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Which under-desk elliptical machines are best?

As people have become acutely aware of the adverse health effects that can result from long periods of sitting, a variety of devices that encourage activity at the desk have become increasingly available. Under-desk elliptical machines, for example, are a popular choice among people that want to remain active while they work.

The Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine fits discreetly under your workstation and connects to your favorite fitness apps via Bluetooth. Its quiet operation and lightweight make it ideal for use at the office or while watching TV.

What to consider before you buy an under-desk elliptical machine

Why sitting for long periods of time is harmful

According to scientists and health professionals, sitting for long periods of time is harmful enough for some to have deemed its effects to be as dangerous as smoking. While weight gain is an obvious and well-documented result of a sedentary lifestyle, research also suggests that prolonged periods of inactivity increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer. A general lack of activity has also been shown to decrease brain activity and potentially lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Moving is important

Many people think of exercise as hours spent in the gym or jogging around the neighborhood. While this kind of activity has countless benefits, the reality is that even small amounts of regular movement and activity can greatly decrease your risk for certain health conditions. The motion provided by an under-desk elliptical machine can form a foundational part of your daily activity.

Your expectations

Under-desk elliptical machines are designed to keep your blood pumping by providing a low impact way to engage your legs and lower body. For people at peak fitness, these devices will likely not create an experience that persuades them to cancel their gym membership. Under-desk ellipticals are great, however, for people who are not accustomed to exercise who want to begin to improve their health. Some more advanced models may also satisfy users who have more athletic experience on days when they are unable to participate in their usual routine.

What to look for in a quality under-desk elliptical machine

Weight and portability

Select an under-desk elliptical that is heavy enough to provide stability while being used, but light enough to move easily out of the way. Keep in mind that moving your elliptical will require you to bend down low enough to reach under your desk, so consider your ability to do so without straining your back.


Your under-desk elliptical should fit easily beneath your workstation while still allowing you to sit normally in your chair. If the device makes it uncomfortable to sit, you likely won’t use it regularly. Be sure that it allows for adequate clearance for your legs and knees under your desk.

Resistance options

Many under-desk ellipticals feature the option to adjust the resistance to your liking. Choosing a device that allows for a wide range of resistance options lets you increase the difficulty as your body becomes used to the exercise. This means that you can continue to progress without having to upgrade the machine.


Many ellipticals include an LCD display that shows the distance traveled, calories burned and resistance level. If you are interested in charting your progress, a device with a display will allow you to monitor your information. The area under your desk will typically not be well lit, so an illuminated display is also beneficial.


Some under desk ellipticals connect to fitness apps like FitBit via Bluetooth. This allows you to more accurately track your progress.


For those who intend to use their elliptical at the office or while on calls, you will want to select a model with a reputation for quiet operation. Loud equipment is disruptive to others.

How much you can expect to spend on an under-desk elliptical machine

Under-desk ellipticals can be purchased for $100–$350. More expensive models will include more features and be more durable.

Under-desk elliptical machine FAQ

Can I get fit using an under-desk elliptical machine?

A. Physical fitness largely comes down to the individual, with everybody responding differently to exercise. However, for those who have not been working out regularly or are overweight, the incorporation of an under-desk elliptical can help form the foundation of their path to better health. 

Is an under-desk elliptical machine safe on your knees?

A. All elliptical machines provide an impact free workout. They put less strain and stress on your joints, thanks to their smooth, circular motion. Be sure to consult with a doctor before engaging in physical activity of any kind.

Can I stand on an under-desk elliptical machine?

A. Some under-desk elliptical models allow you to stand while using them. These are ideal for users who prefer standing desks. Balance and practice may be required, however, so be sure to only attempt to use your device while standing after practice.

What’s the best under-desk elliptical machine to buy?

Top under-desk elliptical machine

Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine

Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine

What you need to know: This machine is lightweight, compact and can connect to fitness apps via Bluetooth. 

What you’ll love: This whisper-quiet under-desk elliptical connects to your favorite fitness tracking apps so you can easily monitor your progress. It is available in three colors.

What you should consider: This elliptical is for use while sitting only and is more expensive than similar models.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top under-desk elliptical machine for the money

Stamina 55-1602 Inmotion Elliptical

Stamina 55-1602 Inmotion Elliptical

What you need to know: This budget-friendly elliptical machine can be used standing up or sitting down.

What you’ll love: Available in three colors, this model allows for custom resistance and features an LCD display. It is light, portable and constructed from heavy-duty steel.

What you should consider: Users report that this elliptical is noisy and needs to be lubricated. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Stamina InMotion Compact Strider with Cords

Stamina InMotion Compact Strider with Cords

What you need to know: This under-desk elliptical machine features resistance bands that allow you to work out your upper body as well as your legs. 

What you’ll love: This machine comes with a workout DVD. It includes adjustable resistance and an LCD display.

What you should consider: This model’s LCD display is very small and may be hard to read for some users. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Under-desk elliptical tips

  • Keep safety in mind. Not everyone can jump right into a workout. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about your health or safety.
  • Start slow. When beginning a new workout routine, you may be tempted to increase resistance and difficulty right off the bat. However, this will result in soreness that might make it hard to keep up the work. Start slowly to determine the best settings for you.
  • Store your device out of the way. Under desk equipment can pose a tripping hazard if left in areas where people will be walking. When not in use, be sure to keep your machine out of traffic.

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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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