise machine integrates with the Qiber fitness app, allowing you to compete with others and take part in a range of fun scenarios.
- Smooth Full-Body Workout: The precision-balanced flywheel and V-belt drive provide smooth and quiet use. The 18-inch stride length is optimal, and the eliptical machine exercise provides all the benefits of running but is easier on the knees and also works the arms.
- Adjustable Magnetic Resistance: This elliptical machine offers 10 levels of magnetic resistance that you can adjust quickly and easily. Suitable for people of all fitness levels.
- Detailed Digital Display: The eliptical machine view detailed information in real-time on distance, speed, calories burned, time, speed, room temperature, and heartrate. Comes with a tablet holder so you can keep yourself entertained during workouts.
- Portable and with Adjustable Non-Slip Foot Pedals: Wheels on the frame make it easy to move around. A detailed assembly guide is provided, along with the tools required. The large foot-pedals are grippy and slip-resistant, and the it comes with 1-year quality assurance. Within the period, we provide free replacement parts.
The ANCHEER elliptical comes in three sporty colors, but even better—it has one of the smallest footprints in the industry and takes up almost no space at all. The unit can operate either unplugged or under power, either forward or in reverse, and at whisper-quiet decibels, with over-sized anti-slip pedals that come with a one-year warranty.
Choose between three automatic and five manual settings to get a full workout while you sit at your desk. The built-in LED display allows you to keep track of your speed, workout time, calories burned, and distance “walked” while you work. You can either use the controls on the unit, or the included remote control, to adjust the settings.
The innovative compact design includes a built-in handle, making the ANCHEER elliptical extra-portable. Note: whether under a desk or not, this elliptical is only safe to use in a seated position.
2. Cubii Pro Seated Under-Desk Elliptical
Cubii Pro - Seated Under-Desk Elliptical - Get Fit While You Sit - Bluetooth Enabled, Sync with FitBit and Apple HealthKit - Whisper-Quiet - Adjustable Resistance - Easy to Assemble
1 used from $314.10
- DESK EXERCISE COMPACT ELLIPTICAL - Designed with ultra-smooth gearing and a compact design, Cubii home ellipticals are ideal for exercising at home or the office without stressing your joints!
- SET & TRACK FITNESS GOALS - The Cubii mobile app syncs with iPhone and Android cellphones, Fitbit smart bands, and Apple Health Kit to track your distance pedaled, calories burnt, and more.
- PORTABLE ELLIPTICAL - Workout while you work or rehab while you rest! The Cubii under desk elliptical is perfect for use at your desk, the couch, or even at your dining room table.
- MINI EXERCISE BIKE - Move a little more and burn up to 125 calories per hour while you pedal and sit with a good book, watch your favorite show, or work at your desk.
- WHISPER-QUIET SEATED ELLIPTICAL - This under desk pedal exerciser is near silent during use so that you won’t disturb your colleagues at work or struggle to hear the TV while you watch!
For lovers of gadgets, the Cubii Pro under-desk elliptical is Bluetooth-enabled and connects to a proprietary mobile app. You can pair the Cubii Pro to an iPhone, Android, Fitbit, or Apple Watch to track fitness goals like steps and calories burned whenever you activate the Cubii Pro.
Meant for seated use, the Cubii Pro offers an excellent cardiovascular workout without putting too much pressure on the joints. Low-profile and quiet enough to use in the office or while watching TV, the Cubii Pro offers eight levels of magnetic resistance and ergonomic design. It comes recommended by the AARP, the Mayo Clinic, TIME Magazine, and Forbes.
3. Cubii Jr. Seated Under-Desk Elliptical
Cubii Jr: Desk Elliptical with Built in Display Monitor, Easy Assembly, Quiet & Compact, Adjustable Resistance (Turquoise)
1 used from $122.63
- COMPACT ELLIPTICAL- Leading compact and ergonomic mini elliptical that lets you workout or rehab while you sit at home or the office.
- REHAB AND FITNESS EXERCISE PEDDLER - The smooth gliding motion can be switched between 8 resistance levels to increase desk exercise as you gain strength.
- WHISPER QUIET MINI EXERCISE BIKE - Enjoy your favorite show, read your current book, and stay productive at work all while you Cubii without the worry of distraction!
- BUILT-IN LCD DISPLAY - The digital monitor allows you to keep up with your progress by tracking calories burned, strides pedaled, distance traveled, and more!
- PORTABLE ELLIPTICAL – The Cubii under desk elliptical allows you to move a little more and burn calories while you pedal at home in the living room or in office at your desk.
Slightly easier on the budget, the Cubii Jr. features many of the same features that make the Cubii Pro so cool. What it doesn’t have is Bluetooth connectivity for use with the Cubii mobile app.
Still, the Cubii Jr. does come with a built-in LCD display, which you can use to track progress markers like calories burned, RPM, and steps even without the app.
4. Sunny Health & Fitness Desk Elliptical Machine
Sunny Health & Fitness Fully Assembled Magnetic Under Desk Elliptical – SF-E3872, Grey
$124.73 in stock
4 used from $77.00
- DIGITAL MONITOR: Track time, speed, calories, and distance using the centrally located digital monitor. Or chose the scan function to scroll through all variable while your workout.
- BELT DRIVE MAGNETIC RESISTANCE: This elliptical pair a belt drive mechanism with magnetic resistance to give you a low maintenance and smooth quiet exercise experience.
- 8 LEVELS OF RESISTANCE: Choose between 8 levels of magnetic resistance using the tension knob to provide increased levels of intensity to your workout as you build muscular endurance.
- COMPACT SIZE: This low profile elliptical will fit under most desks and around your favorite chairs giving you the freedom to exercise while you sit in many different environments.
- EASY TRANSPORTATION – A centrally located transportation handles allows you to move your elliptical with ease.
The Synny Health & Fitness Desk Elliptical Machine is actually safe to use in either standing or seated position. When used seated, this machine provides an excellent aerobic workout. Pull it out from under the desk and stand up to engage muscles in the arms, legs, and core. With a built-in handle and a profile small enough to tuck into the trunk or back seat of a car, this versatile exercise machine goes wherever you go.
The workout is powered by a 12-pound inertia-enhanced flywheel and “unlimited” magnetic resistance—that is, custom-adjustable, rather than segmented into a limited number of fixed settings, allowing you to fine-tune the level of resistance that is right for you.
The inertial resistance offers smooth pedal motion, quiet enough to use in the office without disturbing neighbors. The large anti-slip 14-inch pedals can be used either in forward or reverse to provide a more complete workout, hitting different muscles in the legs and core.
5. FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical Trainer
FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical - Bike Pedal Machine with Magnetic Resistance for Quiet, Fluid Motion - Adjustable Tension with Digital Performance Meter
- WORKS FOR MOST DESKS: The lowest pedal height is under 8 inches pedal rotation height and can work under desks as low as 25 inches.
- QUIET & SMOOTH: Smooth and whisper quiet bicycle pedal motion with balanced flywheel and twin belt drive that let you work without additional office noises. Less noise helps you focus more on work than the exercise itself.
- HANDS-FREE ADJUSTMENT: 8 position magnetic resistance with foot shifter allows you for hands free tension adjustment. Never struggle to lessen or add desired resistance.
- DIGITAL DISPLAY: Digital display meter mounts to the cycle or removes for desktop use. It displays important and vital information like time, speed, current distance, lifetime distance, calories burned and scan
- EXERCISE ANYTIME ANYWHERE: Use at the office or home anytime you're sitting down on the phone, watching TV, playing video games or working. Improve your health with added exercise or use for physical therapy
There’s nothing more annoying than ordering an under-the-desk elliptical machine only to discover that your knees knock into the underside of your desk, making the machine unusable unless you get a higher desk. Return.
FitDesk counters this effect by offering one of the lowest elliptical rises on the market at only eight inches. Most desks offer at least eight inches of knee clearance, making the FitDesk elliptical one of the most versatile and cross-compatible under-the-desk ellipticals on the market. You can use this machine with desks as low as 25 inches.
The FitDesk machine uses magnetic resistance with eight settings for you to choose from to customize your workout. The hands-free setting dial allows you to change settings with your toe if you need to dial the resistance either up or down.
This unit also features whisper-quiet resistance and oversized footrests so you don’t fall victim to the second-most annoying problem with an under-the-desk elliptical machine—your feet constantly falling out. It also includes a six-function digital display so you can keep track of your stats and progress. All this at a remarkably affordable price.
6. GoPlus 2 in 1 Desk Electric Elliptical Machine Trainer
Goplus 2 in 1 Under Desk Elliptical Stepper, Resistance Adjustable, More Stable with Heavier Weight, Portable Mini Magnetic Step Machine, Compact Strider
$159.99 in stock
- Ergonomic Design for Safety and Comfort -- This Stepper is designed with two large, non-slip textured pedals to secure your feet. The elliptical motion protects your knee joints from injuries. This portable machine can be used for a workout either while seated or standing making it very flexible and convenient.
- Flywheels Combined with Silent Belt Drive -- The balanced flywheel creates more momentum for a longer time allowing you to go for longer distance creating real outdoors jogging experience. Furthermore, silent belt drive mechanism ensures smooth and whisper-quiet operation so you can workout discretely without disturbing anybody around you.
- Adjustable Tension Levels for the Different Motion -- This elliptical stepper has an excellent tension control system allowing you to adjust the tension level manually for an easier or more difficult workout. With a tension knob step adjustment you can stimulate the exercise effects of real jogging and climbing. Thus this elliptical stepper meets the speed, strength and endurance requirements of a wide variety of users.
- LCD Display Monitor to Track Exercise Data -- This stepper is equipped with an easy-to-read LCD screen for keeping track of your motion parameters in real time, such as time, speed, distance, and calories. You will be able to see your exercise results keeping you motivated directly.
- Easy to Carry and Store -- Featuring compact and lightweight design with two bottom transport wheels this stepper is quite easy for you to transport this elliptical stepper to home or office space. When you finish the exercise, you can put it in the corner or under your table or desk.
Goplus modifies a popular under-the-desk elliptical design with leg-protection brackets. This is the ideal under-the-desk elliptical for persons recovering from injuries or surgeries localized in the foot, ankle, or shin. Elliptical training is low-impact, but overuse of healing joints or muscles could exacerbate injuries and impede healing. The Goplus desk elliptical is perfect for people in the midst of rehabilitation to use for leg and cardiovascular exercise and to promote circulation.
Other than the leg braces, the Goplus trainer includes many features that discerning buyers look for in an under-the-desk elliptical machine, including dual-direction functionality and eight adjustable resistance settings—three automatic, three manual. LED display readouts communicate calories burned, resistance level, speed and distance travelled.
The oversized anti-slip pedals are backed by a one-year warranty, and the sturdy chassis includes a carrying handle so you can take this joint-friendly, under-the-desk elliptical machine anywhere and get a safe, challenging workout while you work, watch TV, or do anything else you might do from a seated position.
7 . Bionic Desk Elliptical Machine with Resistance Bands
Bionic Body Magnetic Tension Under-Desk Elliptical Mini Stepper Trainer with Resistance Tubes NS-1009, One Size
$123.91 in stock
5 used from $114.00
- ALL-IN-ONE-WORKOUT STATION –With the NS-1009, avoid switching between workout stations to train your upper and lower body simultaneously. This equipment works as stepper as well as mini elliptical while the resistance tubes provide upper body workouts
- ADJUSTABLE RESISTANCE LEVER – Designed for fitness enthusiasts of all skill levels, this step machine comes with lever for turning the resistance up and down, so you can tailor your training to your fitness level and strengthen different muscle groups.
- COMPACT FORM FOR MULTIPLE TRAINING POSITIONS – Designed to provide with comfortable and efficient training sessions, this heavy-duty stepper for exercise boasts a compact and versatile structure that lets you train while sitting or standing.
- ELECTRONIC MONITOR TO TRACK PROGRESS – The NS-1009 Elliptical Trainer has an ultra-functional LCD computer screen that acts as odometer so you can monitor your strides per minute, total strides, time elapsed, and calories burned.
- SLIP-RESISTANT PEDALS – This workout stepper has sturdy, non-slip pedals that provide maximum support to your feet. The wide base offers ample space for your feet so you can find most comfortable position for your body and ensure superior footing.
The Bionic Desk Elliptical is not the lowest-profile under-the-desk elliptical in the world, but it has an excellent array of the bells, whistles, and sophisticated features expected in such a machine. The extra-large footrests feature U-groove rollers that run on four tracks for an extra-long, extra-smooth step in either forward or backward directions at eight different levels of resistance.
The track operation helps the machine operate at a whisper-quiet 20 decibels or lower and with less wear-and-tear. If you want an under-the-desk elliptical that is built to last, this machine is the way to go.
Safe to use either standing or sitting, the Bionic Desk Elliptical does not need to be plugged into a power source to operate. Instead, the LED display and resistance operate under the power of inexpensive and easy-to-obtain AAA batteries. This independent power source allows the Bionic to be used anywhere in the room or even outdoors if you want to take the Bionic on the road with its built-in carrying handle. The eight resistance settings can be changed with a toe-operated lever, allowing for hands-free operation.
Additionally, the Bionic comes with resistance bands that clip onto the unit, allowing you to increase the involvement of your arms and shoulders while operating the Bionic in standing position. This makes the Bionic one of the most portable, reversible, and complete full-body exercise machines on the market.
Manufactured by AOMAS, the Bionic Desk Elliptical comes with a lifetime warranty.
8. ZINRAY Sunny Health Under Desk & Stand Up Exercise Bike
ZINRAY Under Desk Elliptical Machine, Seated/Stand Up Mini Elliptical for Home or Office
$149.99 in stock
1 used from $102.85
- 【2 in 1 Design】 Ideal for sitting or standing up workout. The standing position promotes fast paddling and whole-body exercises, whereas the seated position helps leg toning. You can keep exercising whether you are watching TV in the living room, or drinking coffee, working in the office. Good to enhance your physical health and relieve stress.
- 【Multifunctional LCD Monitor】 Record your workout performance on distance, time, calories burnt while you are training, so you can keep track of workout effect and optimize the next one effectively based on data. The LCD screen comes with the battery that can be used for a long time.
- 【Whisper Quiet Operation】 Ergonomic gearing provides quiet and smooth operation. No worry about disturbing others even uses in the home or office.
- 【Sturdy Construction】 The heavy-duty steel construction with a stable base and anti-slid rubber design ensures high sturdiness and safety. It can support a maximum weight of 250 lbs.
- 【Improve Athletic Performance】 Use this elliptical machine to warm up before strenuous exercise to reduce the risk of injury to the legs, or for exercise rehabilitation to improve blood circulation and prevent muscle atrophy. Help you stay active and get stronger.
ZINRAY makes a tank of a machine built to stand the test of time. The elliptical stair-stepping action is powered by a hydraulic transmission system. Hydraulic resistance is a technological wonder, capable of providing significant resistance across a remarkably small surface area.
The resistance is controlled by a tension knob, which allows you to customize your resistance rather than being locked into fixed resistance settings. And at only 24 pounds, the Sunny Health elliptical machine is portable enough to carry and toss in the trunk of a car to operate anywhere.
The frame is made of solid steel, with a weight tolerance of over 300 pounds. In standing position and at high resistance levels, it provides excellent exercise for the glutes, calves, quads, thighs, and core. Attach the included handheld resistance bands and you can add biceps and shoulders into the mix. In a seated position, with the remarkably low-profile machine tucked under the desk, the Sunny Health unit provides excellent cardiovascular conditioning while you work, play, or watch TV. A built-in LED display allows you to monitor and track stats like calories burned, speed, distance, and resistance.
9. DeskCycle 2 Under Desk & Stand Up Exercise Bike
DeskCycle 2 Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser with Adjustable Leg - Mini Exercise Bike Desk Cycle, Leg Exerciser for Physical Therapy & Desk Exercise
4 used from $133.38
- Smooth & Silent: Our patented under desk bike uses premium magnetic resistance for an extra smooth pedal motion. This is easier on your joints and whisper-quiet, so you won't bother those around you
- Drop It Low: DeskCycle 2 mini exercise bike is adjustable. Drop it down to 9" for the lowest max pedal height of any desk bike pedal exerciser on the market! Works with desks as low as 27" for people 5'10" & under
- Level-Up: With more than twice the resistance range of other mini exercise bikes, our 8 settings range from very easy to really hard. Great for using as physical therapy equipment.
- Keep It Simple: Our desk bike is user friendly. The large 5-function LCD display tracks speed, distance & more. For easy reading, place the monitor on your table with the included display stand.
- Great Gift: Looking for a thoughtful gift? Our under desk bike is ideal as desk exercise equipment, leg exercise bikes for seniors, and perfect for anyone who wants to get more active.
Many under-the-desk elliptical machines use magnetic resistance to create a challenging workout. The DeskCycle 2 Under Desk elliptical machine is one of several on this list that instead uses hydraulic resistance, which utilizes the resistance created by liquids under pressure. This pressure can be massive even over small surfaces, resulting in a highly challenging workout in a remarkably compact machine.
Hydraulic resistance on the DeskCycle 2 can be calibrated with a tension knob, micro-adjustable so you can find the perfect resistance for your under-the-desk workout. The DeskCycle 2 is also safe to use in an upright position, a position you can leverage to engage your core and even weighted resistance exercises with your arms and shoulders. In seated position, the DeskCycle 2 provides excellent low-impact cardiovascular training to increase stamina, endurance, circulation, and concentration.
The non-slip steel chassis is durable and safe to use on either carpeted or hard floors and features a multi-touch LCD display screen that you can easily toggle to view time, resistance level, distance, and calories burned.
How to Pick the Right Under-The-Desk Elliptical Machine
Many under-the-desk elliptical machines are not cheap. If you’re going to the trouble of shopping for one, you probably want it to last. Here are some criteria to consider in order to make the best-informed decision about which under-the-desk elliptical is right for you.
Probably the worst outcome would be to discover that you had purchased an expensive under-the-desk elliptical machine, only to have your knees bump into the desk with every step. Not good.
If you have an adjustable chair and a sit-to-stand adjustable desk, obviously this isn’t a problem. It’s also not a problem if you intend to use the elliptical machine while sitting on your sofa watching TV or playing video games.
However, if you mean to use an under-the-desk elliptical under an actual desk, and if the desk is fixed at a specific height, you need to check the step clearance of any under-the-desk elliptical you consider buying. Many products list their step clearance height in the product description.
All that is left is to find a ruler or measuring tape and measure how many inches below the desktop your knees usually sit. Some desks have as little as five inches of knee clearance—especially for taller people with longer shins and, therefore, higher knees.
Stand-Up vs. Sit-Down?
If we’re talking about an under-the-desk elliptical, you probably expect to use it sitting down. Some fitness enthusiasts overlook the fact, however, that certain compact elliptical machines are safe for seated use only, while others can also be used in a standing position.
Why is this important? A seated elliptical machine can help you reach your steps goal or afford you a vigorous cardiovascular workout.
Standing up opens up a whole different range of exercise options. Fighting against gravity, a stand-up elliptical engages your leg and butt muscles far more than a seated elliptical machine. Traditionally gym elliptical machines also include stabilizing bars. Without that structure to hold onto, a person using a standing elliptical machine must rely on core stabilizing muscles to balance and stay upright. This makes an upright elliptical machine an excellent core-training machine, in addition to training the legs, heart, and lungs.
In fact, by engaging the arms to counterbalance, an upright elliptical is a pretty solid whole-body workout. If you want your machine to have this kind of advanced functionality, strongly consider an under-the-desk elliptical machine that is also safe to use upright.
Magnetic or Hydraulic?
Exercise machines and tools work by applying resistance. Some exercises like pushups or pullups rely on body weight to create resistance, but if gravity isn’t working hard against you, as in a pushup, the resistance has to come from some other force.
Traditional weight and exercise machines use metal weights to create resistance. However, heavy metal takes up a lot of space and is not suitable for an under-the-desk exercise appliance. So where will the resistance come from in your under-the-desk elliptical machine?
Many electronic elliptical machines rely on electromagnetism to create resistance. Magnets of opposite polarity (positive or negative electric charge) resist each other. The more electrical power you supply to the magnet, the greater the resistance. Machines like these often require batteries or must be plugged into a wall outlet.
Other elliptical machines rely on hydraulic power to create resistance. You might have heard of hydraulic power but not understood it. Notice the root word “hydro,” which means water? Hydraulic power is created by applying pressure to water or another fluid. That fluid is then condensed into a small space to create outsized mechanical resistance. Lots of resistance can be created in a very small amount of fluid if channelled properly. A hydraulic elliptical machine may not need electrical power, unless it has a display.
Plug-In or Cordless?
Some under-the-desk elliptical machines must be plugged into the wall to function. This might not make a difference if your desk area is rich in power outlets, but what if it’s not or if you want to take the machine elsewhere? Using an elliptical machine seated in front of the sofa requires the machine to be in the middle of the living room, a location notoriously far from power outlets. The requirement of a wall plug also precludes using the machine in the park or the wilderness, should the mood strike you to take your under-the-desk elliptical camping.
Other under-the-desk elliptical machines offer cordless options. A machine powered by hydraulics or even magnetics may have a plug-free mode or even provide all the resistance you need without plugging it in. Others might derive their power from batteries, or at least rely on batteries to power their LED or LCD displays.
Discreet Settings or Infinitely Adjustable?
Whether powered by hydraulic power or magnetism, elliptical machines offer different ways of calibrating the resistance.
Many under-the-desk elliptical machines offer discreet settings for resistance. This is like adding weights to a weight machine—you can probably adjust by denominations of five-pound or ten-pound weights, but not 3.298 pounds or 8.436 pounds. The fewer setting options you have, the less you can customize your resistance. What if a setting is too easy for you, but the next setting up is too challenging?
Other machines feature “infinite” adjustment. Not that you can create an infinite amount of resistance, so much as you can calibrate the resistance to an infinite fraction. These elliptical machines usually have a knob or toggle that you can use to fine-tune to a level of resistance that is perfect for you. If you want to increase resistance by tiny increments over time, one of these infinitely-adjustable resistance options may be the right choice for you.
Sometimes it’s the extras that tip the scale on the selection of the right product for you. In the case of an under-the-desk elliptical machine, your card might just get punched by such extras as leg braces if you are in the process of rehabilitation for a foot surgery or ankle injury, or resistance bands if you want to up the ante on the ability of an upright elliptical machine to provide a full-body workout.
There’s a lot that can break on an under-the-desk elliptical machine, from the electronics to the display to the rotating tracks to the foot pedals. Many products offer a satisfaction guarantee, but a factory warranty actually promises repairs if something breaks down. An end-to-end warranty from the manufacturer safeguards you against faults and breakage. A limited warranty might only apply to part of the device—for example, the foot pedals and nothing more.