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3 PROVEN office exercise equipment to keep FIT at your desk

[Disclosure: Healthful Papa earns a commission from the links in this article. This does not affect your purchases or what you might pay.]

Obesity is one of the major leading causes of death in the world.

Sedentary behaviors like sitting down for long hours is one of the contributing factors of obesity.

Office workers are most at risk because of the nature of their work. They are sitting down most of their working hours.

Now, office workers can stay active by engaging in sitting down exercises.

However, sitting down exercises such as arm circles, sitting jacks, or bicycle crunches can be distracting and affect your productivity. So, what can you do?

If you care about your wellbeing, want to be active, and still be productive in the office, so you don’t get fired, buy yourself an office exercise equipment.

Office exercise equipment for the office cubicle

office exercise equipment
Office exercise equipment

It doesn’t matter if you have a huge office space or a tiny cubicle. You won’t have any problem fitting these different types of office exercise equipment.

They are for small spaces, just like a cubicle. They are, after all, called “office” exercise equipment.

The following are different types of office exercise equipment:

  • Treadmill desk
  • Under desk elliptical
  • Desk pedal

Treadmill desk

In terms of activity and health benefits, I believe a treadmill desk is the best standing desk exercise equipment you can buy to keep you active and productive at the same time.

I chose this as the top-ranked office exercise equipment because it forces you to workout. Compared to the desk bike machine, the treadmill desk makes walk, even after being distracted while it’s easy to stop pedaling on a desk bike machine.

The biggest question I had with the treadmill desk was, can you type while walking? Answering calls, skype, deleting emails, surfing the net can be done easily on a treadmill desk. But what about typing or writing?

So, I asked people who have worked in treadmill desks, and they all echoed one thing. 

“It takes time to get used to typing while walking. But, after a few days or so, typing becomes second nature.”

Also, keep in mind that under desk treadmills are not made for vigorous exercise. Under desk treadmills, bikes, elliptical is to replace the chair. It’s not for running or power walking. However, you can undoubtedly run or power walk if you want to.

Keep in mind that once you go over the 2 mp/h speed, or exerting lots of effort, doing tasks such as typing will become extremely difficult.

Business Insider staff tries the treadmill desk 

There was a video in 2013 when Business Insider staff tried the treadmill. Some liked it, and some hated it, especially the last guy. 

Before you watch the video below, bear in mind that the reason you are getting a treadmill desk is to keep you active in a sedentary job.

Treadmill desk tested video

Most of the staff had a positive experience, and their productivity didn’t go downhill.

Although the members had a bit of trouble reading, typing, and clicking at the start, after a while, they got the hang of things, and they “felt good.” Except for the last guy who hated it.

Treadmill desk: work performance

In a study of medical transcriptionists when it came to walking treadmill desks, they found that there is a 16% decrease in typing speed. 

If your work doesn’t require you to type like an octopus, it’s fair to say that a 16% drop in typing speed is negligible. 

In saying that, if you are a transcriptionist, data entry operator, or any job where speed matters, a standing desk is a great alternative.

[source: Productivity of transcriptionists using a treadmill desk]

Should you buy a treadmill desk?

When you are thinking of buying a treadmill desk, consider the following:

  • Does typing speed matter in your line of work?
  • Can you stand for the duration of your working hours?
  • Do you have enough space?
  • Why do you need a treadmill desk?

Does typing speed matter?

Studies have shown that there could be a considerable drop in typing speed when using a treadmill desk.

When your main function is typing and speed matters, you should reconsider buying a treadmill desk. 

A standing desk is a great alternative to reduce office occupational hazards without compromising typing performance. Albeit, you’ll still be sedentary, it’s better than sitting.

Can you stand for the duration of your working hours?

You might need to get a separate stool so you can sit down on your treadmill desk. Some people use 2 workstations. One is the treadmill desk, while the other is a traditional sit-down desk.

Do you have enough space?

Consider the width and length of the treadmill desk. If you are buying just the treadmill without an integrated desk, then your separate desk should be wide enough for the treadmill to slide.

Also, is there enough room in your office or you’ll be bumping elbows and forearms? 

Why do you need a treadmill desk?

You are purchasing a treadmill desk because you know that sitting is the new smoking. And you know the best investment is investing in yourself. 

Yes, you can buy a standing desk, but you’ll be standing still. A treadmill desk will keep you moving.

Also, if you want to lose a good amount of calories while at work, an hour on the treadmill desk at 2 mp/h will burn 200 calories for an individual weighing 180 lbs.

[source: Calories Burned – Treadmill: 2 mph (30 minutes per mile)]

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Under desk elliptical

Under desk, ellipticals are like your stair masters and cross-trainers. Ellipticals offer non-impact cardio. 

Compared to the treadmill, ellipticals are “legs” driven instead of a motor. What’s excellent about ellipticals is the number of calories you can expend with an hour’s worth session.

According to Harvard Medical School, a 185 lbs person can burn 400 calories in a 30-minute elliptical session. 

[source: Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights]

I know, it’s not an elliptical desk machine, but that’s just to show you how climbing stairs can burn a lot of calories. Hint: take the stairs. 

Below is a study on desk ellipticals.

A study found a median range of 179 calories is burned per hour using the elliptical machine. That’s quite significant when you add up all the office hours.

[source: Feasibility of using a compact elliptical device to increase energy expenditure during sedentary activities]

Business Insider tries under desk elliptical trainer

I love watching these guys because they are so unbiased. And they are the “office workers” who are mostly at risk of sedentary behavior.

Cubii elliptical desk video

There were mostly negative comments about the under desk elliptical from the Business Insider team. 

A useful takeaway from the video is that the under desk exercise stepper is not for taller people. So, you have to keep this in mind if you are thinking of buying an under desk elliptical machine if you play for the NBA.

Under elliptical desk trainer: work performance

The jury is still out on the impact of an under elliptical desk trainer on work performance. 

[source: Effects of Bluetooth-Enabled Desk Ellipticals on Office Work Performance: Rationale, Design, and Protocol for a Randomized Trial With Overweight and Obese Adults]

Although, as you can imagine, when there is a bit of resistance, it could be hard to type. Not just type, but talk as well. Perhaps, setting it to no resistance won’t affect work performance? 

As mentioned by one of the Business Insider staff, the height can be a factor when using the under desk exercise stepper, which can reduce work performance. Imagine hitting your desk every step with your knee.

Should you buy an under desk elliptical trainer?

The following are things you should consider if you are thinking of buying a desk elliptical trainer:

  • Price
  • Noise
  • Space
  • Height
  • Work performance


Under desk elliptical trainers are priced between $100 to $2000. I wouldn’t spend $2000 on an under desk elliptical. I would be happy to pay no more than $200. In saying that, there is a good entry point when considering a stepper for your under desk operations.


Most of the steppers, even cheap ones, are quiet. So, if you are worried about disturbing your office buddies, an under desk elliptical is neighbor-friendly.


Space is even more important to consider when you are all cramped in an aisle. Luckily, the stepper doesn’t take much space. They can measure around 60 cm wide, 50 cm lengthwise, 50 cm high. 

Your height

A good guideline is if you are more than 6 feet tall, don’t buy an under desk elliptical trainer. If you are just short of 6 feet, I would err on the side before taking out your wallet. You can always return it, but it’s a hassle in your already busy life.

Work performance

As mentioned, proper studies and research have not been adequately evaluated and haven’t reached completion. So, what do you do? Just buy the cheapest desk elliptical you can find and have a go. After a week of proper use and if it’s negatively impacting your work performance, return it. If you are unable to return it, sell it on eBay and get half of your money back at least.

Desk pedal: excellent exercise equipment for legs while sitting

What is a desk pedal? Desk pedal is also known as a desk exercise bike trainer or an under desk cycle.

No matter what you call it, it’s a piece of great exercise equipment for legs while sitting. Yes, better than the under desk elliptical.

The following are the reasons why I chose a desk pedal over an under desk elliptical machine:

  • Work performance
  • Space
  • Price
  • Noise

Work performance

One of the major reasons why I like this office exercise equipment is its impact on work performance.  

According to studies, there was no clear disadvantage in productivity when performing a pedal desk leg exercise compared to sitting down.

There was a negative difference in accuracy and typing speed, but it is minuscule. 

Table 2

Mean ± SD values for performances on the typing test, RAVLT, Stroop test, RCPT.

Sitting conditionCycling condition
Typing testAdjusted words per minute (n)44.3 ± 11.243.7 ± 12.6
RAVLTRepeated words (n)53.4 ± 10.054.6 ± 8.9
Recalled words (n)10.3 ± 3.19.9 ± 3.2
Correctly recognised words (n)13.5 ± 2.013.2 ± 2.3
Incorrectly recognised words (n)0.5 ± 0.80.5 ± 1.3
Stroop testACC Neutral stimuli (%)96.1 ± 3.796.0 ± 3.7
ACC Colour Congruent stimuli (%)97.8 ± 3.697.8 ± 3.3
ACC Colour Incongruent stimuli (%)94.9 ± 6.294.5 ± 5.0
ACC Word Congruent stimuli (%)97.8 ± 3.298.0 ± 2.8
ACC Word Incongruent stimuli (%)95.4 ± 6.095.5 ± 3.7
RT Neutral stimuli (ms)586.0 ± 80.6571.1 ± 95.2
RT Colour Congruent stimuli (ms)635.0 ± 134.3607.9 ± 108.0
RT Colour Incongruent stimuli (ms)766.3 ± 203.6748.6 ± 197.6
RT Word Congruent stimuli (ms)623.8 ± 96.8603.4 ± 87.7
RT Word Incongruent stimuli (ms)704.4 ± 111.4666.8 ± 113.8
RCPTACC (%)100.0 ± 0.299.8 ± 0.4
RT (ms)404.3 ± 36.4377.9 ± 27.7

[source: Cycling on a Bike Desk Positively Influences Cognitive Performance


Comparable to the elliptical but shorter. The Deskcycle measures in at 60 cm wide, 50 cm lengthwise, and 25 cm high.


You can buy an under desk bike trainer for less than $20. How cheap is that? You can gift everyone in the office at Christmas.


The Deskcycle brand is known to be quiet. I can’t speak for other brands, though. But if it’s too noisy, keep it at home. Consider buying a piece of quieter exercise equipment for legs while sitting.


Do under desk exercisers work? According to numerous studies, it does. And it’s important to understand that sitting down is the new smoking.

There is a detrimental effect on your health for being sedentary. The idea is to keep you moving throughout the day with these office exercise equipment. 

There is 3 major exercise equipment for the office cubicle that will keep you moving. They are the following:

  • Treadmill desk
  • Under desk exercise stepper
  • Desk pedal trainer

The best standing desk exercise equipment is the treadmill desk. The only thing I don’t like about the treadmill desk is the price. The cheapest on Amazon is $200 + shipping.

The second spot goes to the best exercise equipment for legs while sitting, which is the desk pedal exerciser. They are cheap, don’t require as much space, and doesn’t affect work performance. 

My least favorite office exercise equipment is the under desk elliptical. Perhaps it’s a personal preference. I just prefer walking and cycling over climbing stairs.

Look, all the above-mentioned office exercise equipment will keep you moving and help you burn extra calories while at work. 

Before buying, you can try them out at a sports or office retail shop first and see how it feels.

When choosing which office exercise equipment is for you, consider the cost and space. Also, how does it impact your work and your co-workers? Unless you have an office to yourself, consider the guy or gal sitting next to you.

You don’t need the stress over conflicts at work, which can lead to obesity and a whole array of other diseases.

Ladies and gents, gather round, I’ve got a tale to tell. Picture this: a body that refuses to bulk up, paired with a metabolism slower than a snail’s race to the finish line. It’s a curse, I tell ya! But fear not, my friends, for I took this challenge head-on and became a scholar in all things weight loss and nutrition. And now, I’m here to share my tales of triumph (and some struggles) with you all, so you too can finally achieve that bod of your dreams! flex (just kidding, still workin’ on it).

— Christian Tanobey

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