How To Choose A Desk Elliptical – Ultimate Buying Tips!

With the number of hours that we spend sitting at our desk is increasing, people are increasingly seeking ways to create an active workstation or home to introduce movement into their day. One popular option is the under desk elliptical. When buying one, you should know how to choose a desk elliptical.

Haven’t got time to exercise? Need to fit more steps into your day but don’t have the time? Want to introduce more activity into your stationary sitting position?

This might just be the very product for you!

Whether it’s for indoor exercise, under your desk or simply at home on your couch, there’s bound to be a desk elliptical that suits your needs and desires! But what should you look for when buying an under desk elliptical?

Fortunately for you, you are about to the treated to the complete buyers guide to desk ellipticals.

Find out why so many people are buying this popular product and what exactly to look for when choosing a desk elliptical.

Let’s get started!

Did you know? Peddling is associated with enhanced weight management, muscle development, cardiac health, in addition to improving energy levels and general mental health. Source

How To Choose A Desk Elliptical - Sunny Portable Stand-up Elliptical woman standing in sitting room

What are desk ellipticals?

The under desk elliptical is a miniature version of an elliptical which is designed to be portable and fit under a desk or alongside a chair. Desk ellipticals enable active sitting and a means of achieving indoor exercise. It features 2 pedals along with an LCD screen and a tension control knob to adjust the resistance of pedaling. 

These units are usually portable which allows you to move it between rooms or offices.

Types of Desk Ellipticals

Stationary desk ellipticals generally fall into 3 main categories:

Under Desk Ellipticals:Fit under your existing desk and is used with your current chair, they are not for standing on.
Sit-stand Desk Ellipticals: Can be used in a sitting or standing position.
Electric Desk Ellipticals: Can be operated by electricity to move the pedals and are available as either under desk ellipticals or sit-standing ellipticals.

How to Choose a Desk Elliptical?

In terms of what you should look for when choosing an under desk elliptical, primary concerns include purpose of desk elliptical, cost, noise levels and up the desk forward backward peddling and reliability. The below list highlights a comprehensive guide of factors to look out for when purchasing an under desk elliptical:

1. Intended purpose for desk elliptical

2. Pedals on desk elliptical

3. Desk elliptical standing feature

4. Noise of the desk elliptical

5. Resistance of desk elliptical

6. Cost of desk elliptical

7. Pedal height of desk elliptical 

8. Desk elliptical height suitability

9. Height of existing desk

10. Desk elliptical Bluetooth connectivity

11. Portability of desk elliptical

12. Storage of desk elliptical

13. Comfort of desk elliptical

14. Weight of desk elliptical

15. Weight capacity of desk elliptical

16. Quality of desk elliptical

17. Return policy

18. Warranty

Intended purpose for desk elliptical

The intended purpose of the desk elliptical is a paramount consideration when choosing the type of desk elliptical. In fact, after finding out about the must-have features of a desk elliptical, this should be the very next thing you should consider before you choose a product.

Answering the below queries will help narrow down your selection:

  1. Will I use the desk elliptical for exercise or to introduce movement into the area?
  2. Where will I be using it?
  3. Will I use it at a desk?
  4. Do I want to stand on the desk elliptical?
  5. Will it need to be suitable for an intense workout?

Pedals on desk elliptical

The texture and performance of the pedals will play a primary role in determining how comfortable the desk elliptical is to use. With cheaper ellipticals, the pedaling experience may not feel as smooth.

The pedals should also be non-slip to minimize your foot slipping while pedaling.

There should be adequate space on the elliptical pedal for your foot to fit. Pedals are usually well sized, so this shouldn’t pose an issue.

It should be a given that the pedals can operate forward and backwards, also known as bidirectional pedaling.

Tip: If the desk height is adjustable, pedal height and stride length on a desk elliptical become less significant since you can raise the desk to prevent knees hitting the desk.

How To Choose A Desk Elliptical - Sunny Portable Stand-up Elliptical

Desk elliptical standing feature

The majority of desk ellipticals only recommend sitting as you pedal. However, there are some that allow you to both sit and stand on the pedals while you cycle, such as the Cubii JR1, Fast88 Electric Desk Elliptical or the FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical.

Standing on a desk elliptical is usually associated with working out, but it also offers an extra posture that you can adopt and the freedom to take a break from sitting. Pedaling while standing also means that you can pedal at a standing desk.

Noise of the desk elliptical

Noise will be important if you work in a shared office, use it in a shared room or a noise-sensitive location. Not only that, but the last thing you want is a squeaking noise rumbling under you as you try to focus!

The majority of desk ellipticals boast being quiet, and this is true for the most part.

The ANCHEER Mini 2 in 1 Elliptical Trainer claims to have a noise level of < 30dB,
which is equivalent to a person whispering.

Some desk ellipticals will barely even be heard while using them.

However, standing on a desk elliptical will generate more noise due to the increased weight applied to the unit.

Furthermore, noise issues tend to arise after a period of use when parts start creaking and noising. This will ultimately boil down to choosing a good quality desk elliptical.

Moreover, a good customer service and warranty on parts will be important should this occur.

Normally, the higher the quality, the quieter the elliptical will be.

Tip: If noise or floor damage is a concern, you can place the elliptical on a mat to minimize it.

Resistance of desk elliptical

Depending on how light or intense you want the resistance to be, you can adjust the tension control by twisting the knob. Most desk ellipticals feature up to 8 different tension levels.

Level 1 usually offer minimal resistance and is better for cardio, whereas level 8 is mainly for muscle toning.

Generally, most people tend to opt for a light resistance, especially if they are working or focussing on a task. For many, the goal is to promote gentle movement, and it’s likely that you won’t be able to type or read very easily if you’re trying to be the world’s next Usain Bolt or bodybuilder!

Cost of desk elliptical

Desk ellipticals can range in price from as little as $98.99 – $418.00.

The price of desk ellipticals is relatively affordable when compared to other pieces of equipment which can introduce activity into your workplace or home.

For example, standing desks have an average price of $489.99. Desk exercise bikes have a lower starting price of $29.99 but can cost as much as $1599.99.

If cost is a constraint for you or is not within your control, there are desk ellipticals to suit most budgets.

Desk ellipticals do have a slightly higher starting price compared to under desk bikes, so if budget is a significant constraint for you, a desk bike might be more affordable option.

I completed a thorough cost analysis on desk ellipticals available, and I have arranged them order of least to most expensive.

Features that can increase the cost of under desk ellipticals includes opting for Bluetooth connectivity, this can add as much as $120 to the price.

Tip: Magnetic resistance ellipticals tend to require very little maintenance and are very durable too.

Pedal height of desk elliptical 

Pedal height plays a role in determining whether you’ll be able to comfortably sit under a desk without your knees coming into contact with the bottom of the desk.

Pedal height is an issue that affects taller users or people with desks lower than 27 inches.

Choosing an elliptical which features a low pedal height minimizes the likelihood of your knees banging the desk.

Fortunately, under desk ellipticals don’t raise your knees as much as under desk bikes and therefore require less clearance under your desk.

The FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical boasts that it features the lowest pedal rotation available at 8 inches. This means it can be used at a desk as low as 25 inches.

That said, if you don’t intend to use the desk elliptical at a desk, this becomes less concerning.

Tip: When pedaling at a desk, users will need about 2 – 3 inches of clearance between their knees and the desk.

Desk elliptical height suitability

Desk elliptical are able to accommodate most height ranges. However, to achieve optimal comfort, you’ll want a seat that positions you in a comfortable height range in respect to the desk elliptical.

Generally, this isn’t a major concern because people tend to use them in a range of locations, and manufacturers even advocate that they can be used at a standing desk, table, couch, and so on.

In contrast to desk bikes, the height range of the user of a mini elliptical is less of a constraint.

This is because the desk ellipticals don’t elevate your knees as much and create the potential for you to bang your knees off the desk.

Unlike desk bikes, desk ellipticals don’t have height adjustable features. This means they operate on a one size fits all basis. This can make the buying phase easier since you don’t have a choice on the height of the pedals being adjustable.

Furthermore, if the desk elliptical will be shared with multiple users, it won’t particularly matter since the suitability will be based on the height of the desk, seat and the leg length of the user. To give you some perspective, I have read reviews where kids of 3’7” were using under desk ellipticals.

Ideally, you’ll get to try the desk elliptical out for size, as you won’t truly know how suited it is to your body till you try it for a few days.

Height of existing desk

Most desk ellipticals accommodate the average height user at an office desk of approximately 28 – 30 inches. If you intend to use the item with an existing desk or table, you will need to be comfortably and ergonomically able to sit upright in line with the desk.

With an under desk elliptical, it’s important that the minimum height of the pedals will enable you to pedal without your knees banging off your desk.

Some desk ellipticals, such as the FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical, are even specifically designed to work with desks as low as 25 inches.

Choosing a desk elliptical that fits becomes much easier if you have a height-adjustable desk.

Higher tables or desks don’t tend to pose an issue. So you could easily use it at a kitchen desk  with a kitchen chair which is often lower than an office chair.

Tip: The average height of an office desk is between 28 – 30 inches tall.

Desk elliptical LCD display

All desk ellipticals feature a digital monitor which tracks your activity including:

  • Speed
  • Time
  • Distance
  • Calories burned

Ideally, the monitor should be within your vision and easy to access to prevent disruption while you pedal.

The only exception to this is the Cubii Pro which is an enhanced version of the Cubii JR1 as it doesn’t have an LCD monitor. Instead, it tracks activity via Bluetooth connectivity to your iPhone or Android phone.

However, if you’re not interested in connecting it to your phone, the Cubii JR1 will suit you perfectly.

How To Choose A Desk Elliptical - Sunny Portable Stand-up Elliptical digital monitor

Desk elliptical Bluetooth connectivity

With smart watches growing in popularity, it’s not surprising that desk ellipticals are becoming compatible with Bluetooth and apps. Now you can sync your under desk elliptical with your Fitbit to track your under desk activity and monitor how it contributes to factors including your overall steps and energy levels.

This feature is relatively new and only available in a limited number of under desk ellipticals, such as the Cubii Pro.

Portability of desk elliptical

Having a desk elliptical that’s portable can be extremely useful, especially if you intend to use it in a number of different rooms or offices. If it’s easier to move, then you’re less confined to cycling at one location and this increases the likelihood of using it.

Unlike the desk bikes which can feature seats and desks, the under desk ellipticals are all compact machines, meaning they can be carried to multiple desired locations, be it amongst different offices in work, or different room at home.

As you compare the dimensions between desk ellipticals, there are evidently differences, and their dimensions can vary as much as 10 inches in length.

However, if you’re not severely caught for space, the overall footprint should not pose an issue.

Some under desk ellipticals may come with a handle for easy carrying which makes it far easier to move around than trying to grab it in a safe hold. Such examples include:

Sunny Portable Stand Up Elliptical

Sunny Magnetic Under Desk Elliptical Peddler Exerciser

Storage of desk elliptical

The size of the desk elliptical will dictate how easily it can be stored. If space is limited or if you simply want to move it out of your way or out of sight, then you’ll need somewhere that can fit it neatly.

The compact size of desk ellipticals enables you to neatly fit it underneath your desk, under your bed or even at the bottom of your wardrobe or beside your couch.

You will want to have a dry, warm room for storing it in to ensure it doesn’t become subject to wet or damp conditions. Also, just to point out, these units are intended for indoor use.

Tip: If it doesn’t obstruct you while you sit and you have adequate space under your desk, the desk elliptical can be permanently stored there.

Comfort of desk elliptical

They key considerations with desk comfort include experiencing a smooth pedaling motion at an appropriate resistance level. It’s also important that if you’re pedalling at a desk, the pedal height is low enough so that you don’t hit your knees off the desk.

Stabilizers are a key component to preventing the desk elliptical from moving while you pedal. They also are a pivotal component in ensuring the elliptical is stable while you pedal and not swaying from side to side.

Opting for a wide stance stabilizer will contribute to increased stability.

Plus, inadequate resistance levels will pose issues too. For instance, I have read reviews where the first few resistance levels were too light and then the next level up was almost impossible to pedal.

Weight of desk elliptical

The weight of most desk ellipticals isn’t excessive and many of them weigh around 30 pounds, give or take. This means they can usually be carried easily enough from one location to another.

If you need something sturdy, then a heavier elliptical is more preferable.

So, if stability is as priority for you, a higher weighted elliptical will be sturdier and less liable to moving or wobbling. That said, it shouldn’t mean that you need to go and purchase the heaviest desk elliptical available! Something with wide stabilizers should suffice.

Weight capacity of desk elliptical

Since many desk ellipticals are not designed to have the user standing on them, the weight capacity is often not provided and is less of a consideration.

Most desk ellipticals which are designed for standing on have a weight limit around 220 – 250 lbs.

Exceeding the weight limit of a desk elliptical may not result in any damage or wear and tear if the weight limit is only slightly exceeded. The weight capacity does have a safety factor built in to account for such circumstances.

However, if weight capacity is surpassed significantly or frequently, it’s likely to result in a poorer user experience as the elliptical machine will probably feel insecure under you and it is liable to greater wear and tear.

It can jeopardize your safety, damage the reliability and warranty of the desk elliptical, and could even break the elliptical if too much weight is applied.

This could lead to significant injuries.

Tip: A good practice is to determine the weight that will be applied to the machine. Then add 10% to the weight to give yourself some extra flexibility and peace of mind.

Desk Elliptical Assembly

Practically all desk ellipticals require an element of assembly. Fortunately, under desk ellipticals require minimal assembly and should take approximately 10 minutes to assemble.

Although the Sunny Ellipticals come ready assembled for convenience.

For under desk elliptical pedal exercisers, you’ll generally need to attach the below components to the body of the unit:

  • pedals
  • front and rear stabilizer
  • glide rails
  • digital monitor stands

Desk Elliptical Return policy

If it’s your first time investing in a desk elliptical, then due to the uncertainty regarding whether you’ll end up liking the product, a return policy will be more important. The longer the return policy, the better.

Most companies offer a return policy of 30 days.

So, even if you realize that it isn’t suited, you can usually return it, often for no extra cost! Just make sure you verify the return policy before you pay!

Desk Elliptical Warranty

The standard guarantee provided with desk ellipticals is a 1-year warranty.

Some companies will further categorize this based on a shorter warranty for specific components. This is something that often catches people as the structural frame might be guaranteed for the year, but the pedals may break after 6 months, and they might only be covered for 3 months.

The under desk ellipticals features 2 pedals along with an LCD screen and a tension control knob to adjust the difficulty of pedaling. These units are usually portable which allows you to move it between rooms or offices.


Desk ellipticals are yet another means of introducing motion into an otherwise inactive seating posture. All 3 options grant you the luxury of active sitting; however, as you move from under desk ellipticals to desk ellipticals to workstation desk ellipticals, the price of each option increases, become less portable, require greater assembly and more space than the former.

If you’re eager to introduce movement into your workday, study, gaming or whatever static activity you perform, then desk ellipticals are one of a myriad of ways to get moving.

I have been actively researching numerous ways to introduce motion into my relatively static desk work, here’s what I’ve looked into so far in order of preference:

Standing desk converters

Ergonomic chairs

Standing desks

Desk bike

Kneeling chairs

Standing desk chairs

Anti-fatigue mats

Balance boards

That said, desk bikes seem to have the most positive reviews overall. So they might jump to the top of the list!

My personal favourite products so far are the Sunny Portable Stand Up Elliptical, Ergotron WorkFit-LX and the CoolMesh Pro Multi-Function Chair.

My aim with this website is to help you on all matters related to your home office and your work area. With that in mind, if you have any questions or comments on the above, please drop them in the box below. I’d love to hear them!


With years of both professional and first-hand experience in office equipment and work settings, I now want to help you avoid making mistakes that countless others do. Whether you're studying or working from home, this site will help you create the ultimate haven for working safely, comfortably and productively in!

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