Ask Me Anything: 11 Answers to Your Questions About Desk Ellipticals

If you’re considering a desk elliptical for your home or office, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular 11 questions:

Question 1: Is this even a workout?

Of course this is exercise. You can categorize any form of light, moderate or intense activity as exercise. Most desk ellipticals will help you burn an average 150 calories per hour (depends on resistance and your RPM). If you’re interested in tracking your workouts, make sure you get a model with a display monitor. Some brands like this one are even bluetooth enabled which connect to an app and sync with your activity trackers. Cubii, a seated compact elliptical, is actually a NEAT™-certified product for active sitting and is proven to increase your energy expenditure by 84.5%. Typically we think of exercise as intense aerobic activity but if you’re moving, you’re exercising.

Question 2: How can this work anything except my ankles?

At first glance, you may think desk ellipticals only work your ankles but this is not the case. These mini ellipticals help you go beyond the calorie count to improve your posture and engage your abs/core muscles, hip flexors, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.

what muscles does a desk elliptical work

Question 3: Could you use this after joint surgeries?

Yes most desk ellipticals are designed to be low impact, some more than others depending on patented technology. Desk ellipticals are ideal for general wellness, pre-habilitation, rehabilitation and post surgery (knee, hip and spine) and their smooth gliding motion improves muscle strength, mobility, stiffness and blood flow. Of course we recommend you consult with your doctor prior to using a desk elliptical as different conditions will react to the equipment.

Question 4: How do I lose weight with this?

We read a ton of product reviews on Amazon and turns out that many users are seeing improvements in weight loss after incorporating a desk elliptical into their daily routine. Here’s the math to prove it- The average customer burns 150 calories per hour and uses it for 2 hours a day:

  • That's 300 Calories / Day
  • That's 1,500 Calories / Week
  • That's 6000 Calories / Month

In 5 months you'll burn more than 42,000 Calories, which is 12 Pounds.*

“Due to lack of motivation to get to a gym despite a need to lose some weight, I picked up a Cubii to use while sitting at my 9-5 desk job. Since it sits under my desk, there's no excuse not to use it other than sheer laziness, so I've been pretty dedicated so far. My goal thus far is to get approximately 20k strides per workday, which equates to about 4 hours usage or so. While it's still early, I've dropped 4.2 pounds in the first 3 weeks (including the week of Thanksgiving!), so I'm getting the results I'd hoped for without massive changes in lifestyle or giving up the food and beverages that I love. Hoping to continue that trend for another 25 points or so!” ~ Randall C. Cubii Amazon Review

cubii app dashboard

Question 5: Why can’t I just go for a walk or just stand?

If sitting is bad for you, then just go for a walk or stand. However depending on where you work and weather, going for a stroll is not always an option. Standing desks are super popular and I bet there are a few in your office right now. But new research shows that prolonged standing is just as bad for you as sitting and can led to a higher risk of enlarged veins and more back pain.

Question 6: I go to the gym once a day. Will this benefit me?

By now you’ve heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” You’d think hitting the gym 4-5 times a week would be enough to counteract the negative health effects of sitting all day but many studies are reporting this is not the case. Instead health professionals recommend adding more NEAT activities to your day.  Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, also known as NEAT® and developed by the Mayo Clinic , “focuses on the daily calories a person burns while doing normal, non-exercise activity.” A few examples are walking to meetings, standing at your desk or pacing while on a call.

Question 7: How do I avoid banging my knees?

Not all desk elliptical models are the same so be sure to check the product specs prior to purchasing to make sure that you have enough clearance under your desk to avoid banging your knees. Most sites we found recommend having 2-3 inches between your knees and desk to ensure no bumped knees.

Cubii under desk elliptical

Question 8: Will everyone around me notice I am exercising?

Most brands are designed to be quiet but always read reviews and check the return/warranty  policy just in case.


Question 9: Can I take a conference call without panting? 

Like any fitness equipment, you can pedal as fast or as slow as you want. If you’re concerned about sweating at work, reduce your pedal speed and resistance level. Also check to make sure the model you purchase is not motorized.


Question 10: Is assembly like IKEA instructions?

Every time you purchase a product, you take a gamble on the assembly. Before purchasing a specific brand, try to find the user manual or assembly guide on the FAQ page of the website. Some models like the Cubii pride themselves on only taking 3-5 mins to assemble (they even provide the screwdriver).

Question 11: Is this only for athletes or already “fit” people?

Absolutely not! Desk ellipticals are meant to be used by anyone, anywhere. The point of using these compact ellipticals is not necessarily to replace a workout or crank up a sweat. Instead it’s meant to keep you moving when you are sitting. Even athletes and intense gym goers sit at a desk.


There is a learning curve with any new category of technology/equipment. Be sure to do your research, reads reviews and give a desk elliptical a try. Though desk ellipticals are small, don’t underestimate their ability to have a positive impact on your health. Tiny but mighty!

*Calories to Pound conversion based on the calculation provided by the Mayo Clinic at