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Best Under-Desk Ellipticals and Steppers

In today's multitasking world, working out while at work (or while sitting in front of the TV) seems like the best way to combine your fitness goals with the rest of your life. But how effective are under-desk exercisers, and how do you find the best ones?

Ellipticals have earned their appreciation among fitness enthusiasts in the past and they continue to become more popular with beginners and experts alike. They are best known for being easier on your knees, spine and other joints than other cardio machines due to the rotating pedaling motion, and often come with movable handles so that you can get a bit of an upper body workout as well.

Some studies also show that while the effort exerted on the elliptical is about the same as a treadmill, you feel like the effort is a lot less, so you feel less tired. Basically, you’ll end up working harder and get a better quality cardio workout.

Under-desk ellipticals and the differences they bring to a workout.

One of the most popular type of elliptical that can be found on the market is the under-desk elliptical. The name of these fitness devices might be self-explanatory - they are an attractive option for people who like to multi-task, because they are designed to be used while sitting. The idea is that you will be able to work out as you sit at your desk taking care of your regular job, or sit on the couch in front of the TV while relaxing. 

An under-desk elliptical will also be different than the regular ellipticals because they are less intense, due to the fact that they are designed to be used while multitasking. They also usually don't have varying levels of resistance or incline, making them less challenging to use than full-sized ellipticals.

How effective are under-desk ellipticals, really?

When it comes to how effective under-desk ellipticals actually are, however, the opinions are split based on personal needs and preferences. It's important to set realistic expectations when you start using an under-desk elliptical - unsurprisingly, they are far from the no-effort pound-shedders that marketing tactics may have you believe. 

Under desk ellipticals are NOT machines that will help build any muscle, or even help you really lose weight. For that, you need actual exercise machines or weights and a proper diet. They are great to slightly increase activity levels if you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, but they are not a replacement for healthy eating and exercise. 

Furthermore, if you are actually working hard enough to break a sweat, you're likely losing focus on your work. If you intend to pedal passively in front of the TV, that won't matter as much, but it's important to keep your priorities in mind if you want to buy one for the office. 

It's important to set realistic expectations when you start using an under-desk elliptical - unsurprisingly, they are far from the no-effort pound-shedders that marketing tactics may have you believe. 

For some people, under-desk ellipticals are an effective answer to using their fidgety energy as they are sitting at their desk. They will burn twice as much calories than if you would just be fidgeting regularly (but note that that still isn't that many calories, so it's not an excuse to get McDonald's for lunch!) Having somewhere passive to pour nervous energy can increase focus levels and make time pass more quickly while at the office. 

The key is to get comfortable using an under-desk elliptical as you are sitting. It can be quite challenging, especially if you are used to have a certain position at your desk. The pedals require a certain posture, and some desks or chairs may be too short and you'll bang your knees with every step. But once you get comfortable and used to moving your legs on an under desk elliptical, you can build up the habit of working out while working. 

The best under-desk ellipticals come with a reverse mode as well that you can use to target different muscle groups. Pedaling on reverse will work your rectus femoris muscle which is an important part of the quadriceps group. Going forward will help you work out your bicep femoris muscle which is part of the hamstring group. 

Features to consider

Even though under-desk ellipticals are still fairly new on the market, they come in a multitude of models and each one of them has different features and options. When you are shopping for the best under-desk elliptical for you, keep in mind several features such as the noise they make, their size (especially height, if you plan on using it at a desk), if they track your steps and if they offer any resistance levels to increase the difficulty.

It should be obvious that you don’t want a noisy elliptical that will bother you or your coworkers while you work. You may have to lubricate your machine regularly to stop it from squeaking, which is understandably annoying. 

As well, you don’t want one that comes in the wrong height - you should be able to pedal smoothly without bumping your knees against the top of your desk. It's important to measure your chair height, your desk height and consider the length of your legs before purchasing. 

As for the step tracking, this is a great feature to have when you want to keep an eye on the efficiency of your work out. Some under-desk ellipticals come with a calorie tracker as well, so you know how many you have burned (though it is important to take any caloric data with a heavy grain of salt.)

To ease your research, here are the best under-desk ellipticals you can find on the market and everything you need to know about them before making a decision. 

1) Stamina InMotion E1000 available for $83 on Amazon

Key features
  • Weighs 24lbs.
  • Forward or reverse pedal direction
  • Can be used sitting or standing
  • three color option

Stamina entered the under-desk elliptical market 3 years ago and the company is impressive in terms of quality and good prices. It has some of the best portable and compact under-desk ellipticals on the market that also come at a friendly price.

The InMotion E1000 is not the cheapest model available, but it is more affordable compared to products of a similar quality. The Stamina InMotion E1000 allows you to efficiently work out muscles such as hips, buttocks, thighs, and legs.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Stamina InMotion E1000 comes with all the features you would expect to find in a high quality under-desk elliptical. From the way it is designed (which is very modern and discreet at the same time), to its performance level, this is overall a great choice.

First of all, it can be used as you are sitting at your desk as well as by standing, which increases the difficulty and effectiveness of the workout. This model tends to be more popular as an under-desk elliptical, however, since it comes with no additional handles to attach while standing.

This elliptical is meant to have a high portability and it requires just 23.5" x 17" of space to use. It is only 24 lbs in weight so you can take it with you at work easily,or store it in the corner or under the coffee table when you are done with it.

As far as extra features go, Stamina InMotion E1000 comes with a display that will show you the number of steps as well as the number of calories you have burned. This elliptical has a reverse mode as well so you are able to pedal in both directions depending on what muscles you want to target. The intensity of your workout can be changed by adjusting the tension level knob on the top of the machine.

As far as longevity goes, the frame comes with one year of warranty and the parts come with a 90 days warranty. While this doesn't seem like much compared to full-sized elliptical machines (which come with anywhere from five years to a lifetime of warranty), this is considerably better than most under desk models.

What's not so good about it?

The most common downfall that users of this product report is the possibility to break faster than anticipated. The pedals tend to fall out of place if it is used at high intensity for several hours a day.

Considering that this is not on the cheap side of the price range, having a short lifespan is not something to compromise easy on. However, if it is used with caution and you do regular maintenance on the machine (tighten the screws, lubricate the pedals) this can be a good investment. And because it does come with warranty, it can be expected to last for as long as the warranty covers it.

Pros:
  • Adjustable tension to increase workout intensity
  • Comes with a reverse mode
  • Digital display attached to it that shows workout information (including number of steps and calories)
  • Highly portable
Cons:
  • It doesn’t have a long lifespan
  • The warranty only covers 90 days on parts

2) JFit Mini Under Desk available for $101 on Amazon

Key features
  • Measures the progress
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Has top and front handle
  • Can be used under desk and standing

JFit is one of the fitness equipment manufacturers that offers good quality products at a decent price. They specialized in creating flexible devices and fitness accessories to be used in the comfort of your home.

When it comes to ellipticals, the JFit Mini Under Desk is one of those multi functional devices that can be used while you are sitting as well as while you are standing (though as the name implies, it is best used while sitting).

The variety of features that this elliptical comes with include an adjustable resistance, a monitor to track the exercise time, speed and calories burned, and also high-quality adjustable pedals. This is product is also budget friendly so you won’t have to invest a fortune into it.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

There are many reasons why the JFit Mini Under Desk elliptical has gotten to be so popular in such a short time. Many aspects on this device are adjustable, such as the resistance level or the position of the pedals. This means that you can use it for different types of workouts and it can accommodate users of different sizes and shapes.

Besides the basic elliptical pedals on the frame, it also comes with top and front handles as well as rear wheels. This makes it easy to carry around or put away. The oil that comes with the machine will help treat any squeaking issues, so that you can move without distracting your coworkers. And the maximum weight that this device supports is 250 lbs which again, is pretty great for such a tiny machine.

What's not so good about it?

Since nothing in this world is perfect, JFit Mini Under Desk also comes with certain cons that you may or may not be able to compromise on. Without the oil, the noise this elliptical makes can be quite disturbing so it is important to have that handy when you use it.

 

Also, with a total weight of around 30 pounds, this elliptical can be less portable than others - it’s too bulky to say, carry on the subway to work. The last downfall that might be a problem for some users is the position of the display. This is set in front of the elliptical (towards you toes) and thus it’s hard to see while sitting.

Pros:
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Adjustable pedals
  • Can be used for sitting and standing workouts
  • It comes with additional handles, wheels and oil
  • Budget friendly price
Cons:
  • Noisy (especially without oil)
  • Not very portable
  • The position of the monitor makes it hard to see when sitting

3) FitDesk UnderDesk available for $168 on Amazon

Key features
  • Lowest pedal rotation height of 8 inches
  • With digital meter
  • Hands-free resistance shifting
  • Quite resistance

FitDesk Under-desk elliptical is one of those ellipticals that have one purpose only and that is to be used successfully at any workplace. Even though FitDesk offers a wide range of office fitness equipment, this is the item continues to be one of the most popular.

The price of this elliptical is not on the cheap side of the scale but it is not one of the most expensive devices either. And for a middle-range price, you can get plenty of features to assure you that you made a good investment: Hands free tension adjustment, on-the-desk display and a smooth, silent motion are just a few of the advantages that come with FitDesk Under-desk elliptical.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Something particular to this elliptical is the built-in foot massager which can help to ensure good blood flow and comfort while cycling. Also, you can adjust the tension level on it without interrupting your workout, which is obviously very convenient.

The most significant feature of the Under-Desk is the fluid shuffle motion system,which offers a smooth motion during workout, similar to that of full-sized regular ellipticals. This feature will protect your knees and not allow them to hit the desk during exercise.

The elliptical comes with handles to easily lift it, and wheels which makes it transportable. The FitDesk Under-Desk weighs 31 lbs and comes with one year warranty on the parts as well as a lifetime warranty on the frame - an amazing deal for an under-desk elliptical!

What's not so good about it?

Since it is quite a heavy product, you might not find it easy to carry this elliptical around. And this can be a problem if you are planning to enjoy it both at work and at home, as it’s too hefty to take it with you as you are travelling.

Also, the noise of the FitDesk Under-desk elliptical can be distracting, though this seems to vary from item to item. Make sure that you keep it well maintained to avoid distracting your coworkers.

Pros:
  • Hands free adjustable tension
  • Smooth, specially designed motion
  • Comes with one year warranty on the parts and lifetime warranty on the frame
  • Has handles and wheels to ease transportation
Cons:
  • It is heavier than other ellipticals
  • Meant to be used while sitting only
  • Not a budget friendly price

4) Cubii Smart Under-Desk available for $349 on Amazon

Key features
  • Bluetooth enabled to track your progress
  • 3-5 minutes assembly time
  • Sturdy construction
  • 8 resistance levels

Among compact fitness equipment companies, Cubii is one of the most popular brands. It is NEAT certified and it meets all the needed criteria for active sitting. Also, Cubii is the first company to create a compact elliptical that syncs with Fitbit - the Smart Under-Desk.

Because of the associated brand reputation as well as software features, the price of this elliptical is more expensive. But you might find it to be a long term investment, especially if you spend most of your day at your desk.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

As the name suggests, the Cubii Smart Under-desk elliptical is designed with software features in mind, which is fairly uncommon in compact exercise machines. In addition to Fitbit, it is also made to sync with other mobile applications so you can keep track of your workout statistics on the go.

Cubii has its own application which connects to the elliptical via Bluetooth, and tracks calories burnt, distance traveled, and allows you to share your fitness progress with your friends and family. You can also change the resistance levels or see your progress by using the calendar feature.

In terms of physical features, this elliptical has plenty of them. The Cubii Smart elliptical is made to sustain a weight for up to 300 lbs, which can accommodate the majority of users. Cubii’s model also comes with 8 different levels of resistance as well as 8 different exercise programs, which allows it to compete with its full-sized elliptical counterparts in terms of adding variety to your workout routine.

The Cubii’s aesthetics are not to be ignored, either. It looks sleek and smooth, and comes in 3 colours - it is really designed to fit in a modern office or home.

The product has the dimensions of 23.15 x 17.5 x 9.8 inches and the weight of 27 lbs which makes it portable enough to take with you on your commute, if you choose. The height is low enough that your knees will not hit your desk. Most significantly, it is also designed with silence in mind, so it will not disturb a working environment.

What's not so good about it?

Cubii Smart Under-Desk is one of those few ellipticals that don’t come with too many downfalls. Some people might prefer more levels of resistance as well as more than 8 programs, but honestly this is already miles ahead of most under-desk machines. If you need a more intense workout, a full-sized elliptical or cycle would be better.

Another aspect that the company could work on is the Cubii app. Although they do respond to feedback quite quickly, the app often needs updating and could use some more features. As well, Bluetooth connectivity to your mobile device is not always reliable.

Pros:
  • It can connect to Fitbit and Cubii app through any smartphone
  • It is pretty much silent
  • Compact design is easy to transport and will fit under desks
  • 8 levels of resistance and 8 programs
Cons:
  • App needs updating
  • Expensive

5) Cubii Jr available for $249 on Amazon

Key features
  • Assembly time of 3-5 minutes
  • Built-in display monitor
  • 2 wheel stoppers included
  • Whisper quite resistance

Cubii thought of everything since 2015 when it got on the under-desk ellipticals market. And the Cubii Jr is a great alternative to other, more expensive products signed by this brand. Even if it has all you would expect to find in such an elliptical, Cubii Jr comes at a more affordable price that can somewhat fit in the middle of under desk models.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Cubii Jr comes with a display screen that helps you track your workout progress, rather than a Bluetooth function like on the Cubii Smart. This is also the main reason why this elliptical is a bit cheaper.

Like the Cubii Smart under desk elliptical, the Cubii Jr is designed to be extremely silent so it won’t disturb you or anyone around in your home or office. Also, like other Cubii models, the pedals are angled to prevent your knees from reaching the desk as you use it.

 

A great benefit that comes with this product is the fact that it includes two wheel stoppers for chairs. The Cubii Jr has an ergonomic design and a compact structure which makes it easy to transport to different locations.

What's not so good about it?

Most users find the display a lot less comfortable than the bluetooth function. You won’t be able to track your sessions of exercise and you will have to look under the desk to actually see the current data such as calories burned, workout time, etc.

Similar to most under-desk ellipticals, the Cubii Jr is designed for light workouts only. Used consistently, you will be able to burn around 150 calories per hour.

Pros:
  • Pretty much silent (like the Cubii Smart)
  • High portability thanks to its compact shape
  • 8 levels of resistance
  • A better price than other Cubii ellipticals
Cons:
  • It doesn’t come with a bluetooth function or app connectivity
  • The display might be uncomfortable to read because it is placed under the desk

6) Stamina INMOTION COMPACT STRIDER available for $99 on Amazon

Key features
  • Display monitor
  • 2 wheel stoppers
  • Whisper quiet machine
  • 8 resistance levels

Stamina offers the InMotion Compact Strider to be used as a light workout machine in your workplace or at home. Thanks to its compact structure, this elliptical is easy to transport anywhere you want to use it. The price is not be particularly cheap or expensive, but rather in the middle of the scale.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The most specific aspect for this elliptical is its compact design. It has a weight of 24 lbs (about 10kg) which makes it very convenient to be carried. To make it even more portable, this device comes with a handle.

Thanks to its non-slip pedals, this elliptical can be used while you are sitting and standing equally. The ability to adjust the intensity also adds more variety to your workouts.

You can use the display on Stamina Inmotion Compact elliptical to track the distance, calories burned or workout time.

What's not so good about it?

The durability of the InMotion Compact Strider needs some improvement. Some people have reported that after heavy use on daily basis for some months, it started to squeak. If you want to use this machine in an office environment, it’s important to maintain it with lubricant regularly.

Also, for some buyers, the stride of this elliptical might be too short. It works for stepping under the desk, but if you plan to use it while standing (as the brand advertises), some people may find it slightly uncomfortable.

Pros:
  • This elliptical is easy to move around thanks to its lightweight design and handle
  • Adjustable resistance knob
  • Easy to assemble
Cons:
  • The stride might be too short for use while
  • Limited lifespan

7) Loctek FP1 Mini Step available for $59 on Amazon

Key features
  • Slip-resistant foot plates
  • Display monitor to track progress
  • 2 color options
  • Great for beginners

Loctek is a specialist in fitness devices designed to be used at your workplace. Their products are created with an ergonomic style, and they manage to keep them in a budget-friendly price range. This is the case for the FP1 Mini step elliptical as well. It comes with all you need to stay active while you are working at your desk and the price is one of the best that you can find on the market nowadays.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Loctek FP1 Mini Step lets you adjust the resistance level as you wish: If you want to get fit and work those leg muscles hard, you can increase it the difficulty, and if you want to casually burn some calories but not break a sweat, you can set it to the minimum level.

This elliptical can support a weight of 250 lbs which makes it suitable for the majority of users. It is also built to last a long time, thanks to its sturdy frame.

As far as comfort goes, this item comes with a non-slip set of pedals so you won’t have to worry about falling off if you use it while standing. It is very easy to push under a table for storage, thanks to the wheels and small dimensions (17" x 16" x 11"), and you can carry it fairly easily.

Like most mid-range stepper-style ellipticals, the Locktek FP1 also comes with a display that lets you check the number of steps, the number of calories you burned as well as the workout time.

What's not so good about it?

The main issues reported with the Loctek downfalls is that isn’t designed for durability over long term use. The pedals sometimes heat up during intense workouts and that affects the comfort. In addition, the pedals might come out of place or might start producing a squeaky noise after some months of using it.

Pros:
  • Budget-friendly elliptical
  • Can be used standing or sitting
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Incorporated display
Cons:
  • Not a long lifespan
  • Some squeakiness

8) DeskCycle 2 available for $169 on Amazon

Key features
  • 9-10 inches pedal height
  • Ultra smooth pedal motion
  • Great for physical therapy
  • Weighs 40lbs.

DeskCycle is one of the most well-known brands that focus on developing multi-tasking fitness equipment. They are located in Colorado and their goal is to help people achieve a healthy lifestyle even during work hours.

The DeskCycle 2 elliptical is a great choice for many reasons, the least of which including its affordable price tag. It is not the absolutely cheapest option, but considering the name behind it you know that you’re getting a deal.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

DeskCycle 2 comes with 9-inch high pedals, which is a unique feature on the market. This makes the elliptical suitable for any type of desks, even those lower than 27 inches. Children can use DeskCycle 2 as well.

The pedal’s height is adjustable so you can set it up exactly to where you need it to be, so it can be used with multiple chair heights. Your stability can be adjusted by using the velcro pedal straps.

Also, the magnetic resistance is also adjustable, and keeps the elliptical running quietly (no squeaky moving parts!). You can choose between 8 levels of resistance according to the intensity that you want for your workout.

The DeskCycle 2 comes with a separate display can be placed on top of the desk so you won’t have to duck under the table to see how many calories you have burned or how many steps you have taken. This elliptical comes with one year of warranty and the manufacturer promises a 30 day refund if you are not satisfied with it.

What's not so good about it?

There are not many downfalls to this product, but similar to other under-desk ellipticals, it is important to recognize that you will not get an intense workout with this machine. The 8 levels of resistance help to add some variety, but you probably won’t feel sore the next day after using this.

Also, the materials cause certain pieces to come apart after long terms use (such as the resistance dial, which is made of plastic).

Pros:
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Suitable for children as well as any chair or table height, due to adjustable pedals
  • Designed for high portability
  • 8 levels of resistance
Cons:
  • Not good for very intense workouts
  • Plastic parts might come apart after long term use

9) Fitbill F.Step Smart Desk

Key features
  • Bluetooth enabled to track your progress
  • Anti-slip foot pedals
  • 24"-33" adjustable pedal height
  • Free mobile workout app

Despite producing budget-friendly models, Fitbill’s exercise devices have more features than you would expect them to. The Fitbill F.Step Smart Desk is one of the most appreciated under desk models that are provided by this brand. The price is about average, but it comes with more.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

When it comes to the features of this product, the Fitbill F.Step elliptical comes with a little bit of everything.

This elliptical uses a bluetooth function to sync your workout progress with the compatible app on your smartphone or tablet. You can track your steps, exercise time and the number of calories that you have burned, and track your progress towards your workout goals over time.

In terms of physical features, the Fitbill F.Step is designed to be fairly compact. You can use it while you are standing as well as sitting. When used as a standing elliptical, it stimulates the walking posture in a very realistic way. Also, a unique feature is that the pedals can go in reverse for extra workout options.

You can adjust the tension from beginner to expert levels, and it also comes with a removable seat. The seat can be adjusted from 24" to 33" to accommodate people of varying heights.

What's not so good about it?

Unlike other step-style ellipticals, the Fitbill F.Step only supports a weight of up to 200 lbs. Considering that it is important to leave a 20lb buffer for the max weight (to reduce the likelihood of wear and tear on the machine), this severely restricts the number of users that can take advantage of this product.

In addition, the mobile app is only useful when it is working. There are some issues with synching and connecton, thought, Fitbill should roll out updates regularly to improve these. The resistance levels are rated from Beginner to Expert rather than a number system, which can be confusing.

Another inconvenience of Fitbill F.Step under desk is that it tends to generate some disturbing noise which makes it not great for office use.

Pros:
  • It comes with an adjustable seat
  • High portability
  • Bluetooth function and mobile app included
  • Suitable for standing as well as seated exercise
Cons:
  • The mobile app needs some work
  • Noisy
  • 200 lb weight capacity

10) Stamina InMotion 55-1616

Key features
  • Includes handle for stability
  • Fitness monitor display
  • Forward or reverse pedal direction
  • Large non-slip pedals

The Stamina under-desk ellipticals are all designed for long, low-level workouts, and the InMotion 55-1616 does not disappoint. All the benefits of this under-desk elliptical come at a great budget-friendly price - a cheaper alternative to the well-known Stamina Compact Strider.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

A unique feature that the InMotion has compared to other stepper-style ellipticals its removable handlebar which provides extra balance and support while standing, which allows for a more intense and focused workout (since you don’t need to worry about balance). It can also be used while sitting, however.

The attached console will track the number of burned calories, steps taken, time spent working out as well as a series of statistics to help you improve your workout efficiency. Variety is added to the workout by adding tension, and you can also pedal in reverse.

The footprint is 20” by 12”, and with such dimensions, this elliptical can be stored anywhere without getting in your way. Also, the construction of Stamina InMotion 55-1616 is steel-based in order to increase its durability and lifespan.

What's not so good about it?

The main problem that users have with this elliptical is that it comes with no workout programs set up in the machine, so you have to create variety yourself to get the most out of this device.

This elliptical also weighs a wopping 36 lbs (about 5 kg more than most under-desk models), so while it is fairly stable, it cannot really be transported easily between your home and office.

Pros:
  • Budget-friendly elliptical
  • Comes with a removable handle
  • Steel construction made to last longer
Cons:
  • Doesn’t come with programs installed
  • Heavy

In conclusion...

It might seem challenging to choose the best under-desk elliptical but by following this guide you can get close enough to the perfect product for your needs. Make sure to consider your personal preferences and expectations when you are shopping for an under-desk elliptical. Decide what features are required for you before shopping around, and narrow down the list of options based on your needs. 

By choosing the right product you don’t just add a little fun to your work time, but you also do a great favor to your overall health!