When it’s tough to make time for exercise, you have to get creative. A mini-stepper, for example, is a small machine you can use while watching television or talking on the phone. Some models even fit under a typical desk, letting you exercise while you work -- multi-tasking at its best.
A mini-stepper involves the same type of stair-step pedaling movement as larger models, although often with a more limited range of motion. For instance, a large stair-climber might allow you to lift your knees much higher than a mini-stepper, giving your lower body a more thorough workout. But some people find the decreased range of motion is worth having the convenience of an anytime-exercise option.
The compact size of a mini-stepper is important when you need to store your equipment between uses or when you must exercise in tiny areas. If you live in a small apartment, you might not have room for a large piece of exercise equipment. A mini-stepper that folds for easy storage can fit under your bed or in a closet. Just take it out when you’re ready to exercise, and hide it the rest of the time.
Mini-steppers exercise muscles in your calves, as well as the flexors and extensors of the legs and buttocks, helping develop lower-body fitness. While spot reduction of fat is impossible, a mini-stepper can strengthen and firm the muscles in your thighs and buttocks, according to the book “Doctor Help Me Slim Down!: Firm Up and Get Rid of Cellulite!” by Maria Makarovic. Combine firmer muscles with fat loss, and your lower body will start looking shapely and toned.
Many factors affect how many calories you burn while using your mini-stepper, including the rate of movement, your body weight, length of workout and range of motion. Generally, stair-climbers of all kinds are effective for calorie-burning. For example, a 125-lb. woman using a normal stair-climber for 30 minutes burns about 180 calories. For comparison, that same woman would burn only 165 calories performing low-impact aerobics for 30 minutes. You can increase the number of calories you burn on your mini-stepper by moving faster, increasing the length of your workout, or both.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.