How getting a bike-desk changed my productivity.

How to be productive: “I started working from home on an exercise bike-desk – here’s how it affected my productivity”

Posted by for Workouts

Forget a standing desk – if you’re struggling to concentrate at work, it might be time to hop on a desk bike, says writer Tiwa Adebayo.

After over two years, working from home was starting to drain my energy. Logging back on after lunch was becoming an impossible task, and without outside stimulation, my focus was dwindling to an all-time low.

I started to get a weird Groundhog Day feeling as if I was living the same day over and over. And it was then, finally, that I knew something had to change. 

Most of us are familiar with that fresh post-workout feeling – when your mind is clear and you feel ready to get down to business. If only there was a way to feel like that consistently during the working day. I wanted to harness the power of exercise to fuel my career.

I started searching around and finally hit upon something exciting: an exercise bike-desk. It’s exactly what it says on the tin – a standard exercise bike specially modified to include a desk. That means you can pedal and type (and, if you have one like mine, balance your coffee mug in the built-in cup holder).

Cycling through work: is it worth the faff?

My first day using the bike seemed to fly by. Distracted by the constant exercise – and tracking the kilometres and heart rate stats – the workday was over before it started. But I quickly found that there were way more benefits than boredom busting.

Movement-powered productivity is a phenomenon Marilyn Devonish, a remote working consultant and educational kinesiologist, is familiar with. She explains: “Movement can get your conscious mind out of the way, promoting neurological connections in the creative subconscious, which has more capacity allowing for a greater degree of focus and enhanced learning.”

Cycling through the workday has certainly kept me more engaged. When your bedroom is also your workspace, it’s all too easy to slip into habits such as working from bed. I often end up under the covers, at times fully lying down, kidding myself that I’m only procrastinating because I’m cold and need to be under the duvet to work. 

The bike has taken away that temptation altogether and the constant movement keeps me sharp. Ideas flow better and it’s easier to respond to emails as soon as they come in without being distracted by the allure of my pillow.

Pedalling to boost productivity, at-work happiness and more

I’m also discovering that adding a challenge to the workday beyond my to-do list has transformed my productivity. I’m no longer entirely fixated on meeting all my deadlines because I’m also concerned with maintaining a steady pedal throughout entire meetings or cycling a certain distance over the day. 

These new goals haven’t only brought with them a different sense of fulfilment at the end of the day, but I’ve got more energy to see my assignments through (even if that means sticking around for a little longer after 5pm).

Fitting in a workout while getting my professional work done also really helped to steer me away from the notion of having to choose between career success and looking after my body. Getting away from my desk often proves difficult and remote working hasn’t helped, encouraging an unhealthy sense of 24/7 availability. 

Although home working can bring a number of benefits, slower morning routines and chores during lunch can result in a lack of movement. 

NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), the energy used to do everyday activities such as travelling to work, has been replaced for many home workers, including me, by a 30-second journey from bed to desk. The benefits of NEAT are often underestimated but are far-reaching. For most of us, NEAT accounts for the greatest portion of our daily calorie burning and studies have found that it can even improve risk factors such as cholesterol and blood sugar.  

Knowing that I’m doing something, even if small, to promote my health and wellbeing by using the desk-bike is invaluable – especially when it feels like so much of my time is not my own. Outside of the obvious health benefits, NEAT activities like running for the bus or walking over to a colleague’s desk can provide a refreshing boost to productivity.   

Devonish described it as providing ‘brain stimulation through movement’. “Moving blood and oxygen around the body automatically gives you an energy boost,” she explains. By constantly moving my body, I’m able to replicate these benefits – even at home.

For me, the best thing about my desk-bike is how it seamlessly fits exercise into my working day. I may be slightly swaying side-to-side on video calls, but every day I’m learning to control my body on the bike; my colleagues have no idea what I’m doing from the waist down – and that’s the beauty of it. I’ve gone from seeing exercise as something that can only be done in a particular context, such as in the gym or on a run, to something I can do for myself anytime, anywhere. It feels like I’m reclaiming my health in the best possible way.  

So much of the appeal of remote working is making our careers work for us, preventing work from dictating our time and instead encouraging it to fit into a pre-existing lifestyle.

The desk-bike has proved to me finally that exercise doesn’t have to be this all-consuming, cult-like activity. There’s no reason why it can’t happen in the background of everyday life.

4 exercise desk-bike picks

  • Cycle Desk Bike V9 Pro, FlexiSpot

    5 best desk-bikes: Flexisport
    5 best desk-bikes: Flexisport

    This model is the works: a fully functioning exercise bike with battery-powered screen display and adjustable resistance. It’s also got a spacious, adjustable desk with wheels for flexibility.  

    Buy Cycle Desk Bike V9 Pro, £399.99  

  • Under Desk Bike, DeskCycle

    5 best desk-bikes: DeskCycle
    5 best desk-bikes: DeskCycle

    This compact under-desk bike has a digital display and uses magnetic resistance to give you a smooth workout.

    Buy Under Desk Bike, £140

  • F-Bike folding exercise bike with desktop, Amazon

    5 best desk-bikes: Amazon
    5 best desk-bikes: Amazon

    A full-service fitness bike, this bike desk offers a full-body workout while boasting balance technology to ensure a sturdy working situation.

    Buy F-Bike folding exercise bike with desktop, £110.99

  • Homcom 8-level Adjust Magnetic Exercise Bike Cardio Workout Trainer w/Desktop, Robert Dyas

    5 best desk-bikes: Robert Dyas
    5 best desk-bikes: Robert Dyas

    For convenient storage, this bike desk easily folds away. It also features an LED screen display and adjustable resistance.  

    Buy Homcom 8-level Adjust Magnetic Exercise Bike, £107

For more workout ideas, check out the Strong Women Training Club.

Images: Getty/retailers’ own

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