Under desk ellipticals and bikes both promise to help you make the most of your seated work and leisure time by getting extra exercise in. But what’s the difference between the two?
I’ll go over what both are, who should get each, and the pros and cons of each in this under-desk elliptical vs. bike article.
What is an Under Desk Elliptical?
An under desk elliptical is similar to a regular elliptical machine but much smaller. There are several brands on the market, including the popular Cubii (available on Amazon.com). You can see several of them in the image above.
Note: I have a full review of the Cubii here.
These machines are meant to help you get exercise while you are working or watching TV. They are fairly compact and they are easy to use.
Like all elliptical machines, under desk ellipticals use a kind of shuffling motion that is easy on the joints.
What Is an Under Desk Bike?
An under desk bike is a small pedal machine that fits under your desk. There are many companies that make these, with widely varying degrees of quality. You can some of the most popular ones on Amazon.com here.
Under desk bikes have the same kind of circular motion that a regular bicycle has.
Most people use these machines to get some extra exercise in during the day when they are sitting on the couch or working at a computer.
What Are the Differences Between Under Desk Ellipticals and Bikes?
The main difference between under desk ellipticals and bikes is the motion you use when using them.
Under desk bikes have a circular motion. I find that this isn’t as ergonomic as an elliptical. Also, because you are raising your knees more when you are using it you may bump the bottom of your desk.
While you can still bump the bottom of your desk with your knees with an under desk elliptical the shuffling type motion makes it much less likely. The elliptical motion is also more ergonomically friendly.
What Are the Similarities Between Under Desk Ellipticals and Bikes?
What makes these machines similar is where you use them, the amount of calories they burn on average, and their helpfulness in staying fit and/or losing weight.
Both types of under desk machines are meant to give you extra activity when you are engaged in otherwise seated tasks. They burn about 150 calories an hour at an average pace, and many people report that these machines help them both stay fit and lose weight.
The reality is that any movement is much better than no movement at all, and both an under desk elliptical and an under desk bike help you get more movement in.
What’s Better About Under Desk Elliptical Machines?
Under desk elliptical machines have two distinct advantages over under desk bikes.
- The motion is more ergonomic and much easier on your knees.
- You are much less likely to bang your knees on your desk.
What’s Better About Under Desk Bikes?
I prefer under desk ellipticals, but under desk bikes can be MUCH less expensive. Also, some people just prefer bikes. And if that’s you, then an under desk bike will make more sense.
Under desk bikes are also usually less expensive than under desk elliptical machines. They start at about $30 for a super basic unit, and really nice once like the Sunny Health & Fitness SF -B0418 runs about $100.
It would be very difficult to find a basic under desk elliptical at $30. Most of them start at over $100.
Who Should Get an Under Desk Elliptical?
If you are looking for an ergonomic solution that will help keep you active during seated activities, or if you have limited mobility but can use your legs then you may want to consider an under desk elliptical.
The one I like the best is the Cubbi. I have a comparison article on the two versions the Cubbi Pro and the Cubbi Jr. here if you want to know more.
Who Should Get an Under Desk Bike?
An under desk bike is a more affordable option, but I find them awkward to use under a desk. They work better when seated in a couch or a chair with nothing to bang your knees on.
The exception to this is this standing under desk bike. It’s unusual, but it will do a better job if you prefer cycling over an elliptical.
What is the Best Under The Desk Exerciser?
The best under desk exerciser that I’ve come across is the Cubbi Pro. It has an integrated app that tracks your progress and lets you compete for the most minutes of exercise.
It is a bit pricey, but the Cubbi Pro elliptical is well built and will last a long time with proper care.