The INSIDER Summary:
• DeskCycle lets you pedal underneath your desk while working.
• Teachers are using them in schools to keep kids from fidgeting.
• We tried one out and found out that it’s perfect for extra chilly offices.
Sitting might be the new smoking, but standing desks — a popular alternative for many office workers — are just plain annoying. At least, that’s what many of my standing-desk coworkers have told me after long days on their feet.
Surely there has to be some kind of happy medium — a method of staying active at work without sacrificing comfort. Right?
A few weeks ago we heard about a middle school teacher who installed bike pedals underneath her students’ desks. The simple addition transformed her students: They were more calm and concentrated in class and performed better in their classwork.
Could under-the-desk cycling be the simple, comfortable, healthy solution we’ve been searching for? We wanted to find out for ourselves.
I ordered the same product the teacher used — the $160 DeskCycle — and gave it a spin. The company claims that, by using their product, you’ll expend double the energy that you would if you were just sitting still. (Standing desks boost your energy expenditure only 30%, they assert.)
After some light assembly, I placed it under my desk, strapped in my feet, and started pedalling away. It really was as quiet as the website claims.
You can adjust the tension on the pedals to increase the difficulty. I found it tough to type normally when the tension level was higher than 4. The upper levels were legitimately hard.
And a simple display tells you how fast you’re pedalling, how far you’ve pedaled, and how many calories you’ve burned.
So: Did DeskCycle live up to its claims? Here’s my verdict after a full workweek of dutiful pedalling.
The con: I had to sit in a very weird position.
I had to adjust my chair to its lowest position and lean back so that my knees wouldn’t crash into the underside of my desk. This made it difficult to reach my keyboard and see small text on my screen (but it’s not DeskCycle’s fault that I’m hopelessly myopic).
Plus, in order to prevent my chair from rolling all over the place while I pedaled, I had to hook one of its wheels behind the DeskCycle’s frame, like so:
And when it came time to really concentrate on something, I had to give up the pedalling completely. DeskCycle worked well for passive tasks, like reading emails or browsing websites. But I could never seem to concentrate fully while my legs were in motion. It had to be one thing or the other.
The pro: I found a way to channel my fidgety energy.
When I’m sitting in my office chair, I’m never just sitting: I’m tapping my toes, wheeling a few inches back and forth, twisting side to side, constantly adjusting my position.
DeskCycle was useful outlet for this stream of excess energy. And bike pedalling — unlike fidgeting — can actually build muscle on my legs.
But the biggest perk had nothing to do with muscle building or calorie burning.
By the end of the week, I hadn’t made any noteworthy fitness gains. But I did get something even better: DeskCycle kept me warm in a frigid office.
It’s known fact that most office environments are mercilessly air conditioned — and women are disproportionately affected by the low temps. On particularly chilled days at work, I have to take breaks from typing because my hands get numb from cold.
But using the DeskCycle changed that. A few minutes of pedalling on difficulty level 3 or 4 and I warmed up enough to work coat-free while my coworkers hunkered down under scarves and blankets.
So if you want to get a DeskCycle to lose weight or burn calories, you might be disappointed: I only burned 473 calories over the course of the workweek. Granted, those are 473 calories I wouldn’t have otherwise burned, but I averaged less than 100 calories per day. That’s about the same as running for five to seven minutes.
Personally, the purported fitness benefits were nothing compared to the ability to get warm on demand.
Want to try it out for yourself? Order a DeskCylcle online right here.
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