It may not look like much, but that little mini stepper can be a tool to help you improve your health and burn the calories that lead to weight loss. As with any exercise, you get out what you put into it -- meaning that standing up is going to be more beneficial than sitting down and using the stepper. However, sitting down to work out certainly has its place.
The Calories You'll Burn
A lot of people consider a "good" workout to be one that allows you to burn the most calories. From that perspective, using a mini stepper while seated is probably not the "best" workout you can get -- though it will burn more calories than simply sitting around. You can expect to burn about 100 more calories per hour using the stepper under your desk, when compared to simply sitting in your office chair, according to a 2007 study published in the "British Journal of Sports Medicine."
Calories shouldn't be the only consideration, however -- especially if you're someone who works sitting down all day. Sitting down for prolonged periods is linked to a number of health issues, including lower life expectancy, higher triglyceride levels and disrupted metabolic function. To combat that problem, health experts typically recommend aiming for a 50-50 ratio of sitting to standing -- basically spending about 50 percent of your time engaged in something active. By using that mini stepper under your desk four hours a day, then, you could expect to burn about 400 more calories each day. When you're not using the stepper, spend more time standing. Walk around while you talk on the phone or try doing "active meetings," in which you might go for a walk with a client instead of sitting down for coffee, suggests The Huffington Post.
Not a Replacement for Regular Exercise
That low-level exercise you'll get from your mini stepper is going to help you combat some of the effects of your desk job -- but it shouldn't be the only exercise you get. All adults should be doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Moderate-intensity exercise will get your heart pumping to at least 50 percent of your maximum heart rate, and should cause you to sweat after a few minutes of activity. It's going to be difficult to achieve those results by using your mini stepper in a seated position, so also try to walk, jog, ride a bike or do other forms of cardiovascular exercise before your work day, on your lunch break or during other free times during your days.
Everyone is different, with varying levels of physical fitness. If you're unable to walk or jog or do other activities that require standing or walking, using a mini stepper may be one of the only options available to you. To get the best workout possible, use the mini stepper when you're not distracted by other activities such as work, allowing you to put in more effort with each stroke. Increase the resistance on the machine, if possible, to make it more difficult to pedal. And however or whenever you're using the machine, check your owner's manual to find out whether your stepper has a "seated" setting, which may alter the pitch of the pedals to make it more comfortable to use the machine while seated.
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: An Office‐Place Stepping Device to Promote Workplace Physical Activity
- The Huffington Post: Sitting At Work: Why It's Dangerous and What You Can Do
- Washington Post: Desk Jobs Can Be Killers, Literally
- LifeGear: Mini Stepper Owner's Manual
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images