Lora has experience using, maintaining, and repairing an under-desk pedal exerciser.
Working Out on a Pedal Exerciser
A pedal exerciser is also called an under-desk bike. The equipment can be very elaborate with lots of bells and whistles, or it can be a simple tension knob with two pedals attached. I have used the latter now for one month, and it has pros and cons. Am I going to keep using it? Yes, but my experience has taught me some things along the way. I modified it and learned how to use it to get better results.
My under-desk bike needed some assembly, but it was easy. It was just a few nuts and bolts to put it all together. Tighten it well, or it will wobble. I found that after some use the bolts became loose, so now, I give them a quick twist every day to make sure they are locked in and it doesn’t wobble.
I found that once I started pedaling, my mini exercise bike started to move and skid across the floor. It was easy to solve the problem. I just put some gripping fabric, like the kind you use for drawer liners, underneath it. You can find the cloth at most dollar or big-box stores. Other extra items you will need later on are some spray lubricant and rags. I’ll explain why later.
Using a Pedal Exerciser
Start by using it without a desk. Set it on the floor in front of you, sit in a sturdy chair, and begin pedaling. Put the gripper fabric underneath it if it starts to slide away. Begin on the lowest level or tension because you are just getting the feel of it. It is easier than riding a bike because you do not have to keep your balance. This might be a good exercise for elderly people or individuals with balance issues. Once you have the hang of it, move it under your desk.
Warning: Sit away from the desk, so your knees will not hit the top. At first, this position seemed awkward, but with some practice, it became second nature. It helps to move the keyboard to the edge of the desk, and you may have to move things around on your desktop so you can still reach them.
My office chair had wheels, and it just did not work. I kept pushing myself farther away, so I switched to a stationary chair. If you like your chair or cannot switch it out, I imagine you could put some of the gripping fabric under it to stop it from sliding.
It took a while to get used to, but I found if I kept the tension low, I could keep my legs moving and still concentrate on my work. Your upper body does not move at all, so you can type, write, and talk on the phone easily.
I think even the best under-desk bikes need maintenance from time to time. Mine developed a horrible squeak. At first, I tried to ignore it, but it became so bad that I had to stop pedaling. It was an easy fix. I sprayed a little lubricant in the center, and it was quiet, just like when I first bought it.
Another Warning: Be sure to put a rag underneath it after you spray the lubricant because it will continue to drop some for a few days. The black spots in the photo below are remnants of the spray.
The plastic pedals are held on with metal clips or pins, and I had managed to wear out and break one of the clips off. I just put some new wire through the existing hole and tied it down. It works great, and none of the other clips have broken.
Tracking Your Steps
I use a Fitbit Fitness Tracker, and it normally picks up the pedal rotations when bicycling outside. I discovered that if you wear the watch on your wrist while using the mini bike, it will not pick up the movement.
A fitness tracker must sense your body moving forward in order to work. I experimented and found out that if you put your hand on your leg, the watch picks up the action and starts to count your steps, but then you cannot work at your desk. The solution, although not perfect, is to attach your fitness tracker to your shoe. I just loop it through one of the laces. It worked like a charm.
Really Easy to Get Daily Steps In
The tracker picked up pedal after pedal, and if you have daily step goals, it will help. It will help, a lot! The only thing it does not pick up is your pulse rate, so I do not know if the calorie burn is correct at the end of the day, but my weight is moving.
My experience is that it is so much easier to add steps (or pedals) in throughout the day when you can do them during simple tasks. I’ve added thousands, and I’m not exaggerating, literally thousands of steps just by using an under-desk bike. See my Fitbit tracker readings below.
Then read on to find out why step count is important, but not as vital as simple movements throughout the day.
Is Step Count Important? Yes, and No.
Do Mini Exercise Bikes Work?
Yes! Even the inexpensive one, and because of my experience, I am looking into getting a higher-end model. However, I would recommend starting with a basic one until you decide if it works for you.
Do not just take my word for it. Research completed by the University of Massachusetts showed promising results. The report noted that the devices allowed the subjects to perform as little or as much as they wanted, and it was better than a standup desk for people that could not stand for long periods.
Pedal Exerciser Workout
There is another way to use the bike if you cannot get used to the movement while sitting at your desk, and it is fun and easy. Put it in front of your TV or YouTube. There have been busy days in the office where pedaling was not going to happen. In the evening, it is easy to put it in front of your TV, phone, or tablet and pedal away. Because it is so portable, you can transport it back and forth from your office to your home.
I cannot give you a review on how well the device works on your arms because I have never really tried it other than for a minute or two.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.