What We Tried: The DeskCycle
What We Did: Pedaled under our desk!
How'd It Feel:
Sarah's Take: Although I think it's more practical to cycle in shorter bouts throughout the day, I decided I had to try pedaling all day at least once before writing about this. I made it until about 2 p.m. before I needed a serious break -- my legs were exhausted! After a rest, I kept at it until leaving around 6. By that time, the monitor on the DeskCycle said I had burned 1,485 calories and ridden 40.5 miles. Calorie monitors aren't always so accurate to begin with, and the DeskCyle owner's manual says the counts are closest if you're pedaling on the highest resistance, so I did a little fact-checking. MyFitnessPal estimated that could be about right if I really did go at it for about six hours, but DeskCycle's online calculator told another story. There, you can plug in your weight, height, gender, speed and resistance for a more accurate measure of calorie burn, which totaled out to more like 67 calories per 60 minutes rather than 236. Still, there was no denying my legs felt better, or at least, more utilized, than they do when I'm just sitting at my desk all day. It also felt like a bit of a core workout, as I found myself holding my upper body more upright in my chair to reach the pedals.
Kate's Take: Like trying to pat my head and rub my belly at the same time. Maybe I'm not much of a multi-tasker: I struggled with focusing on my work while pedaling at my desk simultaneously. The bike felt clunky and I never fully got into the rhythm of the ride (though, to be fair, I think with a bit more practice and dedication, this is something I'd be able to overcome). My hands felt hot early on and by the end of my trial run (about an hour), I was certainly schvitzing.
Amanda's Take: This thing is more physically taxing than it looks, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm a natural fidgeter already -- I'm that annoying girl who's shaking her foot while sitting down -- so I guess this just gave more "purpose" to my movement. Even though I didn't pedal straight through the whole day -- I did it for half-hour chunks at a time, spread across the workday -- I still felt that nice soreness in my legs by quitting time. However, I wish that I could say that I was able to work without thinking about the pedaling -- I found myself having to adjust my chair and the DeskCycle several times because I kept sliding away from it (oh, roller chairs). Plus, I have long legs and my knees would occasionally knock on the underside of the desk. It also required some focus, which probably made me not as productive as I would've been had I not been bicycling at my desk.
Meredith's Take: To my unending chagrin, I'm not a fitness multitasker. I can't watch TV while running on a treadmill without falling off. I can't even read a magazine on the elliptical without my eyesight going blurry. So the idea that I could pedal away under my desk while typing away atop? Didn't sound very likely. And so in that way, the DeskCycle was a pleasant surprise. I was able to answer emails and move my legs. And beyond slight sea legs when I stood up, there didn't seem to be any downside.
What It Helps With: By causing us to move some of the largest muscles in our bodies while sedentary, the DeskCycle ostensibly negates some of the harmful effects of sitting all day. Just don't expect it to replace your trip to the gym. "I don't think it's going to be a big calorie burner, but it's the idea of the stillness in sitting that's the problem," says exercise physiologist Robert Hopper, Ph.D. A better idea might be taking a morning and afternoon break to walk for 15 minutes, he says, but he says he understands that many workers would rather forgo the break in order to get more done. There's at least a little research to back up the benefits of the DeskCycle, however: A small study found that sedentary workers who used a similar apparatus did seem to counter some of the effects of sitting all day -- and they only cycled for an average of 23 minutes a day.
What Fitness Level Is Required: None, in theory. However, Hopper says he think regular exercisers might be more inclined than couch potatoes to stick with their DeskCycling. "I'm not sure exercise at the worksite is going to be something that people are going to want to do," he says, whereas they might be more receptive to standing desks or sitting on an exercise ball.
Would We Keep At It:
Sarah's Take: I'm hoping that the DeskCycle's permanent home will be under my desk. I don't think I'll go for a six-hour ride ever again, but even bumping my feet against it under my desk is a reminder to pedal for 15 minutes or stand up more often.
Kate's Take: Moving more throughout the workday is a goal of mine, but I don't think DeskCycle is the route I'll be taking to accomplish it. If I planned to ride this contraption on a daily basis, I'd need to keep a neck fan and some sort of misting-device nearby at all times. Not worth the office glares, in my opinion.
Amanda's Take: I would totally use this again, but probably not every day, and not for the entire workday. It's great for getting some exercise in when I know I'm just going to be sitting around anyway, and I'm all about killing two birds with one stone.
Meredith's Take: Sarah can have it! Nice to try, but I think it would end up collecting dust under my desk. I'd rather stand when I need to stretch, to be honest.
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