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NBC News Shopping readers have shown a keen interest in at-home workouts —from spinning on indoor exercise bikes and sweating it out on treadmills to experimenting with TRX suspension exercises and swinging kettlebells. If you’re feeling the pressure to spend more time at home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 or simply weary of impending winter weather, you may be looking to modify your outdoor workouts for the indoors (again). One easy-to-store alternative that costs significantly less than its full-sized cousin is an under-desk elliptical.
As its name suggests, an under-desk elliptical fits neatly under your desk (or dining room table). While seated, you can pedal away to burn calories. Given its smaller size, an under-desk elliptical doesn’t come with the front arm-grips to help tone your upper body, but it also doesn’t come with the added price of larger ellipticals, which can easily cost upwards of $1,000 for mid-range models. Top-of-the-line under-desk ellipticals typically cost no more than $350, such as the Cubii Pro, and you can find plenty of options between $100 and $130 across a plethora of reader-favorite retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s. You can also purchase under-desk ellipticals at Dick’s Sporting Goods and QVC.
When shopping for an under-desk elliptical, readers should consider three things, said Anthony Crouchelli, a master and founding trainer at GRIT Bxng in New York: size, space and sound. If you’re using an under-desk elliptical while working from home or at the office, be mindful of the noise it could cause and distract coworkers (or your loved ones). And don’t forget to measure your under-desk space before purchasing your machine, so you can make sure it fits and that you’re able to tuck it away when not in use. To make the most of your new under-desk elliptical, Crouchelli advised dedicating at least 15 to 20 minutes of working out on the device daily. “Adding intervals and resistance to your workouts are only going to increase their cardiovascular health,” he noted.
Can you lose weight with an under-desk elliptical? “Absolutely,” Crouchelli said. “These devices at the top tiers come with a plethora of options regarding resistance, inclines and more to maximize these under-desk workouts,” he said. “The reality is that these are great for low impact workouts, which still have a huge factor in your health.” Crouchelli added that you won’t burn as many calories in the same timeframe as you would on a traditional elliptical machine. However, under-desk ellipticals are “great” for those who may need to regulate blood sugar levels or tone their legs and are “excellent” for joint circulation and joint mobility. If you’re interested in shopping for an under-desk elliptical as a holiday gift or as a treat to yourself, consider these five highly-rated models we rounded up that cost under $250.
If your workout motivation stems from seeing your stats, consider adding the top-rated Cubii JR1 elliptical to your cart — 4.7-star average rating from more than 5,500 reviews on Amazon. The ergonomic under-desk elliptical has a built-in LCD display, which shows your calories burned, distance traveled, rotations per minute and other metrics. There are eight resistance levels to help you vary your workouts, plus two colorways to choose between: Aqua and Purple. Do you miss participating in live workout classes? Grab your smartphone, iPad, or laptop and follow along with a Cubii trainer, who will guide you through various at-home workouts on Facebook Live. Cubii says a 60-minute under-desk elliptical workout equates to 150 calories burned. If you prefer an elliptical that is Bluetooth-enabled, opt for the Cubii Pro instead.
DeskCycle created a highly-rated under-desk elliptical that boasts a 4.6-star average rating from more than 300 Amazon reviews. It features a magnetic resistance flywheel for a quiet workout and eight intensity levels, ranging from level one and two, which are for warmups or cool downs, to levels seven and eight for toning. The elliptical can also fit under desks as low as 24-inches, according to the brand. DeskCycle's under-desk elliptical tracks up to 10,000 minutes of activity and displays your metrics on the LCD screen.
Sunny Health & Fitness is a popular exercise equipment brand among Shopping readers, and its low-profile under-desk elliptical is a convenient addition to your work from home routine. Beyond the eight resistance levels, LCD screen and quiet belt-drive, it has a low profile for easy storage while in use or otherwise. It arrives assembled and is also easy to move around.
Gift the gamer in your life a low-impact yet effective workout machine this holiday season. Unlike other models on this list, Stamina Inmotion’s option can be used either sitting or standing, which can burn more calories. Like the Sunny Health & Fitness model, you can also pedal forward and backward, which can help target different muscles. Choose from three colors — Green, Orange and Silver — and monitor your strides per minute, exercise time and calories burned on the LCD screen at the end of your workout.
You can pedal away while streaming your favorite movie, waiting for your Door Dash delivery to arrive or during a conference call without worrying about extra noise disturbance from your elliptical. It comes with a remote to switch up various settings like resistance and speed levels. The under-desk elliptical also comes with textured pedals to prevent slipping and an optional cord, so you’re not limited to where you’d like to workout.
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