When you must multitask to get in the amount of exercise you want, a mini stair stepper might be the solution. These small, portable machines allow you to work out at your desk, on your couch or standing in small spaces. It doesn't have handles to help support your body, so using the proper form is key to keeping your balance and working your muscles correctly.
Before jumping in and getting your step on, take the time to place the mini stepper correctly. When you're working out while seated at your desk or on your couch, scoot out so you're sitting on the edge of the seat. Put the stepper directly under your knees, then place your feet on the pedals. When standing, place the stepper near a wall, but away from furniture that could hurt you if you lose your balance. You should be close enough to the wall to reach out and catch yourself, but not close enough to other furniture to lead to bruises and bumps if you hop off the machine quickly.
Working out while seated makes the most of your time in a chair. Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James Levine tells KCBY.com that even while seated, using a mini stepper can burn up to 100 calories an hour. Scoot out to the edge of the chair and hold your back straight with your shoulders up. For the best workout from your calves to your glutes, adjust the mini stepper's location slightly so that your shins are perpendicular to the floor. If they lean forward or backward, you won't get an efficient workout.
When standing on the stepper, it's easy to lose your balance before you get used to the movement. Keep your hips centered over your legs and your shoulders above your hips with your back straight. Leaning even slightly forward or backward can quickly hinder your balance. Swinging your arms helps to burn additional calories, but wait until you're comfortable with the movement. Make sure to keep your shoulders in line with your body. Resist the urge to push the pedals all the way to the floor. This can make your pelvis sway and cause soreness afterward. This is more of a problem when standing than sitting; your pelvis stays stationary when using a chair.
For a more powerful workout, add light hand weights, such as 1 to 3 pounds. Move your arms with your elbows bent at 90 degrees as if you were walking, or perform movements such as biceps curls and lateral shoulder raises -- but only if these moves don't affect your balance or body posture. Some machines have clips for resistance bands. These allow you to perform similar moves, but don't provide as much resistance and are less likely to pull you off balance. Always start with the bands of lowest resistance and work your way up to stronger bands.