Love working out but stuck behind a desk all day? There are plenty of ways to get a bit more activity in your day… You can take a walking lunch break. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do 10 pushups (or more) every time you go to the bathroom…
Or you can shop for the best under-desk elliptical. This handy little exercise machine fits easily underneath your desk and allows you to keep moving all day long, not just when you aren’t seated.
You aren’t going to be breaking performance records with these. But you will be able to stay moving throughout the day, prevent stiff legs, keep your circulation going, and burn enough extra calories to help get closer to any weight loss goals you may have.
They may be small machines, but some are still better quality than others! Here are the ones we recommend considering if you want to stay active without leaving your desk.
- In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks
- Why Trust BoxLife?
- Who Should Choose an Under Desk Elliptical?
- How We Chose the Best Under-Desk Ellipticals
- How We Tested Them
- The Under Desk Elliptical – Our Top Picks
- Orbitrek MX Motorized Under Desk Elliptical Machine – Best for Seniors
- Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For In An Under Desk Elliptical
In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks
|Product Image||Product Name / Primary Rating / Primary Button|
Why Trust BoxLife?
The BoxLife team eats, sleeps, breathes, and lives fitness. If there’s a way to get some extra movement in your day, burn a few more calories, or hack your system to reach your fitness goals faster, we know it… And we’ve probably tried it!
We’ve also got a ton of experience on almost every piece of fitness equipment out there. Between our team members, we know the ins and outs of most cardio machines… Including those that people don’t consider to be “real” fitness machines.
We get excited about machine features. We pore over user manuals. The conversations we have would probably bore most people… But we’re passionate about fitness, health, and the tools you can use to achieve them!
Who Should Choose an Under Desk Elliptical?
Under desk ellipticals are a handy concept for people who spend a lot of time seated. If you work in an office and spend the majority of the day behind a desk, this kind of exercise machine could be something to help prevent stiff legs and tingly feet.
It’s also a good idea for those who work from home and want a bit more movement in their day. Seniors may also benefit from an under desk elliptical if they struggle with mobility, as they can get regular exercise while seated comfortably and safely.
Also, those who are usually active in various ways but are injured at the moment might find this kind of device very handy for rehab. It’s a low-impact workout and safe way of staying active, especially good for keeping ankles and knees moving.
How We Chose the Best Under-Desk Ellipticals
Our team came together and listed all the under desk ellipticals we’d tried before. We reached out to people we knew and asked them about their own experiences with these mini ellipticals.
Once we had a decent-sized list, we turned to the internet to help us narrow it down. Amazon, Walmart, sports retailers, Quora, Reddit… We scoured the net to find where the fitness lovers were hiding and checked out their opinions on these small but mighty machines.
This helped us to really nail down the key features that people loved, as well as any potential red flags that could be problematic. But that’s not all—we also devoured user manuals and real-people reviews so we could bring you the most accurate, up to date information possible.
How We Tested Them
They may be small, but you still need to make sure you’re buying a good quality under desk elliptical. Here are the key features we tested on each one of these machines:
- Noise Level
- Resistance Levels
- Built-In Programs
The Under Desk Elliptical – Our Top Picks
Cubii JR2+ – Best Overall
The Cubii JR2+ has everything you need to stay active during the day if you have to sit at a desk.
- Many programs to choose from in the Cubii app
- 8 levels of quiet magnetic resistance
- The included rubber office chair attachment doesn’t work well on chairs with wheels
The Cubii JR2+ is a popular choice. It’s compact enough to use anywhere, but not so chunky that it gets in the way. A handy built-in handle means you can easily take it with you to the office, on vacation, or anywhere else you might want to use it.
One of the nice things about it is that it runs pretty quietly. It only makes a hum about the same loudness as a small fan, so wherever you are, it won’t be likely to disturb anyone around you.
There are 8 levels of magnetic resistance, so you can adjust it to your own liking. We love that it has a belt-drive system with the ZeroGravitii flywheel, which makes it very smooth and contributes to the quietness of the machine.
The oversized pedals have a stride length of about 6 inches, which is great for using while seated. They’re strapless and feature a textured surface, so your feet should have no issue staying put even though they don’t have straps. Plus, the rubber grips underneath mean you can push down on the pedals without it sliding around.
While there are no built-in programs on this elliptical, it comes with the Cubii Studio+ app. It’s free, and allows you to choose from hundreds of workouts, including group classes, live follow-along workouts, and fitness challenges.
An easy-to-see LCD display screen allows you to track time, distance pedaled, and calories burned. Plus, it comes with a chair attachment that helps you stay at the right distance from the elliptical at all times. Be aware that it doesn’t work well with wheeled chairs!
It’s important to note that although this mini elliptical has a maximum user weight capacity of 250 pounds, it’s not designed for standing on.
|Pedals||12-inches high, large, strapless, 6-inch stride length|
|Noise Level||About the same as a small fan|
|Resistance Levels||8 levels of resistance|
|Grip||Rubber grips underneath|
|Built-In Programs||None, but many in the Cubii app|
The Perfect Under-Desk Companion
The Cubii JR2+ has everything you need to stay active during the day if you have to sit at a desk. It’s a quiet, smooth piece of exercise equipment, and the accompanying free app is a huge bonus. Highly recommended!
Sunny Health & Fitness SitFit Electric Motorized Under Desk Elliptical – Most Resistance Levels
Good choice for those who want something more to push against while pedaling.
- 18 resistance levels
- Allows for forward and backward pedaling
- At 25 pounds, it’s not easy to move or shift aside
The Sunny Health & Fitness SitFit is an excellent choice if you want some resistance variation that you can really push against. With 18 adjustable resistance levels, you can really dial it up for a bit of an increased workout.
We love that you can pedal both forward and backwards on this mini elliptical. It adds something extra and helps you to work your muscles in a slightly different way. Plus, choose from 3 preset workout programs, or run it on manual. If you do want to change workouts, you can use the included remote controller without having to bend, which is great for those who may have limited mobility.
With nicely-sized pedals that feature a 7-inch stride length, you should be comfortable on this machine. They have a light texture to keep your feet in place and a lip around the heel so you can rest your feet when you need a break.
We like that the maximum pedal height is just 7 inches, so it should leave you with enough space for your knees to move up and down… But use caution if you have a desk with a pull-out keyboard tray.
With a built-in handle, you can move this around if you want to. But it weighs 25 pounds, so it’s not easy to just shift out of the way. The elliptical does have a built-in safety feature—if it tilts, overheats, or detects an obstruction, it stops automatically.
|Pedals||7-inches high, oversized, non-slip, 7-inch stride length|
|Resistance Levels||18 levels of resistance|
|Built-In Programs||3 preset programs, plus forward and backward pedaling|
|Warranty||1-year structural frame, 180 days other parts and components|
Surprisingly Good Workout
Between the 18 resistance levels, forward and backward pedaling, and remote control usage, you can get a surprisingly good workout on this small elliptical machine!
Stamina Inmotion E1000 Compact Strider – Most Versatile
The thing we love most about this little elliptical is that you can use it seated or standing. It’s an excellent option for those who like the idea of working at a standing desk, and it also makes it a lot more versatile than some others.
The foot pedals are of a decent size and have a ridge around the entire pedal, so your feet can’t slide off at any time. A slight ridged texture on the surface of the pedal helps your feet to stay put while you’re pedaling.
If you’re going to be using it for standing workouts, make sure you don’t exceed the 250-lb weight limit. To keep the machine stable as you’re pedaling, it comes with a foam pad underneath it so it doesn’t slide around on slippery floors.
Note that the magnetic resistance dial doesn’t show a range of resistance levels—it has no numbers on it. It does offer a decent bit of resistance, but you might find it hard to set to the same thing every time you use it.
You can also pedal both forward and backwards, which adds an extra element to your training. There are no built-in workouts, but you will get access to the müüv app, which is a smart audio coaching app.
As it’s an audio app, you won’t necessarily be able to use it at work. But, the downside of this elliptical is that it doesn’t come with a handle, so it’s not the easiest to move around. So it may not be the best choice for an office—it’s probably best for those who work from home.
|Pedals||Sizable non-slip pedals|
|Noise Level||Quiet, may get louder as it gets older|
|Resistance Levels||Magnetic resistance|
|Grip||Foam pad underneath|
|Built-In Programs||Free access to 2 videos, plus smart audio coaching app, müüv|
|Warranty||1-year frame, 90 days parts|
Great for Working from Home
People who work from home and like to switch between standing and sitting will enjoy this under-desk elliptical. Between the standing and seated options, the backward and forward pedaling, and the audio coaching app, it’s got ample features.
jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical – Best Adjustable Pedals
Most under-desk ellipticals have a much shorter stride length than regular elliptical machines, because when you’re sitting, your range of motion is less. But the typical 6 to 7 inches might not be enough for everyone, which is why we love the longer stride length on the jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical.
The pedals are the best feature of this machine. One, you can adjust the stride length between 10 and 15 inches, which is excellent for taller users who have a naturally long stride even when seated.
Secondly, you can adjust the angle of the pedal to accommodate your own comfort levels. No more numb, sore feet! Plus, you can pedal in both directions. Note that if standing, the machine can handle a weight of 250 pounds maximum.
The adjustable magnetic resistance offers enough force to give you a good exercise. Keep in mind that the distance displayed on the LCD monitor is in kilometers, and not miles. It doesn’t seem to be changeable. Don’t get a fright when it looks like you’ve done much less than you thought!
Additional features include capped, padded rear feet for stability on most surfaces, rear transportation wheels and an ergonomic handle for easy moving, compatibility with wheeled chairs, and it should come with oil for lubricating if it starts to squeak.
|Pedals||Max 9 inches step-up height, stride length between 10 and 15 inches, adjustable pedal angle|
|Noise Level||Very quiet, may need oiling to prevent squeaking|
|Resistance Levels||Adjustable magnetic resistance|
|Grip||Capped and padded rear feet for stability|
|Portability||Ergonomic handle, rear wheels for easy movement, and office chair attachment|
|Warranty||1-year frame, 90-day parts|
Excellent Pedals, Making It Versatile
This little elliptical is very adjustable. Set the stride length to what suits you—between 10 and 15 inches—adjust the angle of the pedals for comfortable use, and use the adjustable tension knob to choose your resistance. Bi-directional pedals and the ability to use it while standing make it very versatile!
Orbitrek MX Motorized Under Desk Elliptical Machine – Best for Seniors
Seniors or those who have severe leg and foot problems will appreciate this device.
- Motorized forward and backward pedal motions
- 12-inch pedals are non-slip so you can pedal hard safely
- No carry handle
Seniors or those who have severe leg and foot problems will appreciate this device. The Orbitrek MX is a motorized under-desk elliptical—or, some call it an under-desk cycle machine.
Being motorized means that the pedals turn on their own when you plug it into a power supply. This is great for those who don’t have the strength to pedal on their own, or who have foot or leg issues that make it hard to push.
Simply place your feet on the 12-inch, non-slip foot pedals and let them move with the smooth gliding motion. It’s a super way to keep your feet and knee joints moving and improve your circulation while seated.
The pedals also move both forward and backward, so you can change it up here and there. There are 5 resistance levels and 3 pre-programmed workouts that you can scroll through using a handy remote, so you don’t even have to bend down.
If you do want to use it without electricity, it does work manually. But you’ll need to be able to push the pedals on your own.
Although the machine comes with a weight capacity of 440 pounds, it’s not meant to be used while standing. Also, there’s no built-in carry handle on this one, so it might be tricky to move around.
|Pedals||Non-slip, 12 x 4 inches in size|
|Noise Level||Fairly quiet motor|
|Resistance Levels||5 levels of resistance|
|Built-In Programs||3 built-in programs|
We love that this elliptical is motorized. This is invaluable for those who have trouble pushing down on the pedals for any reason, helping them to continue getting movement every day without aggravating injuries or hurting muscles and joints.
Exerpeutic 900E Exerwork – Best With No Screen
If you aren’t too concerned with fitness metrics like time, distance, and calories burned—or if you have a smartwatch or something that tracks that for you—there’s no need for a screen on one of these devices.
The Exerpeutic 900E Exerwork is a simple machine without a built-in screen. It’s got a bunch of great features, though, including 14 resistance levels that can be easily adjusted with the sizable twisting knob.
You can download the free MyCloudFitness app, which will track your time, distance, and calories and also gives you access to 3 preset workout programs. This is also handy because there’s no need to bend down to check the electronic display on the machine if you want to see your data.
It’s also a very stable under-desk machine. It has a wide, stable base and shouldn’t rock while you’re using it. It’s got a rubber pad and rubber feet underneath to keep it from sliding, and we like that it’s got a large metal hook that doubles up as an office chair attachment and a carry handle.
The machine weighs over 30 pounds, though, so it might not be easy to move from room to room as it doesn’t have transportation wheels.
|Pedals||Max step-up height 10.5 inches|
|Noise Level||Fairly quiet|
|Resistance Levels||14 levels of magnetic resistance|
|Grip||Rubber feet and desk chair attachment for stability|
|Portability||Easy carry handle|
|Built-In Programs||3 built-in programs in MyCloudFitness app|
Great If You Don’t Need a Screen
Considering the screen on these little machines aren’t usually super comprehensive, this one doesn’t even miss it. It’s got some great features and a handy app so you don’t miss out on any metrics.
Ancheer Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine – Best Portable
This is a lightweight machine that's easy to carry around, especially for older people.
- Lightweight design is easy to move around
- Longer-than-average pedals with textured surface keep your feet steady
- No heel lip so your feet have nowhere to rest when you stop pedaling
This elliptical weighs just 20 lbs and there’s an ergonomic handle so you can move it around pretty easily. If you want to take it from your home desk to work to the couch and back, it’s easy to do so.
It comes fully assembled, so there’s no work to be done other than plugging it when it arrives. You can also use it without plugging it in, but you won’t be able to switch between the 5 levels of resistance in manual mode.
With 3 preloaded programs, you can simply plug and play without much of a learning curve. The oversized pedals move both forwards and backwards, so you have a lot of options with this little machine.
You might struggle to see the data on the digital monitor if you’re sitting on the sofa, because of the angle of the surface. You can use the remote to change settings, so you don’t have to bend down to push buttons. Note that the beeps can be quite loud, so be careful using it in an office.
|Pedals||14 inches long, non-slip, with a stride length of 7 inches|
|Noise Level||Elliptical is quiet but beeps from remote are fairly loud|
|Resistance Levels||5 levels of resistance|
|Grip||Non-slip rubber underneath|
|Built-In Programs||3 preset programs, forward/backward pedaling|
Great for Taking Around With You
This is the most lightweight under-desk elliptical on this list, so it’s a good choice if you’re planning on using it at home, in the office, on vacation, or anywhere else. Plus, it’s got enough features for you to get some good activity in your day.
Buyer’s Guide: What To Look For In An Under Desk Elliptical
Planning on getting an under desk elliptical to boost your daily movement? While we’re a fan of the 7 on this list, if you want to shop around a little, here’s what you should consider.
The pedals should be sizeable enough to be comfortable. Although you won’t be going fast on this machine, textured pedals are always a bonus to keep your feet from sliding around.
You can also consider the pedal height. In this case, you won’t need to step onto the elliptical to use it, but if the pedals are too high under your desk, your knees will be hitting the underside of your table!
You might need to do some mathematics to make sure your knees will have enough space underneath your desk before choosing one to invest in.
If you’re going to be using this exercise machine in an office, it’s important that it’s quiet. You don’t want something that’s going to disrupt the office or annoy other people, so noise level is important in this context.
On the other hand, if you’re only planning on using it in the comfort of your own home, noise level might not be such a big deal. The sound will easily be drowned out by the TV, but if your partner is likely to be sleeping in the same room during your exercise time, you may still need to consider it when shopping.
Even though you’re not likely to be doing intense workouts, you still need to find the level of resistance that makes for a comfortable motion for you.
Most under desk machines have fewer resistance levels than regular ellipticals. But you won’t really need that many—most have between 3 and 8 to choose from.
Just a few different choices can help when you’re having a day when your legs feel a bit heavy and you want an easy pedal. Or, if you’re feeling pretty energetic, you can always boost the resistance and burn a few more calories.
You don’t want the elliptical to be sliding around under your desk while you’re pedaling! It should have a decent grip on the floor, so it stays put even if you pedal a bit harder.
You can always improve the grip by adding a rubber mat underneath the elliptical, though. It depends on you and where you’ll be using it as to how important the underside grip is.
If you want to be using your mini elliptical machine in the office, it needs to be easy to move around with you. Some of them come with a handy built-in carry handle, and most of them aren’t too heavy.
But if you only want to use it at home, you don’t really need any portability features. It really depends on your goals and your plans for using it.
Under desk ellipticals generally don’t have as many preset workout programs as full-size ellipticals. But because you’re not exercising for performance or speed here, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Most of them have a few programs to choose from, which could add some variety to your daily pedaling. But it’s not an absolute requirement for this kind of machine.
A good warranty is always a sign that the company is confident in the quality of their fitness equipment. It also gives you some piece of mind when you spend money on a machine that should anything go wrong, you’ll be covered. The majority of these machines offer a 1-year warranty.
Is an Under Desk Elliptical Worth It?
If your goal is to move more during your day, then yes, an under desk elliptical is worth it. They’re generally a less expensive option, and can make a big difference to how you feel on a daily basis.
However, if your goal is to build muscle, boost your fitness level, increase your exercise performance, or build a consistent and effective exercise routine, then an under desk elliptical probably won’t be worth what you pay for it.
How Many Calories Can You Burn Using an Under Desk Elliptical?
Burning calories on an under desk elliptical is a much slower process than on the full elliptical, because you won’t be getting your heart rate up. But the total calorie burn can be significant—up to 150 calories per hour, if you pedal consistently and at a decent pace.
That means that if you’re pedaling for 30 minutes out of every hour, at the end of an 8-hour work day, you’ll have burned an extra 600 calories! It’s not realistic for everyone to expect that they’ll be pedaling for 4 hours out of their day, but the calorie-burning potential is there!
Is It Harder to Type With an Under Desk Elliptical?
This really depends on the person. In most cases, if you’re pedaling at a moderate pace, you should be fine to type—you’re only moving your lower half, so it shouldn’t be shaking up your upper body.
The biggest issue may be getting into the habit of pedaling while you’re typing. When you’re focused on what your fingers are doing and what’s happening on your screen, it can be easy to sometimes forget that you’ve got pedals beneath you!
If you find it difficult to pedal consistently while you’re working, or if the under desk machine does interfere with your typing, you can always keep it for while you’re relaxing in front of the TV or doing something more mindless while in a seated position.
Can You Stand On an Under Desk Elliptical?
Some under-desk ellipticals can be used with a standing desk. However, not all of them are designed for this purpose, so make sure that the one you choose is suitable for standing if that’s what you want to do.