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Under-desk ellipticals are machines that a person can use to pedal while seated. Companies may also refer to them as seated or recumbent elliptical trainers. They are portable and suitable for use in the home or office. They may be particularly ideal for older adults who find exercise challenging.

A quick look at some of the best under-desk ellipticals

A 2020 study notes that seated elliptical machines can be beneficial for older adults as they can reduce sedentary behavior.

Elliptical trainers offer low impact exercise because the feet stay on the pedals as a person moves them, and these movements do not place much stress on the legs.

According to one study, sitting for long periods may be harmful, as physical inactivity can increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. The researchers advise engaging in outdoor exercise but note that only 20% of people in the United States do so.

An under-desk elliptical machine may make physical activity possible and appealing for people who are sedentary for long periods and unable to exercise otherwise. However, it should not replace regular exercise for those who can be more active.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that regular physical activity can benefit health by:

  • strengthening the bones and muscles
  • burning calories and helping people maintain a moderate weight
  • slowing the loss of bone density, in the case of moderate-intensity exercise
  • reducing the risk of hip fractures

There are some safety precautions that people may find beneficial when using an elliptical trainer. These include:

  • starting at a slower pace to allow the muscles to warm up and the heart rate to increase gradually
  • checking the heart rate to avoid overexercising
  • keeping an upright posture when sitting
  • checking that the feet remain in place on the pedals
  • stopping if feeling sore or exhausted

Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Size and capacity: MNT selects products to suit people of different heights, weights, and strengths.
  • Connectivity: Where fitness equipment has fitness memberships or subscriptions, MNT ensures variation in classes and services that benefit a person’s health.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Ease of use: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. If set-up is complicated, MNT chooses brands that offer a set-up or installation service.
  • Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure its products are safe for personal use.
  • Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices and offer reliable customer service and support.

Below, we look at seven under-desk ellipticals that people may wish to consider purchasing.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Best for nonslip pedals: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Under-Desk Elliptical

  • List price: around $200
  • Pros: eight levels of resistance and nonslip foot pedals
  • Cons: some reviewers state it is not suitable for shorter people

This under-desk elliptical has eight levels of resistance, a digital monitor, and a transportation handlebar. It also features nonslip foot pedals and smooth glide wheels.

The company claims it can increase circulation, joint range of motion, and lower body muscular endurance.

The product weighs 25 pounds (lb) and has a 3.52-lb flywheel. The dimensions are as follows:

  • 24 inches (in) long
  • 19 in wide
  • 11 in high

The company offers the following warranties and policies:

  • a 1-year structural frame warranty
  • a 180-day warranty for other parts and components
  • a 30-day money-back guarantee

Best for upper body training: Stamina InMotion Compact Elliptical

  • List price: around $139
  • Pros: reviewers note it is quiet and sturdy
  • Cons: some people find that the display does not accurately track metrics

Stamina’s under-desk elliptical machine features foot pedals that a person can move both forward and reverse to target the lower body in different ways.

It comes with upper body resistance bands with handles, so people can use the machine to perform upper body exercises while standing or sitting.

Other features include:

  • a handle for easy portability
  • nonslip pedals
  • an adjustable tension dial
  • an LCD monitor
  • a workout DVD

The electronic display shows the exercise time, number of strides per minute, total strides, and calorie burn.

This elliptical weighs 24 Ib and has a maximum user weight of 250 lb. The dimensions are as follows:

  • 24 in long
  • 18 in wide
  • 12 in high

Best for a budget: Ativafit Under-Desk Elliptical Bike

  • List price: around $101
  • Pros: has forward and reverse movement
  • Cons: some reviewers state the tension knobs do not work

Ativafit’s elliptical supports sitting or standing positions, pedaling or running, and forward or reverse motions. The company claims that it operates quietly.

Some of its features include:

  • quiet operation with a brake resistance mechanism
  • large anti-slip pedals
  • an LCD monitor
  • a massage function

The dimensions are as follows:

  • 22.4 in long
  • 19.7 in wide
  • height not specified

Best for a silent elliptical: Cubii Pro Seated Under-Desk Elliptical Machine

  • List price: around $199
  • Pros: has an almost-silent operation, making it beneficial for use during meetings
  • Cons: some reviewers note it slides on hardwood floors

This near-silent elliptical is an upgraded version of the standard Cubii elliptical. Cubii offers a range of under-desk elliptical machines.

Learn more about Cubii here.

The Pro model has Bluetooth compatibility, and users can download the Cubii app on their iPhone or Android mobile devices. People can also sync their data with Apple HealthKit, and access live and on-demand workout classes.

The Pro model includes wheel stoppers, a Cubii Pro charger, and a nonslip workout mat. Other advantages include eight resistance levels, Fitbit compatibility, and a 1-year warranty.

It weighs 27.6 Ib and has the following dimensions:

  • 23.1 in long
  • 17.6 in wide
  • 9.8 in high

Best for portability: ANCHEER Under-Desk Electric Mini Elliptical Machine

  • List price: around $359
  • Pros: portable and lightweight
  • Cons: does not have variable resistance

This elliptical trainer comes with a remote control, so people do not have to bend to adjust the mode and speed. It has a built-in monitor, is portable for easy transportation, and operates quietly.

The machine features automatic and manual modes with various preset programs and speed options. It also has larger-than-usual nonslip pedals.

Other positives include a touchscreen display, quiet operation, and lightweight. It also needs no assembly.

It also does not have variable resistance.

It has the following dimensions:

  • 18 in long
  • 14 in wide
  • 10 in high

Best for resistance levels: Exerpeutic 900E Exerwork

  • List price: around $165
  • Pros: offers 14 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Cons: some reviewers mention the elliptical broke after a few weeks of use

This elliptical features 14 levels of magnetic resistance. It also comes with a steel hook for swivel chairs to lock the chair in place and allow people to exercise without the equipment slipping.

The company says it is quiet and has a 10.5-in pedal height.

The wheel holder steel hook is extendable so people can connect the chair from a larger distance. This may be beneficial for taller people.

This elliptical also features transportation wheels and the ability for people to sync their workout data with the MyCloudFitness app.

It has the following dimensions:

  • 38 in long
  • 18.5 in wide
  • 14 in height

Best for light resistance: Cubii JR2

  • List price: around $249
  • Pros: some reviewers state that the elliptical has light resistance, making it suitable for gentle exercise
  • Cons: the lighter resistance may make it unsuitable for people wanting a more intense workout

The company states that this elliptical has a lightweight design, smooth gliding motion, and a chair lock. It has eight levels of resistance.

It also contains an LCD with workout tracking information and a chair lock to prevent slipping. People can also download the Cubii mobile app and sync their data via Bluetooth.

It has the following dimensions:

  • 24.41 in long
  • 17.8 in wide
  • 8.78 in height

Best for multiple speed levels: Orbitrek MX

  • List price: around $400
  • Pros: offers multiple speed levels and programs
  • Cons: some reviewers state the elliptical stops working after several weeks

This Orbitrek elliptical has three programs and five speed levels. It has an LCD screen that tracks fitness metrics and antislip foot pedals.

The company states that this elliptical has a quiet motion and offers forward and reverse movements.

The elliptical also comes with a remote control that people can use to start, pause, and select programs. The company offers free shipping and returns and a 1-year warranty.

Best for a lifetime warranty: FlexStride Plus Under Desk Elliptical

  • List price: around $300
  • Pros: lifetime warranty and free shipping
  • Cons: battery operated

This elliptical features eight variable resistance levels, wide pedals, and Bluetooth compatibility.

It also has an LCD screen that tracks fitness metrics, such as the number of strides a person does per minute.

The company offers a lifetime warranty and a 30-day refund policy if a person does not open the package. Additionally, it provides free shipping.

It has an LCD screen that displays workout progress, such as the number of strides per minute. However, it needs batteries to operate and is not rechargeable.

The following table provides a comparison of the products in this article.

Resistance levelsProsConsList price
Sunny Health & Fitness8nonslip foot pedalsmay not be suitable for shorter peoplearound $200
Stamina InMotion8quiet and sturdymay not accurately track metricsaround $130
Ativafitno information statedforward and reverse movementtension knobs may not workaround $101
Cubii Pro8almost-silent designmay slip on hardwood floorsaround $199
ANCHEERno adjustable resistanceportable and lightweightcannot adjust resistancearound $359
Exerpeutic1414 levels of magnetic resistancemay stop working after several usesaround $165
Cubii JR28suitable for gentle exercisenot suitable for an intense workoutaround $249
Orbitrekno adjustable resistancemultiple speed levelsmay stop working after several weeksaround $400
FlexStride8lifetime warrantybattery operatedaround $300

Some features to consider when looking for an under-desk elliptical machine include:

  • Portability: A person who wants to use an elliptical machine in an office and at home may consider choosing one that is particularly compact and lightweight. Some also have a wheel and a handle for easy transportation.
  • Dimensions: Checking the device’s dimensions helps people determine whether it will fit in their under-desk area and they will have the room to use it. Learn about compact ellipticals here.
  • Noise: Individuals can use an under-desk elliptical to exercise while they are working at a desk. In these cases, it is best to choose one that features a silent operation mode so that it does not disturb other people.
  • Pedals: Pedals that come with a textured surface can help secure the feet and provide a firm grip.
  • Display monitor: This can be helpful for tracking time, speed, calories burned, and more.

Here we answer some common questions about this equipment.

Who should not use an under-desk elliptical?

Most people can use an under-desk elliptical.

However, people who have recently had surgery or have heart conditions may wish to contact a doctor before performing moderate or intense exercise.

How often is it okay to use an under-desk elliptical?

People can use an under-desk elliptical every day.

However, people should be mindful of their cardio health and stamina. People who use exercise equipment for too long or at too high resistance or speed may injure themselves.

If a person experiences any pain, they should stop using the elliptical immediately.

Is an under-desk elliptical as good as walking?

Under-desk ellipticals and walking are both cardio workouts.

However, under-desk ellipticals do not involve the upper-body motion of walking so people may burn fewer calories. Other factors, such as the speed and resistance of the elliptical, can increase or decrease the number of calories this exercise burns.

Under-desk ellipticals are pieces of fitness equipment that may suit people who are sedentary for long periods, including older adults and office workers.

These machines provide various health benefits, but they come with safety precautions. For instance, a person should ensure that they keep their back straight and increase the workout’s intensity gradually.

Several under-desk elliptical trainers are available for purchase online. People should check what features and policies brands offer before making a purchase.