Under Desk Treadmill vs Elliptical: Which One is Better?

Under Desk Treadmill vs Elliptical: Which One is Better?

Key Takeaways

  • Under-desk treadmills allow for walking or even light jogging while working.
  • Ellipticals are more compact and offer low-impact but full-body exercise.
  • Price varies, with ellipticals generally being more expensive than under-desk treadmills.
  • Choosing between the two depends on personal needs, space, and fitness goals.


At SOLE, our ellipticals are built to meet the highest standards of quality and performance, making them perfect for individuals looking to integrate more full-body movement into their exercise routine.

Featured Products

  • SOLE Ellipticals are designed to fit diverse fitness needs. The SOLE E95 provides low-impact cardio with its ergonomic design and whisper-quiet operation. For high-intensity workouts, the SOLE E98 features a heavy-duty frame and multiple incline options. The SOLE E25, with its lower step-on height, caters to users with limited mobility for comfortable workouts.
  • At the time of writing, we don’t have any under-desk treadmill.


What Sets Under Desk Treadmills and Ellipticals Apart

Size and Space Requirements

Under-desk treadmills are designed to be compact and space-efficient, allowing users to exercise while working. They are ideal for small offices or home workspaces, requiring minimal floor space and easy setup. 

Ellipticals are usually larger and heavier than under-desk treadmills, requiring more storage space and dedicated areas. Though they don’t usually fold up, SOLE ellipticals like the E95s model come with wheels on the front stabilizer so you can lift and roll the equipment. 

Impact and Exercise Type

Under-desk treadmills and ellipticals differ in the type of exercise they offer. Under-desk treadmills are low-impact; they’re made for walking and can improve posture and bone health due to the weight-bearing nature of walking. They’re perfect if you want to tone several muscle groups: 

  • Leg Muscles: Targets quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves for a low-impact cardio workout.
  • Gluteal Muscles: Engages the gluteus maximus, aiding posture while walking.
  • Core Muscles: Activates abdominal muscles for improved core strength and stability.
  • Postural Muscles: Engages back and neck muscles to maintain good posture and reduce stiffness.

On the other hand, ellipticals offer a low-impact, full-body workout. They are easier on the joints, which makes them suitable for users who may have joint concerns or prefer a gentler exercise form. Ellipticals can target a wide range of muscles, including:

  • Lower Body: Engages glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles for hip extension, knee flexion, and pedal power.
  • Upper Body: Activates triceps, rhomboids, chest, anterior deltoid, and serratus anterior during handlebar movements.
  • Core: Targets rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominals for spinal stability and torso rotation.

Exercise Intensity

Under-desk treadmills provide a range of exercise intensities from light walking to brisk jogging. However, they typically don’t have or have limited incline/decline features since they’re more for walking while working. 

Ellipticals, on the other hand, offer adjustable incline and resistance levels so users can control the intensity of their workout. For example, our SOLE E95 model comes with 20-level resistance and incline ranges which can help increase the effort required and thus the exercise intensity.

Technological Features

Under-desk treadmills tend to have basic technological features that track essential workout metrics such as distance and calories burned. 

Ellipticals offer far superior technological features like Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, fitness app integration, and customizable workout programs. For instance, the SOLE E25—our most affordable product—has stationary handlebars with built-in pulse sensors for heart rate monitoring.

Close-up view of the Sole E25 elliptical machine's console, displaying the digital screen with workout metrics, brand logo, control buttons, and handlebars with resistance and incline adjustment buttons, set against a white background.

Not only that, all SOLE ellipticals can be used with the SOLE+ Fitness app for hundreds of on-demand workout videos and the Kinomap app for a more interactive session. 



Generally, ellipticals are more expensive due to their larger size, more robust construction, and additional features. 

More budget-friendly, under-desk treadmills are good for incorporating movement into daily routine, but they’re made for lighter exercise.

Top Features of Under Desk Treadmills

  • Adjustable Speed: Most under-desk treadmills offer a range of speed settings, typically between 0.5 to 4 mph.
  • Quiet Operation: Many under-desk treadmills feature quiet motors and belts, minimizing distractions and enabling users to take calls or participate in meetings while walking.
  • Portability: Under-desk treadmills often come equipped with wheels for easy relocation.
  • Digital Display: Some models have LED displays that track metrics such as time, distance, speed, and calories burned.
  • Convenient Control Panel: User-friendly control panels allow users to adjust settings while working and without having to leave their workstation. This feature is particularly useful for those who need to multitask while exercising, such as taking calls or responding to emails.

Top Features of Ellipticals

  • Flywheel Weight: The flywheel weight affects the quality and smoothness of the pedaling experience. A heavier flywheel ensures a smoother ride, reduces jerks and vibrations, and provides more resistance, especially during more intensive or long-term workouts. SOLE E98 has the heaviest flywheel weight at 32 lbs.
  • Adjustable Incline and Stride: SOLE ellipticals allow you to adjust the stride length and incline, simulating hill climbs or running motions. This increased hip flexion range works out the gluteus maximus for a more powerful leg drive and toned glutes. For example, the SOLE E25 has a 20-level incline range while the E95S has a power adjustable 18" to 24" stride length. 
  • Variable Resistance Settings: SOLE ellipticals offer adjustable resistance settings, enabling users to increase the workload on their muscles. Higher resistance levels lead to improved muscle strength and definition. That same E25 model has a 20-level resistance range.  
  • Adjustable Pedals: Adjustable pedals allow users to position their feet in a way that keeps their ankles, knees, and hips properly aligned throughout the elliptical motion. This helps reduce strain on the joints and promotes a more natural, comfortable stride. SOLE E95 comes with 10-level knob-adjusted pedals. 
  • Solid Frame: The SOLE E98 elliptical is ideal for intense workout sessions, featuring a heavy-duty frame and multiple incline options, enabling users to push their limits during High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
  • Advanced Features: SOLE ellipticals have advanced features like Bluetooth speakers, phone/tablet holder, reading rack, and integration with apps like SOLE+ Fitness and Kinomap to make for a more entertaining workout session.

An Overview of SOLE Ellipticals

Now, let’s see the top features of SOLE ellipticals: 


Flywheel Weight

Incline Range

Resistance Range

Adjustable Stride

Adjustable Pedals



20 lbs.

20 Levels

20 Levels





25 lbs.

20 Levels

20 Levels


Yes, 3 levels pin adjusted



27 lbs.

20 Levels

20 Levels


Yes, 10 levels knob adjusted



30 lbs.


20 Levels

Power Adjustable

18" to 24"




32 lbs.

20 Levels

40 Levels




Pros and Cons: A Balanced View

Pros of Using an Under Desk Treadmill

  • Forces Continuous Movement: Under-desk treadmills encourage users to maintain a consistent walking pace and reduce sedentary behavior.
  • Natural Motion: The walking motion on under-desk treadmills can provide a more natural and balanced workout for the lower body, engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
  • Easy to Maneuver: Under-desk treadmills are generally smaller and easier to maneuver around.

Cons of Using an Under Desk Treadmill

  • Lower Max Intensity: Cannot achieve the same level of intensity as a traditional treadmill or elliptical.
  • Limited Speed Capacity: Under-desk treadmills have a limited speed capacity, typically designed for walking rather than running, which may not be suitable for those seeking high-intensity workouts.
  • Potential for Sweat and Discomfort: Using under-desk treadmills can lead to sweating, which is probably not very professional while at work. 

Pros of Using an Elliptical

  • Joint-Friendly Workouts: Ellipticals provide a low-impact workout, minimizing stress on knees and ankles. This allows users to engage their glutes effectively without joint pain, supporting longer and more consistent workouts for optimal toning benefits.
  • Full-Body Engagement: Using the handles on an elliptical engages the upper body, providing a comprehensive workout that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the legs, arms, back, chest, and core.
  • Variety and Adjustability: Many ellipticals offer pre-programmed workouts, adjustable resistance levels, and the ability to pedal in reverse, so users can add variety to their workouts and challenge themselves.

Cons of Using an Elliptical

  • Limited Calorie Burn: Ellipticals generally burn fewer calories compared to high-intensity exercises like running, so they’re less effective for rapid weight loss or calorie management.
  • Unnatural Movement: The elliptical motion can feel unnatural for some users, particularly those with specific joint or muscle imbalances. The movement may twist the body unnaturally, leading to discomfort or potential injuries.
  • Stride Length Limitations: The stride length of ellipticals may not be suitable for everyone, and some users may find it uncomfortable or restrictive.

Expert Opinion: Our Take on Choosing Between Under Desk Treadmills or Ellipticals

Under-desk treadmills are ideal for individuals with desk-based jobs who want to incorporate low-impact exercise into their daily routine. They are particularly suitable for those who have limited space or need a quiet workout option while multitasking. These treadmills are designed for low-intensity activities like gentle walks and uphill strolls.

SOLE ellipticals are suited to those seeking a low-impact cardio workout, particularly those with joint issues or mobility limitations. Those looking for a versatile machine that can accommodate different fitness goals, such as fat loss, cardiovascular fitness, or strength training, may also benefit from an elliptical.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do the prices for ellipticals compare to under-desk treadmills?

Under-desk treadmills are generally more affordable because they have fewer advanced features when compared to ellipticals.

What is the price range for SOLE ellipticals?

SOLE ellipticals range from $1,199.99 to $2,899.99. 

What are the key differences between an under-desk treadmill and an elliptical?

The main differences are:

  • Ellipticals are larger and require more space.
  • Ellipticals are low-impact and may be better for those with joint concerns.
  • Ellipticals usually tone the entire body compared to under-desk treadmills that offer brisk walking or slow jogging at most. 
  • Ellipticals allow for a higher-intensity workout.

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