under-desk exercise thingies: anecdata
April 27, 2021 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Have you tried any of the under-desk exercise thingies, like the bike wheels? Are they useful? Are there other types?

I used to run for my exercise. Now due to injuries, I can't. I sit at my desk a lot. I do walk and swim when I can, but it's not nearly enough. Looking for anecdata about using under-desk exercise doohickeys. I don't expect them to substitute for real exercise, but do they help at all, even for, like, circulation? Can you concentrate on real work while using them? Are there options other than the bike pedals?

I know standing desks are not for me, so that won't work. Has to be something that can be done while sitting.
posted by fingersandtoes to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I used to keep a couple of small sturdy balls under my desk, and use them to roll my feet on while working. It served the dual purpose of massaging my feet and also keeping my legs moving around a bit. It wasn't exercise like walking is exercise, but I do think it is good for circulation.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:58 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had one of the under-desk cycle things a d found it worthless except as the leg equivalent of a fidget spinner. However, I have an older model of the FitDesk and like it a lot, I’ve had it for probably 10 years now! I don’t personally find I can focus much with typing emails, working on files, etc on a laptop while biking, but it’s good for conference calls, training meetings, etc. Or I’ll ride it while idly web surfing or playing casual games on my phone and it’s awesome having the distraction + exercise. According to my Apple Watch it’s getting my heart rate up appropriately as long as I pedal at a decent speed.
posted by music for skeletons at 8:58 AM on April 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have one of these - the Cubii Jr, to be exact - and it is superb. Whisper quiet, very solid, easy on the knees, nothing like the rickety, sole-of-the-foot-destroying bike pedal ones, and I barely notice I'm using it.

Yesterday I pedalled for over 2 hours without noticing and burned off over 400 calories. How accurate the calorie amounts are I don't know, but peddling continuously for 2 hours is going to burn off a decent chunk no matter what the screen says. I bought mine because I was getting jiggly legs from sitting all day (thanks pandemic) at my desk while WFH. It works, and then some.

The cost is decent, but the build quality is excellent and there are many, many reviews on Amazon and the like. So far it's been a month and my initial scepticism about the gushing reviews has been proven wrong. I'm a complete convert.
posted by underclocked at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm using one as I write this. The big problem for me is that I have long legs, and so it's hard to actually pedal *under* the desk. I have to scoot my chair back, and then it's fine, but it's hard to reach my keyboard. This is the big reason I don't do it more. I did order a wireless keyboard (to be delivered today - another thing I'm doing as I write this), so maybe that will help a little, but for now, I use it mainly when I don't need to type, which unfortunately isn't very often. If I'm on a conference call where I don't have to either present or take notes, I'll pedal sometimes, and it's easy to follow along. My model has a "calories burned" display, which always seems suspiciously high. I don't really feel exercise-y after using it, even after a long period (I've gone over a half hour before), but it says I'm burning a lot of calories. I also can't speak to the circulation thing, because I'm walking up and down the stairs to my third floor office a few times every day, and so my circulation is generally good from other stuff. I just like it because I'm a cyclist and the spinning pedals feel good to me psychologically, if nothing else.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:00 AM on April 27, 2021

Best answer: I had the Cubii Jr linked by underclocked above and returned it. I wanted something that synced with my Apple Watch (it did not). I found my bobbing up and down to be quite noticeable on Zoom calls. Watching myself on screen made me feel quite nauseas!

I'm 5'11" and also found it tough to pedal under my desk. I had to scoot my chair back and then because of my desk setup it was hard to to type or take notes. I ordered a wireless keyboard and it didn't help, because I am not able to type on my lap while pedaling.

Also, with the Cubii Jr sitting there, I found it to add to this constant fear and belief that I'm not doing enough. In addition to working through a pandemic and trying my dardest to do all of the things to the best of my ability... I need to pedal on top of that. Every time I didn't pedal I felt guilty and as though I had wasted my money.

I made a promise to myself to get up and go for a walk instead. Your question has been a timely reminder to keep that promise, so thank you! :)
posted by nathaole at 11:38 AM on April 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I bought one. I'm 5'4" and can't put it under my desk. I have it off to the side so I can use it if I am in a meeting or something. My laptop is angled because I have a larger monitor and a keyboard plugged into it so it doesn't look too weird with me turned to the side. I also have to keep adjusting the tension.
posted by Nolechick11 at 6:22 PM on April 29, 2021

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