Weight-loss value of under-desk pedaling?
December 29, 2012 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Is an under-desk pedal exerciser a worthwhile supplement to an existing weight-loss / exercise regimen?

I need to lose weight and I already have an elliptical and free-weight routine.

In addition to my "dedicated" workout time, I've been considering getting a small pedal exerciser (link is just the first example that came up) to do some lightweight exercise while I work at my computer. The idea is to add 1-3 hours of "idle" exercise during a normally-sedentary activity. But the reviews for these products imply that they are primarily used by the elderly and disabled (I am neither).

Of course I know that any exercise is better than being sedentary, but is it worthwhile to do 1-3 hours of medium (not-much-sweat) pedaling, compared with (for example) just adding an extra 10 minutes to my vigorous elliptical routine, or taking an occasional work-break to do a set of pushups?

P.S. I'm not interested in a walking desk, a computer stand for my elliptical, or any bulky equipment.
posted by Alabaster to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
From personal experience, I think it'd be more effective to ration 10-15 minutes to work out every few hours, rather than pedaling. You wouldn't need to buy more equipment, and you'd have the added plus of boosting your metabolism, while beating boredom.

During long shifts at the office, I looked forward to the quick bursts of energy and activity I'd get from my arranged exercise time. 15 minutes 3 times a day pretty much adds up to an additional workout. I used alot of her videos, and found them a good fit- moderate in difficulty.
posted by flying_trapeze at 8:26 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

Losing weight has way more to do with your diet than your exercise, so I'd stick with what you're currently doing and just make sure you're eating and drinking right. Save your money to spend on health food.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:43 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

It won't offer as much benefit in terms of weight loss as, say, skipping two or three snacks per week, and you'd be wise to steer clear of this kind of constant hip flexion movement if you have any lumbar/pelvic postural issues and/or history of knee injuries, but it's probably better than doing nothing. I would still rank buying one of these as about 90th down the list of priorities essential to successful weight loss, but if you see yourself using it, go for it.

Personally I opt for 3 minutes simple mobility work every hour or so; if you can get a tool that aids this (e.g. a desk-side clubbell or kettlebell for hip swings) you'd be much better off. I think the biggest problem with taking a palliative approach to sedentariness is that it can distract from the need to take very active measures. You have to ask yourself: is sitting there pedaling going to make it less likely you get up and move around as frequently as you should? Because nothing can be a replacement for that.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 10:45 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I purchased one of these and found it bulky and really hard to use. I stopped using it. Instead, I put a timer on my workdesk reminding me to stand every 20 minutes. While I stood, I rotated jumping jacks, toe touches, crunches, planks and leg lifts. It took all of 10 seconds and didn't bother anyone in my office.
posted by melodykramer at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let me say that there was much hilarity when I used one with my wheeled chair. I then tried it with a folding chair with again, much hilarity. I then donated it to my son's school and there was much rejoicing.
posted by jadepearl at 10:28 AM on December 30, 2012

I wasn't able to comfortably use mine under my desk because my knees banged into the desktop. If I got my chair low enough that my knees didn't hit, I wasn't sitting high enough to actually work.

I currently keep a couple of weighted balls under my desk and use them to roll my feet back and forth on, which, if you do it long enough, does feel like a bit of easy exercise. The balls are of a size to fit in your hand and are meant to take the place of light dumbbells, but I find them the perfect size and sturdiness for foot-rolling. I got mine at Wal-Mart a few years ago.

One thing I've done in the past at home is to replace my computer chair with an exercise ball, and use it to bounce a little or roll around to stretch my back while working. If your work involves a lot of keyboarding like mine does, moving around on the ball makes it hard to type. But sitting still on the ball is supposed to be good for your core, and you can always bounce a little when you are on the phone.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:47 PM on December 30, 2012

Much good advice above. Especially the periodic 15-minute breaks for movement. Are you in a building with stairs? Or can you walk a vigorous loop? Do you have space where you could use a hula hoop? (I have an infinity hoop that folds in half). I've had luck doing lunges to the copier and back. Or doing a wall-sit to read a document that doesn't require my computer. Stand whenever possible. Would you use Yoga Paws? Set alarms for yourself: drink water, do five pushups, hoop for five minutes. Consider talking to your supervisor about your wish to move more and then talk solutions. Bravo for thinking outside the box...keep doing that and you'll find other solutions!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:48 PM on December 30, 2012

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