You don't have to invest in expensive running shoes and fashionable workout clothes to get your daily dose of cardio. A mini-stepper, which is an inexpensive, portable set of pedals attached to resistance bands, provides lots of opportunities for a cardiovascular workout without getting dressed for the gym. Instead, you can do these workouts at home in your pajamas.
The tension in the resistance bands of the pedals can affect how difficult your workout is. More tension will mean more resistance and a tougher workout. If you're just starting with a mini-stepper, loosen the tension until you get a feel for how the machine works. As you get into better shape and become accustomed to the mini-stepper, tighten the bands for more resistance and a more challenging cardiovascular workout.
The most basic step on a mini-stepper is a simple stepping motion that mimics the climbing of stairs. This exercise by itself provides a lot of versatility. You can go at a slow pace to warm up or speed up to a running pace to get your heart pumping. Stepping at a more rapid pace will burn more calories and give you a more intense cardiovascular workout, similar to the benefits of running.
If you incorporate weights into your mini-stepper routine, you can build muscle and work your heart. Try holding hand weights in each hand and moving your arms as you step. To add even more difficulty, try doing biceps curls -- bending your elbow to curl your arm up toward your body -- as you step.
You can increase the complexity and intensity of your mini-stepper aerobics routine by increasing speed, swinging your arms or raising your knees higher as if you were marching. Try stepping to music to make the routine more interesting. To improve muscle strength and maximize your calorie-burning efforts, try incorporating interval training. Step at close to your maximum speed for intervals of 30 seconds to one minute. Then gradually slow down and step at a moderate pace for one minute. Increase your pace again and alternate back and forth throughout your routine.
- High Intensity Interval Training Explained; James Driver
- American Council on Exercise: Step Training Guidelines
- American Council on Exercise: Is Step Aerobics Hard on Your Lower Extremities?
- Keep Moving; Esther Pryor et al.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.