15 Proven Reasons Under Desk Bikes Are Effective


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There are lots of options these days to add a bit of movement into a sedentary office-based routine. And one of the most common of these is under desk cycles.

But are they effective?

There has been research done into the effectiveness of under-desk cycles, and the results have found that they are able to help with weight loss, improve daily energy output, lower resting heart rate, and a lower percentage of body fat.

There’s quite an impressive list of positive impacts that these simple machines can have.

In this post, I’ll look at 15 proven ways in which under-desk cycles are effective.

under desk cycles are effective

1. Double Your Energy Output From Sitting Down

As you’ve probably heard, the human body wasn’t really designed to sit down all day long. It causes a few issues, including musculature problems, back issues, and the list goes on.

Lots of workers these days are trying out standing desks. And the news is that simply standing up all day requires 30% more energy output.

However, that pales in comparison to the desk cycle.

If you use it over an average time period throughout the day (roughly about 50 minutes on and off), then your energy output for the day will double. That’s a whole 100% increase. (pretty impressive!)

2. Channel Fidgety Energy

In my past life, I used to be a teacher. I actually worked as one for the best part of a decade, and then I worked training other teachers to be teachers after that.

One of the eye-opening things you see when you’re a teacher (and there are many), is the number of fidgety kids there are. There are so many that need to continually move…continually hold objects…continually fidget.

It is a huge proportion, and this definitely transitions into adult life as well.

To an extent, all humans are a bit fidgety. We need to move to think. We need to engage physically with the world around us.

If this sounds like you, then a desk cycle is a godsend. They channel all that nervous, pent-up, fidgety energy, and help you ‘do your thing’ more naturally.

3. Lose A Pound Every 7 Weeks (And Not Even Realize It)

I came across a fantastic study in researching this article. It was created by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. (Source) In it, a selection of office workers were given under desk cycles for 16 weeks.

Quite a few of the stats in this post, come from that study, but here’s a good one to start with:

On average, those in the study lost one pound every 7 weeks. That’s would be about half a stone over a year.

Not a massive loss! But certainly significant, because it was only by doing a bit of under-desk cycling.

4. Cycle 18.6 Times A Day

This is a bit of a random one, but the study measured the frequency and duration of all the cyclists, and how they interacted with the desk cycle.

And one thing they found was the people in the study would cycle on average 18.6 times a day! So it was very much an on-off kind of thing.

Workers would cycle an average of 4 minutes, 24 seconds per session. Short bursts seemed to be the way to go. It could be that workers found the cycling worked well in mini-breaks throughout the day. Or possibly when they were performing lower-level tasks.

5. Get Paid To Exercise For 50.2 Minutes A Day

The average time that workers pedaled the under-desk cycle was 50.2 minutes per day.

It’s the multitasking that I like about this. You can exercise while also doing tasks that force you to be sedentary.

Also, I just think it’s cool that you can be paid for exercising for almost an hour a day. That’s the future right there.

6. Keeping Warm

Imagine the scene – you’re typing away day by day in your freezing office that the Scrooge McDuck boss refuses to heat all winter.

Sure, you can wear Long-Johns (these still exist, right?) But is there a better way?

Get moving on that freakin desk cycle! There’s no better way to get that blood circulating, and the body temperature rising.

7. Burn 500 Calories An Hour

Here’s a proven fact from a study by the University of Iowa. (Source) If you’re into shedding excess beef, then this will be right up your alley.

The study found that the participants using desk cycles all burned around 500 calories per hour.

This equated to about 13.5 miles of cycling. So, if you do an hour a day, that adds up, as all you math boffins I’m sure know, to 2500 calories a week. This is a lot! Literally a day’s calorie intake for males, and more than that for females.

To put it in context, here are some other average calorie counts for an hour of other popular exercises:

ExerciseNumber Of Calories Burned Per Hour (At Moderate Intensity)
Rowing machine580
Circuit training650
Stair machine740
Ski machine580
Aerobics570
Running 740
Racquetball820
Swimming810
Squash980

Of course most of these can’t be done at a desk.

If you’re looking for office-specific tasks to try, then this short video has a few nifty ideas:

8. Change Tension Levels

One of the beauties of the under-desk cycles is that you can change the tension level to suit you. There is a nifty dial on the side of the cycle.

As a heads-up, the dial goes from 1 to 8. Anything above 5 is pretty challenging – think going up an incline kind of thing.

But anything between 1-3 is very doable and is ideal for sitting and focusing on other office tasks at the same time.

9. Improve Resting Heart Rate

One of the key findings from the study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine was that those that used a desk cycle lowered the speed of their resting heart rate. Is this a good thing?

Of course!

A lower heart rate almost always demonstrates excellent cardiac health, and that your heart is functioning well. (Source)

A normal heart rate is anywhere between 60 to 100 beats per minute. But highly trained athletes will often have heart rates in the 40 to 60 beat range, and Miguel Indurain, multiple Tour de France winner and all-time general cycling legend, was recorded as having a heartbeat of 28 beats per minute.

10. Go Faster To Lose Weight

This is probably not rocket science! But one study found that there was a proven link between how fast the participants pedaled on the desk cycle and their weight loss over the period. They were particularly measuring the decrease in their waist circumference.

So, if you’re looking to really shed the pounds in the office, then ramp up the intensity of your cycling!

11. Worried You’ll Get Funny Looks – Not With This Silent Wonder Machine

One of the concerns I’ve heard from people is how they will really stick out at work with one of these machines. Won’t the chair go rolling all around the room? Or will they be really loud?

Well, in terms of volume – definitely not. These machines are pretty much silent. There would be no annoying background noise for the person in the next cubicle.

But what about chairs rolling around the room? I’ve heard about this one. The chair I have is on legs without wheels, so this wasn’t really a problem. I suppose if you had one with wheels, this might be an issue.

One possible solution – get a chair without wheels? Maybe even have two chairs – a wheeled one for lots of daily sitting, and the non-wheeled one for a bit of under-desk cycling.

Other than this, there aren’t really many ways I can see this being too obtrusive. Maybe you’d look a bit silly gyrating up and down slightly during a Zoom call (unless you told them what you were doing?)!.

12. Improve Concentration

The physical and the mental are strongly linked, as we pretty much all know I think.

And the study by the American Journal for Preventative Medicine found that there was measurable evidence that under-desk cycles improved concentration in those using them.

Of course, improved concentration leads to all sorts of benefits including:

  • An increase in productivity
  • A higher quality output
  • More inspiration and vision
  • A greater sense of purpose and self-esteem
  • Enter a ‘flow’ state

13. Fewer Days Off Sick

The study also found conclusive evidence that those that regularly used under-desk-cycles took fewer days off sick.

This is very much a double-edged sword! There are those of you who probably dream of sick days as a kind of holy grail that you look forward to – a little oasis in a desert of grim working days.

But, on the other hand, who wants to be sick!?

Fewer days off sick is good for the following reasons:

  • It boosts the economy
  • It helps businesses of all sizes thrive
  • It looks good on your CV
  • It can sometimes avoid resentment among fellow workers

14.Body Fat Percentage

As I’ve already talked about calorie loss, it’s probably no surprise that under desk cycles also contribute to lowering your body fat percentage as well.

The actual average body fat percentage for males and females in the United States is actually above the recommended Government levels. Currently the male average body fat percentage is 28, and for women it is 41. The US Government recommends a bfp of between 18 and 24 for men, and 20 to 32 for women.(Source)

The summary – it’s time to get those body fat percentages down, people! Get on your under desk bike.

Beating the ‘couch potato’ syndrome is one of the main benefits highlighted by using an under-desk cycle in this video by Dr Jo:

15. Endorphin High!

Even though I’ve saved it to last, this is actually my favorite feature of a desk cycle.

It makes you feel good. It just releases endorphins in a steady flow during the times you use it.

I find endorphins really fascinating because they are released during times of pain and stress, but they are there to make us feel good. Huh!?

What exactly are they? Well, endorphins are hormones that are released by the body at times of stress or pain. Weirdly, they’re also released during times of pleasure, such as eating or a massage. Endorphins are the body’s pleasure stimulator and provide you with a feeling of positive wellbeing. (Source)

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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