Best Under Desk Stepper When You Have to Sit

An under desk stepper, also known as a desk stepper or a mini stepper, is similar to a stair stepper found among exercise equipment in many gyms, but much smaller. Most of all, an under desk stepper when used while sitting helps your body when you have to sit for long periods.

Quick Answer: 5 Best Sitting Steppers For 2019

Table of Contents

5 Best Desk Stepper Reviews

Editor's Choice

Sunny Mini Stepper 012-S with Resistance Bands

Comparison of 5 Best Desk Steppers

Desk Stepper

Height 

(inches)

Display

Features

Warranty

+ve User Feedback

Rating 

(max 5)

EFITMENT

7.5

Duration, step count, steps per minute, calories

3 years

87%

5.0

HARISON

12.4

Duration, step count, steps per minute, calories

12 months

70%

4.2

Harvil

11.81

Duration, step count, total step count, calories

90 days

72%

4.4

Sunny

8

Duration, total step count, steps per minute, calories

Resistance bands when used in standing mode and footplates twist side to side

No information

79%

4.9

FootFit

5.5

None

1 year

73%

4.0

EFITMENT Fitness Stepper - S021

mini stepper

The EFITMENT stepper's up and down movement tightens and tones calves, gluteal muscles, and hip flexors. Meanwhile, other features of this stepper are described below.

Desk Use

First and foremost, to use this stepper under a desk, sit on a chair and measure the clearance between the top of your thighs and the underside of the desk.

Dimensions

Also, the stepper is 17 inches long, 12.5 inches wide, and 7.5 inches high.  Consequently, the stepper needs a clearance of about 10 inches for use under a desk.

Display

Next, the LCD monitor displays exercise duration, step count, steps per minute, and calories. Meanwhile, the stepper's scan function sequentially rotates and displays these values continuously.

Footplates

Most noteworthy, the stepper's footplates are wide, textured, and non-slip. Consequently, the footplates will accommodate a broad range of feet and shoes.

Pedal Height

Especially relevant, the stepper's pedal height is adjustable. Therefore, by adjusting the pedal height, to limit vertical pedal movement, may help you to use the stepper under a table.

Adjustable Resistance

Also, the stepper's hydraulic power provides a smooth and quiet workout. However, the hydraulic resistance is not adjustable.

Warranty

Meanwhile, the EFITMENT fitness stepper comes with a 3 years manufacturer’s warranty. Indeed, a 3 year warranty is significantly longer than the usual 1 year warranty and speaks volumes for the quality of the stepper.

Weight

In addition, the stepper weighs 15 pounds, making it easy to lift and move the stepper to storage or other locations.

Weight Limit

Finally, the weight limit of the stepper is 220 pounds when standing. Indeed, anyone heavier may exceed the design limits of the stepper and potentially cause it to break.

Pros

  • Stepper height
    Stepper's pedal reaches a high of 7.5 inches. So, it can be used under  a disk or table.
  • Warranty
    The stepper comes with a 3-year manufacturer's warranty

Cons

HARISON Mini Stepper

stepper

The HARISON mini stepper has the following features.

Construction

First and foremost, the body of the mini stepper is made of heavy duty super sturdy and smooth steel.

Desk Use

Also, to use the mini stepper under a desk, sit on a chair and measure the clearance between the top of your thighs and the underside of the desk.

Dimensions

In addition, the mini stepper is 15.7 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 12.4 inches above the floor at the pedal's highest point. Consequently, the mini stepper needs a clearance of 13 inches for use under a desk.

Display

Also, the mini stepper's LCD monitor displays exercise duration, step count, strides per minute and calories. Meanwhile, the scan function sequentially rotates and displays these values continuously.

Feet

In addition, the anti-skid rubber feet prevents the mini stepper from skidding on smooth floors while providing a smooth and quiet workout.

Footplates

Most noteworthy, the footplates are slip resistant with a surface that provides a foot massage. Moreover, the footplates don’t need you to wear shoes.

Pedal Height

Especially relevant, the pedal height knob changes height of step motion. Moreover, lowering the pedal height also makes it possible to use the mini stepper under a table.

Adjustable Resistance

Also, the hydraulic resistance provides a smooth and quiet workout. Furthermore, using the pedal height knob to change height of step motion also adjusts hydraulic resistance.

Warranty

Meanwhile, the mini stepper comes with a 12 month warranty with free replacement parts.

Weight

In addition, the mini stepper weighs 14 pounds, making it easy to lift and move to storage or anywhere else.

Weight Limit

Finally, the weight limit of the mini stepper is 220 pounds when standing. Indeed, anyone heavier may exceed the design limits of the mini stepper and potentially cause it to break.

Pros

  • Stepper height
    Lowering the pedal height allows the stepper to be used under a table or desk. In addition, changing the height also reduces resistance.
  • Warranty
    The stepper comes with a 12-month warranty. Also, the replacement parts during the warranty period are free.

Cons

Harvil Mini Twist Stepper

mini twist stepper

Most noteworthy, the Harvil mini twist stepper moves up and down and side to side in a low impact twisting motion. In addition, the stepper's hydraulic resistance provides a smooth and quiet workout.

Construction

First and foremost, the body of the twist stepper is made out of heavy duty steel.

Desk Use

Also, to use the twist stepper under a desk, sit on a chair and measure the clearance between the top of your thighs and the underside of the desk.

Dimensions

In addition, the twist stepper is 15.74 inches long, 18.11 inches wide, and 11.81 inches high. Especially relevant, the 18 inch width increases stability of the twist stepper. Meanwhile, the 11.81 inches is the clearance you will need to use the twist stepper under a desk.

Display

Also, the twist stepper's LCD monitor displays exercise duration, step count, total step count, and calories.

Footplates

Most noteworthy, the twist stepper's footplates are large and wide with non-slip features. In fact, the twist stepper's footplates are 12.72 inches long, 5 inches wide, 1.5 inches high. Consequently, the footplates accommodate a wide variety of feet size and shoes.

Pedal Height

Especially relevant, at its highest point, the stepper's pedal is 11.81 inches above the floor, while at its lowest point, the pedal is 3.85 inches above the floor. Moreover, the twist stepper's height adjustment knob can be adjusted to lower the pedal height. As a result, you may be able to use the twist stepper under a table.

Adjustable Resistance

Also, the twist stepper's hydraulic resistance provides a smooth and quiet workout. Furthermore, using the twist stepper's height adjustment knob to change stepper height also changes its hydraulic resistance.

Warranty

Meanwhile, the twist stepper comes with a 90 day free replacement parts warranty.

Weight

In addition, the twist stepper weighs 17.6 pounds, making it easy to lift and move to storage or anywhere else.

Weight Limit

Finally, the weight limit of the twist stepper is 220 pounds when standing. Indeed, anyone heavier may exceed the design limits of the twist stepper and potentially cause it to break.

Pros

  • Stepper height
    The pedal's height can be lowered so that  the stepper can be used under a table or desk.
  • Warranty
    The twist stepper comes with a 90-day warranty. Also, the warranty covers free replacement parts.

Cons

  • Pedal motion
    The pedals move side to side. This may be disconcerting to some who only want an up-down movement.

Sunny Mini Stepper 012-S with Resistance Bands

Also standing

Most of all, when used in the standing mode with the resistance bands, the Sunny stepper tightens over 20 different core muscles including your chest, back, shoulders, inner and outer thighs, abs, and obliques. While, simply removing the resistance bands makes the Sunny stepper a desk stepper.

Construction

First and foremost, for lasting durability, the body of the Sunny stepper is made out of industrial strength steel.

Desk Use

Also, to use the stepper under a desk, sit on a chair and measure the clearance between the top of your thighs and the underside of the desk.

Dimensions

In addition, the stepper is 16.5 inches long, 12.5 inches wide, and 8 inches high.  Consequently, the stepper needs a clearance of at least 10 inches for use under a desk.

Display

Also, the LCD monitor of the stepper displays exercise duration, total step count, steps per minute, and calories. Meanwhile, the scan sequentially displays these exercise measures continuously.

Footplates

Most noteworthy, the stepper has footplates that are wide, textured and have non-slip features. In addition, the stepper's footplates twist side to side.

Pedal Height

Especially relevant, the height adjustment knob adjusts step motion height to give you either short or long steps. Therefore, if you want to use the stepper under a table, use the adjustment knob to lower pedal height.

Adjustable Resistance

Next, the hydraulic resistance of the stepper provides a smooth and quiet workout. Furthermore, using the stepper's height adjustment knob to change pedal height also changes the hydraulic resistance.

Weight

In addition, the stepper weighs 14.5 pounds, making it easy to lift and move to storage or anywhere else.

Weight Limit

Finally, the weight limit of the stepper is 220 pounds when standing. Indeed, anyone heavier may exceed the design limits of the stepper and potentially cause it to break.

Pros

  • Stepper height and resistance
    Pedal reaches a height of 8 inches. Consequently, it readily fits under a table or desk. Also, changing the height changes the resistance.
  • Resistance bands
    These bands give you an upper body workout when you use it while standing.
  • Rating
    This stepper is the highest rated in this group of sitting steppers.
  • Popularity
    This stepper is the most reviewed - an indicator of its popularity.

Cons

  • Pedal Motion
    The pedals move side to side. This may be disconcerting to some who only want an up-down movement.
  • Warranty
    No warranty information was found.

FootFit Stepper

For the elderly
illustration of use

First and foremost, the FootFit sitting stepper is used for improving blood circulation and moving your legs while sitting at a desk, watching TV, or reading a book. Also, it is also good for the elderly with weak joints.

Dimensions

Meanwhile the machine is 15" deep, 11.4" wide, 5.5" high.

Warranty

Also, the stepper comes with a one year warranty. In fact, the manufacturer will replace a defective unit with a new one.

Weight

Finally, the stepper weighs 2 pounds.

Pros

  • Warranty
    The stepper comes with a one-year warranty. In fact, the seller wil replace a defective unit with a new one.

Cons

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Sitting Stepping Machine?

The desk or sitting step machine is comprised of two independent footplates (also known as pedals) that move up and down. And you use it by stepping or pushing down on the footplates with your feet while sitting down on a chair or couch.

Moreover, some versions of the sitting step machine have handles which help you maintain your balance when you are standing on it. Because the handles are generally not easily removable, a desk stepper with handles can’t be used under a desk. And, even if used while sitting on a couch, the handles become a distraction. Therefore its best to get a desk stepper without the handle if you intend to use it while sitting.

When Do You Use This Stepper?

The best desk steppers, described here, can be used while sitting. And because they are compact, they can be used at work if you have a job that requires a lot of sitting. Furthermore, you can use it at home while you are sitting on a couch watching TV.

Most of all, these steppers do not come with handles. While they could be used standing, it is recommended you do not use them standing if you have problems maintaining your balance.

What's the Difference between Desk and Standing Steppers?

Most of all, to use the standing stepper you use your body weight and push down on the footplates. So, to increase the stepping rate and get a better aerobic exercise you quickly alternate from one footplate to the other. However, avoid bouncing or jumping on the footplates.

On the other hand, with a desk stepper, you have to push down on the footplates with your legs. As a consequence, the pushing action exercises your leg muscles. However, the stepping rate is not as high as with the standing stepper. As a result you burn less calories when you use the desk stepper.

Meanwhile, the desk stepper, frees you to do other work such as reading a book, using your computer or cell phone, making phone calls, watching TV, and listening to music or other audio. On the other hand, other than watching TV, listening to music or other audio, the standing stepper prevents those other activities from being done concurrently.

Also, desk steppers are used to get your legs moving when you have to sit for a long time. Consequently, their use is not the same as when you stand on the steppers to get a cardio workout. Finally, standing on mini steppers without handles require you to be able to balance yourself. This may be a problem for some seniors and the elderly.

How do you Evaluate these Desk Steppers?

The desk stepper or sitting step machine is evaluated using the factors described in the following sections.

Construction

Moreover, a sitting step machine may be made of heavy-duty alloy or steel. At least the frame should be metal. And, since you are going to push them hard, the footplates should be made from heavy duty plastic or better.

Display

Displays help you keep track of step counts, speed in steps per minute, exercise time, and calories.

Height of Sitting Step Machine

Most of all, there is an additional constraint, if you going to use the sitting step machine under a table. First you need to measure the distance between the top of your knee, when sitting on a chair, and the floor with your shoes on. Next you need to measure the highest point the top of the foot plate reaches above the floor. Next, the sum of these two numbers needs to be less than the distance between the underside of the table and the floor.

Pedals or Footplates

Footplates should have a non-slip surface to keep your feet secure and stable. In addition, footplates should be large enough to support your entire foot.

Adjustable Resistance

For the most part, hydraulic cylinders with a piston provide the resistance. Incidentally, a heavy-duty hydraulic cylinder will not overheat after only 10 to 20 minutes of use and will let you exercise for at least 30 minutes or more before it starts to heat up.

Furthermore, you may want to be able to adjust the intensity of your workouts. Indeed, this is likely true when you are using the seated stepper machine for aerobic workouts while standing.

On the other hand, when your predominant need is simply to get your legs moving while sitting, the need to adjust workout intensity is likely not there. As a result, the need to be able to adjust resistance settings or even have the ability to do so, is a decision you may have to make. But it’s an important decision because seated stepper machine either have the capability to adjust resistance or they do not.

Sound

Because a sitting step machine is likely to be used in office environments, it needs to run as quietly as possible.

Sitting Step Machine Size

Meanwhile, the American College of Sports Medicine points out that many sitting step machine users feel uncomfortably restricted by the small size of the sitting step machine. Consequently, the seated stepper machine may not give you the workout you want. But if you like the way the sitting step machine feels or you get used to its compact size, the sitting step machine provides some cardio workout.

Warranty

The longer the warranty period the better you are protected against loss from manufacturing defects. Generally, a 90 day period will cover the majority of manufacturing defects. Since most defects are found in this period, it’s important to ensure your purchase is covered during that time.

Weight Limit

The weight limit is relevant only if you are going to use the mini step machine in the standing position.

What to Look Out for

Most of all the weakest links in the seated stepper machine are the pedals and the hydraulic piston. Obviously misuse can easily damage these components. However, if you only intend to use the seated stepper machine while sitting at home or in the office, they will last a long time. In any case, it’s always a good idea, especially if you later decide to use the sitting step machine for aerobic workouts, to get a good quality sitting step machine.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you are looking for essentially an sitting step machine that:

  • First, allows you to use the seated stepper machine located below the desk or table
  • Next, is reasonably solid
  • Also, is quiet
  • Next, offers adjustable resistance, if you need to
  • Furthermore, displays exercise time, step count, steps per minute, and calories
  • Lastly, has at least a 90 day warranty

What Are Sitting Step Machines Used For?

Most of all, a sitting step machine helps mitigate the severe health consequences of regularly sitting for long periods of time.

Hours Spent Sitting

According to the 2017 American time use survey by Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American over the age of 15 spent on average 8.78 hours each day sitting doing activities like, eating, drinking, working, attending classes, doing homework, watching television, socializing, being on the phone, going through mail and emails. 

Consequence of Too Much Sitting

In any case, sitting too much is really bad for your health. In fact, prolonged sitting on a regular basis results in health problems such as:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Obesity
  • Muscles and Posture
  • Develop diseases
  • Cancer
  • Mental Health
  • Longevity
  • Mortality

How does the Sitting Step Machine Help?

By providing some cardio workout, a sitting step machine, also known as the seated stair stepper, helps mitigate some of the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

In fact, the repetitive stepping motion of the seated stair stepper mimics climbing. As a result, your heart and lungs work harder thereby providing an aerobic workout for improved cardiovascular health and increased endurance. Also, because the stepper is smaller it is affordable. In addition, the stepper can be easily moved around and stored away when not being used. In fact, the  stepper can be used either at home or in the office.

Is there Proof That Sitting Stepping Machine Really Helps?

Studies show that physical inactivity and sedentary work environments increases insulin resistance. Moreover, this increase leads to higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. However, a recent study showed that exercising, while sitting, improves the body's insulin response and thereby reduce these risks.

In fact, University of Massachusetts researchers published the study in October 2018 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. And, the study reported that pedaling while working improves the body’s insulin response. While this study used pedals, a seated stair stepper is simply another way to get an equivalent exercise as the pedals. Consequently, the results of this study also apply to a seated stair stepper.

Meanwhile, the study comprised of six men and six women overweight/obese full-time sedentary office workers. And, these seated participants pedaled for two hours while working at their desks. Incidentally, the participants pedaled at their own pace for as little or as much time as they chose.

Next, after eating a light meal, the participants provided blood samples. The blood samples were used for analysis of metabolic responses of glucose, insulin and free fatty acids. Indeed, glucose, insulin, and free fatty acids are linked to obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

When compared to sedentary behavior, the study showed that pedaling required significantly less insulin to maintain glucose concentrations. Consequently, their insulin levels were lower, which in turn, reduced their risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Consequently, the body doesn’t work so hard to maintain blood glucose and fatty acid levels when pedaling. Best of all, their work output and efficiency were not affected by the pedaling.

Finally, a seated stair stepper is better than treadmill or standing desk because long periods of standing lowers productivity besides being tiring.

What Muscles Does it Exercise?

Most noteworthy, exercise machines, in general, move your body forward. A seated stair stepper, on the other hand, requires that you move vertically with an up and down motion of the legs. In fact, a stepper works your lower body, toning your legs and hips.

Because your range of motion is limited on the seated stair stepper, your muscles will get some exercise. In fact, the stepper uses the same muscles as you would when you walk or climb stairs. Indeed, the muscles that get exercised include the hip muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles.  And, the more you use the stepper the stronger the muscles become. As a result, with time your leg’s muscular endurance increases. Lastly, to prevent injury or get sore muscles, it’s important to stretch before and after using the stepper.

What are the Benefits?

The seated stair stepper also helps you in the following ways.

  • 1
    First of all, standing for long periods creates excessive pressure on the legs, which can lead to varicose veins. While using the sitting stair  stepper helps prevent varicose veins.
  • 2
    Next, using the seated stair stepper exercises the calf muscles which increases circulation to your feet and ankles and stops blood from pooling. As a result, there is reduced risk of deep vein thrombosis or blood clots.
  • 3
    Also, reduces numbness in feet and ankles
  • 4
    Next, prevents swelling of feet, ankles, and legs from water retention due to edema. Indeed, regular use of the seated stair stepper, will reduce these symptoms of edema.
  • 5
    Furthermore, reduces damage to the knees. In fact, the low impact sitting step machine does not cause body joints to get jerked or suddenly shocked. However, while the sitting step machine does not harm the knees, people with sustained injuries or weak knees should consult a doctor before using the seated stepper machine.

Does The Sitting Step Machine Help Reduce Weight?

Above all, the seated stepper machine helps you lose weight by burning calories. In fact, according to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, using the sitting step machine while at work or at home watching TV can help you burn about 100 calories in one hour of use.

Lean Person

Especially noteworthy, a lean person, using the seated stepper machine at a leisurely pace of 13 steps a minute or one step every 4.6 seconds, burns about 100 calories in an hour. On the other hand, if your other concurrent activities don’t need as much of your attention, you could speed up the pace to say 26 steps a minute or one step every 2.3 seconds. This pace would double the calories expended to 200 in one hour.

Obese Person

While an obese person using the seated stepper machine at a leisurely pace of 10 steps a minute or one step every 6 seconds, burns about 108 calories in an hour. Similar to the discussion in the previous paragraph, you could double the calories expended to 216 calories in one hour by picking up the pace to a step every 3 seconds.

Effort to Lose One Pound

Therefore, you can use the seated stepper machine to lose weight. In fact to lose one pound you have to burn 3,500 calories. Therefore, if you burn 300 calories daily you could lose one pound in 12 days assuming you ate the same calories as you normally do. However, to burn 300 calories in a day, you would have to use the seated stepper machine for 3 hours each day. Something that’s possible if you sit a lot at work or at home.

Finally, regular seated stepper machine use, also increases your resting metabolic rate.

How Much Weight Do You Lose With a Standing Stepper?

A 2007 study reported that everything else being equal, using a standing stepper for 2 hours a day can result in a weight loss of 44 pounds in one year.

Study Relating Stepping Rate to Calories

First and foremost, lean adults stepping at 39 steps per minute burn on average 312 calories per hour or 0.13 calories per step. In fact, the 313 calories was an average for all the lean adults ranging from a minimum of 221 calories to a maximum of 403 calories.

Meanwhile, obese adults stepping at 40 steps per minute burn on average 433 calories per hour or 0.18 calories per step. In fact, the 433 calories was an average for all the obese adults ranging from a minimum of 324 calories to a maximum of 542 calories.

Next, in order to measure the effectiveness of a standing stepper, a study was done by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2007. Meanwhile, the study included lean adults with an average BMI of 25 and obese adults with an average BMI of 29. Especially relevant, the study used a standing stepper. Lastly, the study reported that everything else being equal, using the standing stepper for 2 hours a day can result in a weight loss of 44 pounds in a year.

Study Relating Exercise Duration to Calories

As another data point, Harvard Health published the following.

  • First, a 125 pound person using a standing stepper for one hour uses up 360 calories
  • Next, a 155 pound person uses up 446 calories in one hour, and
  • Finally, a 185 pound person uses up 532 calories in one hour

Furthermore, adjusting the resistance of the standing stepper allows you to burn even more calories. For example, a 175 pound person using the standing stepper for 60 minutes could burn 556 calories as opposed to 504 calories with very low resistance.

What Are The Steps For Using This Stepper?

Most of all, to use the seated stair stepper, you simply step on the footplates and push down with each foot. Next you move your feet in a stepping or climbing motion. Meanwhile, the adjustable hydraulics  provide resistance as you push down on the footplates.

Warm up

Warm up is pretty straightforward. In fact, start using the seated stair stepper at a slow stepping pace. And keep this up for five minutes or so.

Keep Those Legs Moving

Once you have warmed up, increase the stepping rate to what is possible in your environment. For example, if you happen to be at work and the phone starts ringing, slowing down the stepping rate is natural. On the other hand, if you are surfing the web or doing activities that don’t need your intense concentration, then, yes, speed up your stepping rate to whatever you are comfortable with.

Cool Down

Cooling down shouldn’t interfere with whatever you happen to be doing. For example, if you have to get up and leave the desk or the couch, then go. On the other hand, if you know you have to come to a stop, then slow down your stepping rate for the last five minutes.

Using the Seated Stair Stepper

To use the seated stair stepper, sit up straight close to the edge of the seat. Next position the stepper so that back of the stepper is directly under your knees. In fact, in this position, your shins are nearly vertical to the floor as you push down on the footplates. Lastly, as you use the stepper, your posture should be such that you are not straining your back or knees.

How Long Do You Need to Use It?

Most of all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone do at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic workouts weekly. Therefore, daily use of a under desk stepper for 30 minutes allows you to meet that target in five days.

In addition, according to the Mayo Clinic, to get the most out of the seated stair stepper, you need to use the stepper for at least 10 minutes. Consequently, three 10 minute sessions throughout the day helps you get the recommended 30 minutes of aerobic workout in a day.

How Do They Compare With Other Desk Exercise Machines?

Most noteworthy, some mini steppers may have resistance cords for an upper body workout. Also, some steppers can be used while sitting or standing. Because the stepping action requires pushing down on the pedals against hydraulic resistance, there is greater stress on the knees. But there is a better muscle workout, especially of the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Meanwhile, desk elliptical machines produces a walking action swinging the lower legs back and forth. Consequently, the joints relax during the exercise. In addition, the desk elliptical machines don’t put too much stress on the legs

Finally, desk pedal exercisers have a greater circular motion of the lower legs and hence more circular movement of the knees than the desk steppers described here.

About the Author Lisa