Is a Mini Stepper Good Enough for Cardio?

A mini-stepper can burn up to 160 calories per hour.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Working out while you work might seem impossible, but bringing a mini-stepper into the mix can help you knock out your exercise needs. This small machine fits neatly under your desk so you can work out while on the phone, or pull it out to stand up and work out some of your aggression through healthy exercise.

How Much Is Enough?

    If you don't have time to hit the gym every day but still want to make sure you get in the necessary cardio, squeeze in at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping mini-stepping action. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should get at least 150 minutes of cardio exercise every week. Spread that out over five days, and you get 30 minutes per day. However, that doesn't mean you must pound it out for 30 straight minutes. Break it up into three 10-minute increments if that helps you get in the cardio work you need. If you keep the stepper under your desk, shoot for 60 minutes throughout the day since you're not working as hard or burning as many calories if you are sitting down and exercising.

Calories Burned

    So why is cardiovascular exercise important anyway? For one thing, it raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping powerfully throughout your body, which keeps your cardiovascular system healthy. It also burns calories, which helps you lose weight or work off that extra-cheesy burger you had for lunch. If you stand up on the mini-stepper to work out, a 155-pound person can burn up to 223 calories in a half hour. Sitting down, you can still burn up to 100 calories per hour using the mini-stepper, according to James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at the Mayo Clinic. This makes the mini-stepper about equal to a low- to moderate-paced walk, which is an acceptable way to work in your cardio needs.

Up or Down

    The beauty of the mini-stepper is its versatility. Under your desk, get your feet moving every time you type and email or answer the phone, multitasking to get in your workout while you continue working. For a more intense calorie burn, place the stepper near a wall or sturdy chair -- not your rolling office chair -- to help you balance, then step vigorously for either 10 minutes three times per day or 30 minutes during your lunch break. You should be working hard enough to start breathing heavy, but still be able to carry on a conversation. Most mini-steppers allow you to change the resistance so you can increase the intensity of your workout -- seated or standing -- when you're ready.

Pump It Up

    When you're ready for an even more powerful cardio workout, add some arms. Grab a couple of dumbbells and do biceps curls, overhead presses, triceps overhead extensions or lateral raises as you step. Punch your arms forward to really boost your cardio burn. Some mini-stepper machines have clips designed to hold resistance bands, if you prefer those over dumbbells.

the nest