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Pedal Exercisers

Updated on December 18, 2014

Stay fit at work with a pedal exerciser mini exercise bike.

Whether you work at home or in an office, there are going to be some days when you just can't make it to the gym, even if you have the willpower and energy.

Perhaps your workload has become heavier than normal, or sometimes, the weather may be so bad you can't get out of the house. If you are a work-at-home mom, you might also be saddled with the additional responsibility of having to care for young children who must be under your constant surveillance. Of course, all these problems are further compounded when you are feeling overwhelmed and the thought of dragging yourself to the gym yet again leaves you feeling, well ... less than enthusiastic.

Now, here's something I discovered recently when trying to come up with a low-cost solution to the problem of getting enough aerobic exercise during those times when you feel chained to your desk. For less than one month's dues at a typical gym or health club, you can buy yourself a simple pedal exerciser that fits right under your desk. Also known as "under desk bikes" or "mini exerciser bikes," pedal exercisers enable you to work while pedaling at your desk in the comfort of your home or office. They are among the best selling exercise bikes on amazon.com and for good reason.

Image credit: amazon.com

Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL
Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL

Stay fit at work with a pedal exerciser mini exercise bike.

Are you often stuck at your desk and have no time to exercise? Are you also stuck for cash when it comes to setting up your own home or office gym?

When it comes to cheap exercise equipment that you can incorporate into your daily work routine, pedal exercisers such as the Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL shown here are hard to beat. Regular stationary bikes are fine if you work at home, but they can be fairly expensive. Plus, their flimsy magazine racks make it practically impossible to have within easy reach all the materials you need to do your job, whether they are books, a computer, or a lamp. With most stationary bikes, you are pretty much limited to listening to music, reading magazines, and watching TV.

Since a pedal exerciser is small enough to fit under your desk, it solves all these problems, and at a price that is quite affordable. All you need are a comfortable chair, a table or desk for your work, and a little discipline - and your handy pedal exerciser does the rest. Or, you can sit on a couch or in your favorite chair with your pedal exerciser in front of you and put a small worktable on your lap. Whatever feels right.

Image credit: amazon.com

Do you have enough time to get all the exercise you want and need?

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Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle-XL
Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle-XL

A pedal exerciser can help you meet your minimum daily exercise requirements.

No matter how busy you are, with a pedal exerciser, you can always make time for some light exercise throughout the day. Once you develop a daily rhythm, it can provide you with a fairly substantial amount of low-impact aerobic exercise for those times when you are strapped to your desk. Working out while you're at work may take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. If you don't want to dedicate one large block of time to your under-the-desk workout, taking 15 minutes here and there throughout the day can really add up to a lot. While pedal exercisers are not a perfect substitute for your higher-intensity workouts and you probably won't break a sweat, several short sessions per day on one of these machines is far better than doing nothing and can help you maintain your level of fitness for when you cannot carry out your normal workout routine due to either a lack of time, bad weather, or an injury.

If you are normally sedentary, then a pedal exerciser can also provide a great way to ease into a regular workout routine. (Of course, if it has been awhile since you last exercised, you should always check with your doctor first!) Put it on a table and you can also exercise your arms, a viable alternative if you are recovering from a knee injury or are looking for some variety in your daily exercise routine.

Image credit: amazon.com

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So, which pedal exerciser should you buy?

Pedal exercisers range in price from around $25 to over $100. There are many different models, and if you are just trying one out for the first time and want to stick to the under-$50 price range, the two band names that caught my eye were Stamina and Direct Medical. Pedal exercisers by these two manufacturers consistently rank high as Best Sellers on amazon.com both within the Pedal Exercisers and Exercise Bikes categories, and they generally get the best reviews.

My top picks for low-cost pedal exercisers are as follows:

  • Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL
  • Stamina 15-0125 InStride Folding Cycle
  • Drive Medical Pedal Exerciser with Attractive Silver Vein Finish
  • Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Exercise Peddler with Electronic Display

Here is a demo of the Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL in action.

Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL

Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL
Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL

The Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL, which is the model demonstrated in the video above, is very compact, measuring only 19 x 15.25 x 12.25 inches (L x W x H). This item weighs 9 pounds and is made from durable one-inch tubular steel. It comes with non-slip rubber feet, sturdy rubber pedal straps, and an electronic monitor so that you can time your workouts. You can pedal in either forward or reverse motion using your arms or legs, and the intensity can be varied with an adjustable tension knob. Some assembly is required.

 

Stamina 15-0125 InStride Folding Cycle

Stamina 15-0125 InStride Folding Cycle
Stamina 15-0125 InStride Folding Cycle

This item is very similar to the Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL described above except that it is foldable. You may prefer this model if you have to cart your pedal exerciser back and forth from the office daily.

 

Pros And Cons

When it comes to pedal exercisers, reviews are generally positive but somewhat mixed, even for the most expensive models. While these machines are not perfect, they do offer good value for the money. If you can accept (or work around) their limitations, they can solve your problem of being able to get some aerobic exercise while you work at your desk.

Pros:

  • Pedal exercisers are low-cost, compact, and light weight.
  • They are generally easy on the knees (since you're not using them in a standing position).
  • They enable you to get a light aerobic workout while you work at your desk.
  • They are great if you have a bony butt and hate those little rock-hard bicycle seats on most non-recumbent stationary bikes.
  • They can also be used as arm exercisers.

Cons:

  • Pedal exercisers are generally not as rugged or stable as most stationary bikes.
  • They do not have as many bells and whistles as stationary bikes and other fancier gym equipment.
  • You may not be able to peddle as fast as you'd like.
  • Despite non-skid rubber feet, some users complain that they slip around on the floor while in use.
  • Some users complain of overheating and squeeking noises if used for too long. (However, one amazon.com customer claims these problems can be solved easily by applying liquid graphite, which can be purchased from a hobby store.)

Drive Medical Pedal Exerciser with Attractive Silver Vein Finish

Drive Medical Exercise Peddler with Attractive Silver Vein Finish (Requires Simple Assembly)
Drive Medical Exercise Peddler with Attractive Silver Vein Finish (Requires Simple Assembly)

This item weighs in at only 6.3 pounds and is a compact 16 x 10 x 6.5 inches. It is chrome-plated and comes with four anti-slip rubber pads to prevent slippage. The tension can be adjusted so that you can vary the intensity of your workout.

 

Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Exercise Peddler with Electronic Display, Black

Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Exercise Peddler with Electronic Display , Black Model # RTL10273
Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Exercise Peddler with Electronic Display , Black Model # RTL10273

This item is similar to the Drive Medical Pedal Exerciser with Attractive Silver Vein Finish described about except that it is foldable. It comes with displays for exercise time, revolution count, revolutions per minute and calories burned, plus four anti-slip rubber pads prevent sliding. The resistance is easily adjusted with a tension screw.

 

Some Tips

A pedal exerciser won't turn you into an Arnold Schwarzenegger, but regular use may increase your level of fitness (especially if you are normally sedentary), or help you maintain your current level.

  • Start with one 15 minute session per day and work up gradually. Once you get used to peddling without having it disrupt your work, increase your total time by adding more 15 minute sessions throughout the day.
  • Increase the resistance gradually.
  • Make sure your desk or work table has plenty of room underneath to move your legs, especially if you are tall or long-legged.
  • If you find that your pedal exerciser slips when peddling vigorously, place a rubber pad underneath.
  • Last and not least: the moment you feel any pain anywhere, STOP. If in doubt, ask your trainer or doctor.

Why I Like Pedal Exercisers

  • They provide good value for the money and cost far less than most gym equipment.
  • More than just a poor man's stationary bike, they enable you to get a light aerobic workout without your having to leave your desk.
  • They are compact and portable.
  • They are ideal for those who cannot set aside contiguous 1-2 hour blocks each day for a full workout but can spare several 15 minute chunks here and there.
  • They provide a good pick-me-up whenever you need a short break.

Do you have any thoughts regarding pedal exercisers or other at-home exercise equipment?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: they are very easy to use with your arms. Not awkward at all but you may want to put something to keep it from shifting around on the table when using it

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Can anyone tell me if this works well for upper body? I need one for my arms, not feet but I can't find any pictures or reviews that show this. Most of them look too awkward to be able to use with your arms. Thanks :)

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 

      6 years ago

      If I can figure out how to mount one on my recliner, I will be good to go.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      These look really fun! =D

    • Celticep profile image

      Celticep 

      6 years ago from North Wales, UK

      Hi Mary, I've just bought one of these exercisers to help with my knee rehab, to improve the range of motion (bend) after my recent patella fracture. Recommended by my physio therapist.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Hi Mary it was a really great review, and what is even better you can do it in front of the TV then it never feels like your exercising, the best way to work out

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 

      6 years ago from Maryland

      I like that I could watch TV, read or work on my laptop while doing this. Right now, I go to Zumba classes and use the treadmill and elliptical at the gym, but this would be a nice piece of equipment to keep at home for those days when I just need a little extra! :) Nice review!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Interesting it reminds me that I need to exercise more

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 

      6 years ago

      I can see why you love your pedal exerciser. Nicely presented.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      6 years ago

      I'd never heard of these! They might also work well for people who are not physically able to run or to use a regular exercise bike. Thanks!

    • DIY Mary profile imageAUTHOR

      DIY Mary 

      6 years ago

      @Coreena Jolene: Yes, absolutely! With a little practice, you will soon get used to doing both things at the same time and get into a rhythm.

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 

      6 years ago

      Can I Squidoo and pedal at the same time? This looks like it could change the couch potato image. Pedal and watch tv!

    • Einar A profile image

      Einar A 

      6 years ago

      Interesting product that could make a huge difference for someone who must sit at a desk all day.

    • Blkeeslar profile image

      Billie Keeslar 

      6 years ago from Mississippi

      I just finished riding my lifecycle. My husband has wanted one of these pedal exercisers for a long time. After reading your review I think I found his birthday present

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      I wish that I knew about these when I was sitting at a desk nine hours a day! Great concept! :>)

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