Pain Free Working

A Complete Guide to Desk Bikes

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Thinking of adding a little light exercise into your otherwise sedentary work life? A desk bike might be just want you need to combat the destructive effects of a traditional workstation, but before you commit to any one particular product, you need all the details in order to make the right decision for your needs.

What is a Desk Bike?

There are several types of bikes that can be used with a desk:

  • An under-desk bike is an independent pedaler that slides under workstations and other work surfaces. It’s also referred to as an exercise pedal, pedal exerciser, or mini exercise bike.
  • A bike and chair combination is an exercise pedaler with a seat attached. Due the height, it’s best paired with a standing table or a desk riser.
  • A desk bike an exercise pedaler with a chair and tabletop that may be detachable. It’s basically a stationary bike with a work surface instead of handles and a screen. It’s also referred to as a cycling desk.

Each type has its own pros and cons, but we will specifically be looking at the benefits and additional information on desk bikes.

What are the Benefits of a Desk Bike?

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Compared to other ergonomic furniture and devices, a desk bike focuses heavily on physical activity. Here are the specific advantages of cycling while working:

It improves overall physical health

The problem with desk jobs is the inactivity and idle time, which results in an endless number of health problems. Cycling corrects a lot of those, as the constant movement promotes blood flow, preventing fluid retention, etc. And obviously, you’re burning twice as much calories than you would at a traditional seated workstation, which means decreasing body fat. Thus, even if you can’t make it to the gym before, during or after work, at least you’re burning calories throughout your shift.

Just like with regular exercise, a desk bike improves heart health, flexibility and reduce diabetic pain.

For those with joint problems or pain, desk bikes are low impact, making them accessible for people even with chronic pain.

It improves cognitive abilities

Exercise gives you more energy, which means you have better concentration and more motivation for tasks throughout the day, fighting the all too familiar afternoon crash. With more energy, temperament also improves, alone with other cognitive abilities like decision making, problem solving and creativity. All in all, cognitive function increases for high productivity levels.

It improves mental health

Studies show that desk bike users are less likely to experience symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. This goes to show that desk bikes are not solely about the physical health benefits.

How to Use a Desk Bike

Adjust the height of the table

Get on the desk bike and do a test cycle, then adjust the height of the table so your knees don’t hit the surface. Between 4 to 6 inches or 10.16 to 15.24 centimeters should be ample space. If you’re using a laptop, make sure the table height allows you to type with your arms in an “L” shape.

Start off at the lowest tension level

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or not, biking while working is a whole other ball game. Unlike with a stationary or traditional bike, you aren’t supposed pedal as hard as you would during a workout (unless you’re squeezing in an exercise break during your shift). Instead, you want to set it at a level you are comfortable pedaling on for an extended period of time. Over time, you can increase the difficulty level.

Pedal when performing easy tasks

Cycling while typing or writing isn’t impossible, but it isn’t easy either. While it would be ideal that you would be pedaling the entire time you’re sitting at your desk, some biking serves as a distraction for certain activities. If not a distraction, at least a hindrance in productivity. In order to balance work and exercise, cycle during mindless tasks, such as data entry. You may also cycle during conference calls, reading emails, and even when you’re having lunch at your desk. Remember, you don’t want to actually break a sweat while working since it will split your concentration between mental and physical tasks.

Pedal harder during breaks or when you have nothing to do

When you have a few minutes to spare, increase the tension or pedal harder on your exercise bike. This is a much healthier alternative than a smoke or snack break. And if your day is full of critical thinking tasks, you can always save the pedaling for your breaks.

What to Look for in a Desk Bike

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There are many things to consider when it comes to choosing a desk bike. To find out whether a particular ergonomic device is suitable for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you like to cycle? Will you actually use the pedals even if you’re not an experienced cyclist?
  • Do you have the budget for a desk bike? Would you rather buy something more affordable, such as a mini exercise bike?
  • Do you have a desk riser or standing desk? Would it be easier for you to purchase the bike and chair combination?
  • Do you have the space for a new workstation? Will you need to rearrange your workspace or get rid of some furniture to accommodate a new desk bike?
  • Do you have any existing leg injuries that may impact the way you use a desk bike? Does the desk bike accommodate users with injuries or anyone with impaired motor functions?
  • Do the seat and table adjust to your body dimensions?
  • How noisy is the desk bike? Will the humming be distracting, if there is any?
  • How good are you at multi-tasking? Will the desk bike be a distraction when you’re doing tasks that require higher level thinking?
  • Do you work on a laptop or a desktop computer? If you have a desktop, would it make more sense to invest in a standing desk and bike-and-chair combo, or an under-desk bike to use alone with your existing workstation?