What Is An Under Desk Elliptical? – Quick Guide & Video!

If you’re wondering, “what is an under desk elliptical?”, then you’re not alone! Get a run down on the features and purposes of mini ellipticals in this very article. This guide will bring you through the most popular types of desk elliptical along with why you would buy one and whether they are any good at introducing fitness into you daily life.

So, you can increase activity while working or from the comfort of your couch? There must be a catch!

Well let’s dive in and see! Read on to find out precisely what a mini desk elliptical is, why desk elliptical are so popular and whether one might be suited to you.

I also discuss the differences between an elliptical v steppers.

Plus, I divulge tips and tricks which will get you thinking whether you’re purchasing or using a desk elliptical.

What Is An Under Desk Elliptical? - Sunny Portable Stand-up Elliptical

Did you know? Pedaling is associated with improved weight control, increased leg strength, cardiac health, as well as boosting energy levels and improving general mental health. Source

What is an under desk elliptical?

A desk elliptical encompasses the footplate section of a standard elliptical to make for a more compact elliptical which can be used and stored at home or in the office. The portable elliptical is a convenient way of increasing your activity and fitness levels from the comfort of your home or office. Mini elliptical designed to promote gentle to moderate bodily movement and increase circulation by allowing you to pedal while you are in a sedentary seated position. They also enable a decent indoor workout, albeit not as intense or effective as a full-size elliptical machine. Desk elliptical can be used in a variety of places including under a desk, on the couch, while watching TV or even in your kitchen.

What is the purpose of a desk elliptical?

The desk elliptical is designed to encourage a light to moderate level of peddling intensity while you sit or stand. This encourages an active sitting system and allows you to increase energy expenditure and encourage blood circulation as opposed to just sitting still. The extra movement contributes to weight loss, increase blood flow, increase energy levels, and it can also contribute to your activity levels throughout the day. These are not as intense as a full elliptical and are less effective at building muscle and toning. However, for people who are relatively inactive or prescribed these for physical therapy, desk elliptical can be a useful machine.

Who are desk elliptical suitable for?

Desk elliptical can be used by practically anyone with the mobility to pedal. This means that they can be shared amongst the family or office.

Examples of people that desk elliptical are suitable for include:

  1. children tall enough and mature enough to use it safely
  2. teenagers while gaming or studying
  3. adults while working or relaxing
  4. elderly people seeking light exercise
  5. people who need one for physical therapy
  6. individuals who want to exercise while performing stationery tasks
  7. people looking to exercise without leaving their house
  8. fitness enthusiasts looking to increase their steps or NEAT

Most desk elliptical don’t provide a minimum or maximum height of individual that they are suited to as they tend to be a one size fits all machine. However, you will require adequate clearance between your knees and desk to prevent knees banging off your desk.

There are even pink Under Desk Ellipticals for those of you looking to turn heads or those who just love pink!

Types of desk elliptical

Desk elliptical typically fall into 2 main categories:

1. Under desk elliptical: Designed for seated peddling only and can be used with most types of chairs. The under desk elliptical cannot be stood on. It’s typically used at a home or office desk for light movement.

2. Sitting/standing desk elliptical: Enable the user to alternate between peddling either in a sitting or standing position. This means that you can complete an intense workout standing or less intense workout or light activity while seated on a chair.

Both options grant you the freedom of active sitting; however, it’s best to opt for a product that meets your requirements as opposed to choosing a desk elliptical that covers both sitting and standing.

Below is an image of my recommended sit/standing desk elliptical: 

Sunny Portable Stand Up Elliptical

What Is An Under Desk Elliptical? - Sunny Portable Stand-up Elliptical woman standing v sitting

Under desk elliptical

The under desk elliptical features 2 large pedals along with a digital monitor for tracking activity and a tension control knob to adjust the resistance levels when pedaling. These units are usually portable which permits them to be moved between rooms or offices. They are often categorized along with desk bikes, however there are some key differences between the features of desk bikes and desk elliptical.

Their compact size allows them to be positioned and stored neatly underneath your desk, under your bed or even at the bottom of your wardrobe or stairs.

Features on a desk elliptical


The pedals tend to offer a large footprint (no pun intended) and accommodate large feet. They also tend to have non-slip grips to prevent your foot from slipping while pedaling.

Unlike desk bikes, the pedals usually lack straps to secure your foot in place. Furthermore, the under-desk elliptical is not designed to be used for your arms.

Digital Monitor:

Display monitors are present on all desk elliptical, with the exception of the Cubii Pro which tracks your activity via your iPhone or Android phone.

Digital monitors display your speed, distance time and calories burnt (which I’d take with a grain of salt).

Tension Control Adjustment:

Depending on how intense you want the peddling to be, you can increase the resistance with the twist of a tension control knob. This usually offers up to 8 different tension levels.

Many users will hover on the lower levels of resistance which will enable them to pedal without being too distracted while they work.


Despite being relatively small in size, the compact elliptical can be awkward to lift. Manufacturers have recognized this and many products now come equipped with a handle.

Non-slip rubber cups:

In order to minimize the elliptical moving as you pedal, the stabilizers are equipped with rubber feet to secure them in place. These also help to absorb shock which could occur when pedaling, especially on an uneven surface.

Furthermore, they also minimize floor damage by preventing scratching or streaks from the weight and force on the mini elliptical.


Very few mini elliptical include wheels, one example is the Jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper. The wheels enable you to move the product through the room with ease, instead of lifting it.

It’s also extremely useful when you are trying to position the under desk elliptical in respect to your chair and desk since you may need to move it in or out a few inches to find the sweet spot.

Bluetooth Compatible:

Bluetooth compatibility on a desk elliptical is pretty rare yet. The only product I have found with this ability is the Cubii Pro; it enables you to log your daily pedaling so you can track with greater accuracy and monitor your steps, calories, distance and minutes.

What Is An Under Desk Elliptical? - Sunny Portable Stand-up Elliptical features

Can you use a desk elliptical all day?

While some people argue that they can use a desk elliptical all day and barely even notice, as with any position you adopt, it is prudent to take regular breaks along with modifying your posture on a frequent basis.

Tip: It’s recommended that people alternate their posture every 20 minutes or so to encourage blood flow.

Where can I use a desk elliptical?

Mini elliptical can be used in a broad range of environments both at home and at work, not merely in office areas.

Alternative places you can use a desk elliptical include:

  1. working or studying at a desk
  2. watching TV
  3. at your kitchen table
  4. while relaxing on the couch
  5. on their own in a room
  6. as a portable workstation
  7. outdoors in dry weather
  8. while looking at a book/phone
  9. while gaming
  10. at a sewing machine
  11. at a workshop
  12. in a meeting room

What is the difference between an elliptical and a stepper?

While their appearance and the activity involved in operating a mini elliptical and mini stepper may look almost identical, there are some nuances in how they work and what body parts they target.

A desk elliptical operates by propelling the legs either through a forward or backward oval pedal rotation basis. In contrast, the mini stepper lifts the body by enabling an up and down pedal motion when used. Both legs are constantly working equally to achieve the arc rotation on the mini elliptical. However, as the pedal compresses on the stepper, the weight of the user is shifted to the lower leg and essentially puts it under more force than the higher leg.

Furthermore, the body parts targeted by a desk elliptical also differs. The desk elliptical targets:

  1. Core
  2. Glutes
  3. Hamstring (back of thighs)
  4. Quadriceps (front of thighs)
  5. Calves (lower back leg)

The mini stepper targets the below body parts:

  1. Core
  2. Quadriceps
  3. Glutes
  4. Hip flexors
  5. Calves


Desk elliptical are an excellent piece of equipment which offers low impact activity to your home or office. Whether it’s to be used as a method of introducing movement into an otherwise sedentary posture, to efficiently get your steps in while you work or an indoor workout,
mini elliptical can make your life healthier!

Hopefully you found this guide valuable and learned something new! Do you own a desk elliptical or are you considering buying one?

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

I have been actively researching the various ways to introduce motion to my sedentary desk life for the past few years. Below are what I have looked into so far in order of preference:

  1. Standing desk converters
  2. Ergonomic chairs
  3. Standing desks
  4. Kneeling chairs
  5. Standing desk chairs
  6. Anti-fatigue mats
  7. Balance boards

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

My goal 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 queries or comments on the above, or anything else, drop them in the box below. I’d love to hear from you!


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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