Stair steppers and climbers provide a calorie-burning alternative to treadmills and ellipticals; but, like their gym-friendly counterparts, their size and cost sometimes makes them prohibitive for at-home use. The mini stepper, however, offers a cost-effective and compact exercise device for a low-impact cardio workout. Simple, floor-level mini steppers feature little more than hydraulic foot pedals mounted on a steel frame, plus ancillary features that vary by model. Despite this variety, most steppers offer the same range of health benefits.
Manufacturers of mini steppers, such as Reebok and Gold's Gym, claim that regular use of their devices helps to tone the thighs and gluteal muscles. Mini steppers also encourage definition of the hips and calves. In addition to toning, mini steppers provide a low-impact, heart-healthy cardiovascular workout. Steppers with bidirectional pads, which move up and down and from left to right, engage the inner and outer thigh muscles, while those with built-in resistance tubes help tone the upper body.
Low-impact exercise on a mini stepper burns about 100 calories per hour, comparable to a slow-paced walk, according to Mayo Clinic researcher James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. When used for two hours per day, that could add up to a net weight loss of about 40 pounds over the course of one year. This number does not compare favorably to full-sized stair-stepper machines, which may burn three times the amount of calories in half the time.
Other Health Benefits
The aerobic exercise provided by mini steppers helps improve joint health in the lower body. Mini steppers also lend themselves to interval training, which entails bursts of exercise separated by short periods of rest. Using a mini stepper for interval training may help improve your resting metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body burns while at rest.
In 2011, most mini steppers fell in the price range of $60 to $100, a fraction of the cost of full-sized steppers, whose prices often reach into the thousands of dollars. These compact and portable devices typically weigh less than 20 pounds and span only about 20 inches long and 20 inches wide. Depending on the model, mini steppers may include features such as adjustable resistance levels and built-in calorie counters to help you track your progress.
- Consumer Search: Stair Steppers: Full Report
- American Council on Exercise: Mini Twist Stepper with Resistance Tubing
- KCBY.com: A Few Unique Ways to Burn Extra Calories – NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thhermogenesis)
- Everyday Health: Calories Burned from Stair Step Machine
- Diet and Fitness Resources: Reebok Mini Stepper
- Gaiam: Mini Stepper with Resistance Cords Plus Bonus CD
- The Christian Post: Mini Steppers, Interval Training and Weight Loss
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.