If you work in an office and have a desk, then you know the feeling of being stuck at your desk for hours on end. It’s not good for your physical or mental health to be sitting all day long. In fact, even if you exercise for an hour every day, but then spend 6 hours or more sitting, you are still at a heightened risk of diabetes and heart disease. One way to combat this is by using a desk bike, also known as a mini exercise bike. Desk bikes allow you to pedal while still working, which are designed to help keep your muscles and joints from tightening up and encourage blood flow. But how well do desk bikes work? Let’s take a look.
1. Desk Bikes Can Help You Stay Active While at Work
Tens of thousands of people die from the effects of a sedentary lifestyle every year. Some health experts have gone as far as to classify sitting as a “probable human carcinogen” and all experts agree that we need to move around more during our work day.
That can be difficult to do.
If you are anything like me, you’ll often find yourself engrossed in writing a report or blog post and completely lose track of time.
Sure, you intended to take a break to walk around the room or squeeze out a few squats and lunges, but you forgot and you’ve now been sitting for the best part of 2 hours!
Perhaps you even bought a fitness watch to remind you to move every 15 minutes, but the repeated distraction from work and the disapproving glances from your boss mean that you’ve learnt to ignore the prompt.
Desk bikes offer a convenient, discrete and effective alternative to these methods.
2. Desk Bikes Are a Great Way to Get Your Blood Flowing
The problem with being sedentary is that it can impact upon the proper functioning of our blood vessels and arteries. Essentially, good blood flow promotes healthy blood vessels and arteries, but sitting for just 30 minutes is sufficient to stall blood flow which results in the pooling of the blood.
Do this day-in-day-out and your endolethial health is going to suffer. And that’s not good.
The endothelium is the thin, fragile tissue which forms a single layer of cells lining the blood vessels and heart.
You absolutely want to be looking after your endothelial and sitting all day is doing the exact opposite.
A desk bike is a great tool to keep your legs moving and encouraging healthy blood flow.
3. Desk Bikes Are Scientifically Proven to be Effective
There is a 2014 paper which looked at the efficacy of a cycling workstation to increase energy expenditure while performing a typing task.
It compared 10 minutes of sitting while typing, to 10 minutes pedaling while typing.
The study found that the amount of energy consumed was around 2.5 times more in those who were pedaling over those just sitting.
You can tell your boss that the study also found no detriment in terms of typing time or typing errors in the pedaling group!
However, for balance, this 2019 study “…found no clear benefit of under-desk cycling compared to just-sitting for […] cognitive function measures.”
Still, there’s no reason why you should be prevented from using a desk bike if you are keen to try one out.
4. Desk Bikes Can Help You Lose Weight
To lose weight you need to be running a caloric or calorific deficit. This means you need to burn more calories every day than you consume.
Most people who are looking to lose weight tend to focus on the consumption side of the equation. They probably equate burning calories to arduous workouts in the gym.
In doing so, they miss the potential weight-loss benefits to be found by simply increasing activity levels; be it by walking, gardening, cleaning or similar mundane activities.
The great thing about desk bikes, is that they can also help to increase the number of calories you burn, without breaking a sweat.
Admittedly, this is only going to be a modest increase as these machines are clearly not designed to offer high intensity workouts. However, used regularly they will add a significant number of calories to your daily expenditure and in turn, this stacks the weight-loss equation in your favour.
5. Desk Bikes Shouldn’t Be Considered A Replacement For Other Cardio Exercise
I hope you haven’t read the last section and formed the opinion that a desk bike will provide all your cardio-exercise needs.
Sadly this isn’t the case. However, they can be thought of as a powerful tool to combat the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods.
They are the perfect machine for in the office because they don’t require you to leave your workstation and they don’t disrupt your workflow.
However, while I would encourage anybody to incorporate desk cycling into their work-life I’d want them to consider this just one minor part of their fitness regime.
An early morning walk or run and an evening weights / resistance session would be the perfect structure for optimal health.
If you prefer working out indoors and in the comfort of your own home then you may want to read our guide to recumbent exercise bikes which offer a low-resistance, comfortable way in which to workout.
Find a Desk Bike That is Right For You.
Read our in-depth review of the most popular desk bike, the DeskCycle 2, and find out why we recommend it, despite it’s comparatively high cost.
It’s no wonder that some health experts are saying that sitting is the new smoking. Being too sedentary has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Only you who can make the decision to start moving more and I hope that after reading this article you’ll consider buying a desk bike.
If you are, you need to make sure that you check that you desk is high enough to accommodate your knees at the highest point of pedaling.
In the meantime, please get in touch by leaving a comment if you use a desk bike or are thinking of buying one.