Today we’re looking at the growing market of under desk peddlers – a unique idea where you can theoretically lose weight in typically sedentary times of your day. Normally lots of sitting down is associated with putting weight on so the idea of of improving your body while seated is an exciting one.
But is it possible?
We’ll look at whether these mini bikes are effective at burning calories and helping shift some weight, including the latest research into how effective they are.
Quick answer: can desk cycle help lose weight?
Yes, a desk cycle can help you get shot of some unwanted pounds but there are a number of things to take into consideration that will affect your results. As with any form of indoor cycling, how often you do it, how long for and the intensity of each workout are key to the success you’ll see. Other factors such as your diet and daily calorie intake also can’t be ignored.
You can’t pedal off a MaccyDs while you’re sitting eating it, unfortunately.
Have there been any studies into losing weight with under desk bikes?
We love evidence; facts and proper studies are the only real way to gauge how effective any form of exercise is. So what’s the score with under desk bikes? Has there been any trials and research into how well help with reducing weight?
Yes, and it’s good news.
In one study, researchers provided office workers with a pedalling device under their desks and tracked the effects it had on their weight and health in general.
Each employee pedalled for an average of 50 minutes a day over a period of 16 weeks. *
The research shown that workers who used the desk bikes regularly were more likely to lose weight. There were some other benefits such as improved concentration and even fewer sick days at work.
* It’s worth noting that this wasn’t in a single block of 50 minutes either. The pedalling was split over around 19 mini sessions per day.
What is a desk cycle and how can it help lose weight?
Desk cycles are a compact type of indoor exercise bike that have a set of pedals, some king of resistance normally and don’t come with a seat. They’re designed to be used with one of your existing chairs, sofas or any other seat you have at home.
They’re a good choice for:
- Seniors looking to keep exercise without standing up.
- People of different disabilities
- Anyone with an office job
So technically, you can lose weight sitting watching TV?
Yes, although mini peddlers aren’t exactly calorie burning monster machines, using them regularly over a long period of time (say a couple of Netflix episodes) will definitely get rid of some of the calories and aid with weight loss.
It might annoy whoever you’re watching TV with but I guess you could take turns or get one each! These bikes can be put on carpet and a sofa offers a nice reclined position that won’t slide back, as office chairs can.
Sneaky spots you can work on fat loss with a desk peddler
- At the office – If you work from home, this is a simple, easy way to reduce your weight without spending any extra time. Research has shown that people like using under desk peddlers as they offer a level of privacy compared to using a full-size exercise bike in a public place.
- On your laptop – If you’re working from home, either at a desk, sofa or the kitchen table, you can get in some extra work on your legs and weight loss with an under desk bike.
- On holiday – One good thing with mini peddlers is that they’re both compact and relatively light weight. While you might get some funny looks putting them in your overhead locker on a plane, chucking one in the car boot for a UK getaway is perfectly feasible.
- While you’re gaming – Once you get into the habit of using a peddler it becomes second nature and you’ll find you can likely use them without thinking about it. Playing video games actually burns off calories itself but you can boost that by using a peddler while you’re playing too.
- Making calls – Peddlers like the DeskCycle 2 are blissfully quiet to use and as such are ideal for anyone who has to deal with a lot of calls each day. As long as your chair isn’t a squeaker, you can improve your circulation and get in shape while you talk.
What’s the best peddler for weight loss?
There are some awesome under desk bikes on the market in 2023, ranging from cheap models under £20 which offer a simple rotating pedals up to more advanced machines where you can set resistance levels, track progress and other things you might expect from an exercise bike.
The Desk Cycle 2 is still the top of the range
We’ve reviewed the DeskCycle 2 and as far as under-desk bikes go, it’s currently at the top of the range from what we’ve seen. It’s stable, easy to use and has a robust feel a lot of other peddlers miss. This machine is a step up in terms of quality and offers a good amount of resistance to give you a challenge.
Find out more about the Desk Cycle 2 at Amazon.
Some tips for losing weight using a desk bike
We’ve come a long way in our understanding of how to lose weight safely and in 2023, an overwhelming amount of research has found that there’s a lot more to it than ‘eat less, exercise more’. So here’s some of the main tips that can help you lose weight using an under-desk peddler.
- Improve weight loss by tracking your progress – Studies like this one have shown that tracking your physical activity can help with weight loss. Desk bikes have simple counters a bit like step counters. But you can just as easily track the time you spend on your mini bike too.
- Build up gradually – If you’re currently unfit, then start off with a shorter workout, on the lowest resistance setting. Aim for a 20 minute light session and then leave it until tomorrow. Although desk bikes look like an easy option, some of them have impressively tough resistance levels.
- Practice and don’t give up – This isn’t a motivational thing; you’ll likely find it feels a bit awkward to get on with your normal work and remember to pedal at the same time. It takes a few sessions before it clicks and you can let your legs do the work while you get on with tasks ‘above’ knee height.
- Replace your chair’s wheels – If you’re looking to lose weight with a peddler increasing the resistance is a must. The problem is you’ll be pushing more and if your chair has wheels, it just won’t work. Thankfully, if your chair doesn’t already have wheel locks, you can swap the wheels for feet, which solves the problem. You can pick them up cheaply on Amazon here.
How many calories can I burn a mini bike?
In the research mentioned above, the test pilots for the under desk bikes managed an average of 50 minutes during their work days and at a leisurely pace that equated to 107 calories per day, or over 500 calories per week.
It’s safe to assume that most healthy people should be able to do around 100 calories per hour. If you could find a way to use your under desk bike twice during the day, week days only, that would equate to a whopping 1000 calories per week.
How long should you pedal for to lose weight?
Aim for an hour a day at least. This is a good amount of time to burn off at least an extra 120 calories or so. But build up to this and experiment with different resistance levels. You can also split your cycling over a period of time and get the same effect.
Pros and cons to losing weight with an under-desk bike
Pro: They’re cheap – Under desk bikes are one of the cheaper forms of gym gear you can get, coming in at around a third of the price of a rowing machine, exercise bike, or pretty much any other substantial machine.
Pro: Anyone can use a desk cycle to get in shape – The under desk kind of bikes are similar to recumbent bikes and as you’re sitting in a chair with a back, you’re able to
Pro: They increase blood flow – If you have a desk job, another good reason to get a desk bike is you will improve blood flow around your body.
Pro: They keep you warm – With fuel prices increasing constantly, especially in 2023 – there’s an unexpected benefit with desk cycles: they increase your body heat! While not the main reason you’ll likely buy one of these bikes, it might save you putting the heating on quite as much,
Con: Thy burn off a lot less calories per hour than other kinds of exercise – A person weighing 155 pounds using a regular exercise bike at home, at 12 to 13 mph will burn around 560 calories per hour. That’s almost five times what you can expect to do on an under desk bike.
That being said, an hour of regular cycling is a lot of hard, sweaty work!
What’s a good alternative to an under desk bike for weight loss?
If your primary aim is losing weight and fitting into some of your older clothes more comfortably, then an under desk bike will help. However, if you’re otherwise healthy and are have a bit of time to devote to exercise, there are far more effective ways to shred some calories.
Regular exercise bikes and spin bikes – Both of these will burn more calories than a desk cycle.
Rowing – Is a simple, smooth exercise that you can do from home or at a commercial gym or studio. It’s fun, effective and suitable for fitness newbs and gym pros alike.
Getting up from your desk and doing some exercise – One healthy habit you can get into for free is to make use of your screen break time and do some push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks and any other kind of aerobic exercise for a few minutes.
Get a step counter – Whether you download a free app, or buy a little step counter on Amazon, these bad boys are great at one thing: getting us walking more. A lot of research has been done into walking in recent years and the benefits of even a 30 minute walk for weight loss are pretty staggering.
Summary: Should you get a desk cycle to lose weight?
Mini peddlers are a proven and effective way to lose weight while we’re sitting down for long periods. Although the amount of calories you can potentially lose is inferior to what you would during the same time on a traditional gym bike, it’s also not fair to compare the two as you’ll be working at much lower, easy going level on your DeskCycle.
If you’ve got a feeling you’re spending a bit too much time seated during the days, then an under desk could be a great way to burn off calories without too much extra effort. It’s a healthy habit that, once mastered, can absolutely help get to your weight goals.
They’re inexpensive, easy to store and suitable for anyone, including seniors.
Related: DeskCycle 2 Review