Getting a workout while working

By Harold Glicken

As I type this on my desktop computer, I’m getting an aerobic workout. My legs have been pumping away for half an hour. Calories are being burned. Instead of the leg cramps I so often get when I spend hours glued to my desk chair, I feel exhilarated. I am working out while I work.


No, I haven’t mounted my heavy desktop and equally heavy monitor on a treadmill or stationary bike. I’m using the FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical, a sort of stationary bike that fits under my desk. Physical tension ebbs as I increase the tension on the elliptical itself, a feat accomplished with a tap of my left foot. How crazy is this?


Well, for one thing, I am banging my knees on the bottom of the desk. No matter. Life is all about tradeoffs. The possibility that I will be a candidate for knee surgery soon is outweighed by the fact that I spent $100 on this device, and I very well plan to use it.


The folks at FitDesk claim that a desk as low as 24 inches will accommodate the elliptical. My desk is 26 inches high, but I’m 6-2, and my legs are long. So  I go bump in the night.

That said, how am I using the device? I lower my chair and bring the elliptical toward me so that my knees don’t bump the desk. I put my dasKeyboard on my lap; the keyboard is tethered with the extra-long USB cable I mocked in an earlier column. For mouse work, I simply lean forward.

It works, but not as intended. I should be able to sit at my desk normally while my legs get a workout; instead I have to use a workaround.

Assembling the elliptical is fairly straightforward. The instructions are clear, and all the nuts and bolts, and even the tools I needed, were present and accounted for. A small fitness meter helps figure out how fast the calories are being burned  and how long I’ve been pumping away. The fact that the meter’s cable is a bit short didn’t much bother me, since I know, by wristwatch, how much time I’ve been pumping away and banging my knees.

So, here’s what I suggest: Don’t buy it unless your desk is at least 30 inches high. If you have long legs, go higher. And don’t try to lift it yourself. The FedEx  guy wasn’t happy about delivering it. If you have any issues with your knees, the elliptical may not be your best choice for exercise equipment.

Still, I’m using it as I write this column. Knee bumps aside, it’s the best way to exercise while using a desktop PC that I’ve found.  If you  have a laptop, there are mini-desks you can mount on a full-size elliptical. But those ellipticals take up a lot of space. This one fits under a desk, which makes it unique. Not entirely practical for me, but not impractical, either. Besides, there’s no way I could repack it and take it to the FedEx store to return to Amazon without injuring my back. Sore knees are bad enough.

A sit-down workout