Last Wednesday was National Fitness Day in the UK.
Keeping fit’s a doddle if you work from home, isn’t it? You start the day with yoga. Go swimming at lunchtime. On sunny days you put down your pen (or keyboard) and head to the hills for a long walk – because you’re your own boss and you can do what you want.
It’s not always easy to find time to exercise when you’ve got a business to run.
You might rather keep working on something you’re really enjoying. There’s only you to get the work done, so sometimes you need to keep going to meet all your deadlines. And there isn’t always enough time to go to the gym and be there to sort out [insert home repair job of your choice]. Today, for example, the plumber’s here in the morning and the electrician’s coming in the afternoon. (Stop it, romance editors, I know what you’re thinking!)
Sometimes it gets to Friday and you realise you haven’t been further than the bin since Tuesday. And then you’re working the weekend too!
Added to that, the nature of editing and proofreading is that you’re sitting down for the rest of the time, and if you believe what you read that’s slowly killing you.
And some of us just aren’t that keen on exercise – we’d rather curl up by the fire and read a book, preferably with a nice glass of vino.
So what can we do to move around more? Members of online forums have mentioned using standing desks, treadmill desks and sit-stand desks, and I’ve provided links to articles on these at the end of this post.
I don’t have room for a desk I can stand at (the ceiling is very low!), but I loved the idea of using a desk bike. A year and a half ago I decided to splash out on one – here’s how I’ve been getting on with it.
What is a desk bike?
The one I have is a DeskCycle and it looks like this.
The pedals are attached to a weighted body so they don’t move. You put the bike under your desk, sit in your chair, and away you go!
Some desk bikes – including mine – have different levels of resistance. You can make it easy to pedal or put more effort in (tip: excellent when proofreading reference lists).
There’s a digital display that tells you how many kilometres you’ve cycled.
What do you like about it?
- It lifts my mood. I feel brighter when I use it.
- On the easier settings, I don’t even notice I’m cycling.
- It keeps me warmer in winter (living north of Birmingham, that’s one of the best bits).
- I feel more alert. No more post-lunch slump!
- It makes me feel healthier on days when I don’t have the time or inclination to do anything else.
- It’s really quiet. No irritating squeaking to get on your nerves or annoy your family. Use it while you’re on the phone – no one will know.
- The digital display motivates me to see how far I can get.
- I like knowing I’m doing two things at once. If you can get your exercise in while you work, why not?
- I feel more comfortable and less restless when I’m at my desk for long hours.
What don’t you like about it?
There really isn’t anything I dislike about it! I love using it – it makes me feel happy – and it’s one of the best bits of office equipment I’ve bought.
I’d just like to be able to hook it up to my electricity supply so my pedalling could power my laptop.
Can you still focus while you edit?
Yes. My upper body stays still, so cycling doesn’t affect my typing or my focus on the document I’m working on. The rhythm of pedalling helps me concentrate.
Here’s a short clip of me working with the bike on a medium resistance setting. We can safely say I’m not the next Kathryn Bigelow, but I hope it shows you how it works!
Is it a good workout?
Unless you use the really high resistance settings, it’s more like a gentle walk than a session in the gym (and, let’s face it, no one wants to be sweaty at their desk). It’s more about improving wellbeing and offsetting the dangers of sitting still all day than replacing your local spinning class.
Is it right for me?
A quiet bike that has enough resistance and doesn’t move when you pedal isn’t cheap, so it’s worth thinking about whether it would suit you.
- Will it work with your set-up? You need quite a deep desk so the bike fits underneath and you can still be close enough to your keyboard and monitor. You also need enough room between your legs and the underneath of the desk so your knees don’t hit the desk.
- Do you have a hard floor? If you do, you’ll probably need to attach the bike to your chair so pedalling doesn’t send you sailing backwards across the room. I don’t mind tethering my chair, but if you like scooting from one end of the desk to the other it might restrict you.
- Do you work in one place? The bike works best if you can set it up and leave it under your desk. You can easily swing it round or slide it out of the way if you need to, but it could be too heavy to carry round the house if you regularly work in different rooms.
- Will you enjoy it? This is the most important thing. If cycling makes you feel good, you’re more likely to enjoy using a desk bike – and that means you’re more likely to keep using it.
Which one’s best for me?
If you fancy trying a desk bike, different models (including the DeskCycle) are available on sites like Amazon.
Check for things like:
- whether the bike is designed to be used at a desk
- pedal height (the lower the pedals, the more room you have between legs and desk)
- resistance options
- noise level, and
- customer reviews.
I love mine so much I could kiss it, but I can’t compare it with those I haven’t tried. If you use a desk bike too, please let others know what you think of it by leaving a comment.
Happy cycling! I’d love to know how you get on.
More about alternatives
Katharine O’Moore-Klopf (KOK Edit) reviews her custom-made sit-stand desk: Why I’m a convert to standing at work
Reviews.com compares four standing desks: The best standing desk
BBC reporter Peter Bowes tries one out: Treadmill desks: How practical are they?