4 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 as a sitting stepper helps your body when you have to sit for long periods.

under desk stepper

List of 4 Best Mini Steppers and Related Content

When do you use a Desk Stepper?

The best desk steppers, described here, are principally used while sitting. Therefore, they do not come with handles. While they could be used in standing mode, it is recommended you do not use them in that mode if you have problems maintaining your balance.

And because they are compact, the desk stepper can be used at work if you have a job that requires a lot of sitting. Furthermore, you can use a desk at home while you are sitting on a couch  watching TV, working on your laptop, playing video games, socializing, and so on.

What is a Desk Stepper?

The desk stepper is comprised of two independent footplates (also known as pedals) that move up and down. Moreover, some versions of the desk stepper also come with handles. And these handles help you maintain your balance when you use the desk stepper while standing. Because the handles are generally not easily removable, a desk stepper with handles can’t be used under the table. 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.

Differences between Desk and Standing Steppers

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

On the other hand, using the 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, cell phone, making phone calls. On the other hand, the standing stepper significantly hinders these 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.

Editor's Choice

Best Desk Steppers

Sunny Mini Stepper 012-S with Resistance Bands

Comparison of 4 Best Desk Steppers

Desk Steppers

Height

(inches)

Display

Unique Features

Warranty

Ratings

(max 5)

EFITMENT Fitness Stepper - S021

7.5

Duration, step count, steps per minute, calories

Cell

3 years

4.8

HARISON Mini Stepper

12.4

Duration, step count, steps per minute, calories

Cell

12 months

4.0

Harvil Mini Twist Stepper

11.81

Duration, step count, total step count, calories

Cell

90 days

4.4

Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper 012-S with Resistance Bands

8

Duration, total step count, steps per minute, calories

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

Not Available

5.0

4 Best Desk Stepper Reviews

EFITMENT Fitness Stepper - S021

mini stepper

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

Desk or Table Use

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

Dimensions

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

Display

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

Footplates

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

Pedal Height

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

Adjustable Resistance

Also, the EITMENT 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 EFITMENT fitness stepper.

Weight

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

Weight Capacity

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

PROS

  • 3-year manufacturer's warranty
  • Pedal reaches a high of 7.5 inches - easiest to fit under a table

HARISON Mini Stepper

stepper

The HARISON mini stepper has the following features.

Construction

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

Desk or Table Use

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

Dimensions

In addition, the HARISON 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 HARISON mini stepper needs a clearance of 13 inches for use under a table.

Display

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

Feet

In addition, the anti-skid rubber feet prevents the HARISON 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 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 HARISON 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 HARISON mini stepper comes with a 12 month warranty with free replacement parts.

Weight

In addition, the HARISON mini stepper weighs 14 pounds, making it easy to lift and move to storage or other locations.

Weight Capacity

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

PROS

  • Lowering the pedal height to be able to use it under a table also reduces resistance
  • 12-month warranty with free replacement parts

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 Harvil stepper's hydraulic resistance provides smooth and quiet workout.

Construction

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

Desk or Table Use

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

Dimensions

In addition, the Harvil mini 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 Harvil twist stepper. Meanwhile, the 11.81 inches is the clearance you will need to use the Harvil mini twist stepper under a table.

Display

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

Footplates

Most noteworthy, the Harvil mini twist stepper's footplates are large and wide with non-slip characteristics. In fact, the Harvil mini 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 Harvil 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 Harvil mini twist stepper's height adjustment knob can be adjusted to lower the pedal height. As a result, you may be able to use the Harvil mini twist stepper under a table.

Adjustable Resistance

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

Warranty

Meanwhile, the Harvil mini twist stepper comes with a 90 day free replacement part warranty.

Weight

In addition, the Harvil mini twist stepper weighs 17.6 pounds, making it easy to lift and move the Harvil stepper to storage or other locations.

Weight Capacity

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

PROS

  • Lowering the pedal height to use under a table also reduces resistance
  • 90-day warranty with free replacement parts

Sunny Health & Fitness 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 or Table Use

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

Dimensions

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

Display

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

Footplates

Most noteworthy, the Sunny stepper has footplates that are wide, textured and have non-slip characteristics. In addition, the Sunny 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 Sunny stepper under a table, use the adjustment knob to lower pedal heights.

Adjustable Resistance

Also, the hydraulic resistance of the Sunny stepper provides a smooth and quiet workout. Furthermore, using the Sunny stepper's height adjustment knob to change stepper height also adjusts hydraulic resistance.

Weight

In addition, the Sunny stepper weighs 14.5 pounds, making it easy to lift and move to storage or other locations.

Weight Capacity

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

PROS

  • Lowering the pedal height to use under a table also reduces resistance
  • Pedal reaches a high of 8 inches - readily fits under a table
  • Comes with resistance bands for use while standing
  • Among the highest rated in this group
  • By far the most reviewed in this group
  • Among the top 10 best sellers of steppers

CONS

  • No warranty information available

How do you Evaluate these Desk Steppers?

Especially relevant, a desk stepper may also be referred to as sitting stepper machine. 

Construction

Moreover, a sitting stepper 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 Stepper Machine

Most of all, there is an additional constraint, if you going to use the sitting stepper 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 sitting stepper exercise 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 sitting stepper exercise machines either have the capability to adjust resistance or they do not.

Sound

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

Sitting Stepper Machine Size

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

The weight capacity is relevant only if you are going to use it in the standing position. On the other hand, if your plan to use it while sitting down a machine with a weight capacity of 220 pounds is more than adequate.

What to Look Out for

Most of all the weakest links in the sitting stepper exercise machine are the pedals and the hydraulic piston. Obviously misuse can easily damage these components. However, if you only intend to use the sitting stepper exercise 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 stepper machine for aerobic workouts, to get a good quality sitting stepper machine.

Conclusion

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

  • First, allows you to use the sitting stepper exercise 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 burned
  • Lastly, has at least a 90 day warranty

What Problems does a Sitting Stepper Machine Solve?

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 Stepper Machine Solve the Problems?

Most of all, a sitting stepper machine, also known as the sitting stair stepper,  helps lessen the negative effects of sitting. Also, because the sitting stair stepper is smaller it is affordable. In addition, the sitting stair stepper can be easily moved around and stored away when not being used. In fact, the sitting stair stepper can be used either at home or in the office.

Also, the sitting stair stepper provides benefits of a cardio exercise. In fact, the repetitive stepping motion of the sitting 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. Most of all, a sitting stair stepper offers a portable, affordable and convenient means to supplement your other daily workouts.

Is there Proof that Using a Sitting Stair Stepper Really Helps Your Body?

First and foremost, many studies show that physical inactivity and sedentary work environments increases insulin resistance. Moreover, this increase in insulin resistance leads to higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Incidentally, University of Massachusetts researchers published a study in October 2018 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Indeed, the study reported that pedaling while working improves the body’s insulin response. While this study used pedals, a sitting stair stepper is simply another way to get an equivalent exercise as the pedals. Consequently, the results of this study also apply to a sitting 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 sitting stair stepper is better than treadmill or standing desk because long periods of standing lowers productivity besides being tiring.

Tone Muscles

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

Because your range of motion is limited on the sitting stair stepper, your muscles will get some exercise. In fact, the sitting stair 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 sitting stair 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 sitting stair stepper.

Other Health Benefits

The sitting 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 sitting stair stepper exercises the calf muscles which increases circulation to your feet and ankles and stops blood from pooling. As a result, your risk of deep vein thrombosis or blood clots is reduced
  • 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 sitting stepper, will reduce these symptoms of edema.
  • 5
    Furthermore, reduces damage to the knees. In fact, the low impact sitting stepper machine does not cause body joints to get jerked or suddenly shocked. However, while the sitting stepper machine does not harm the knees, people with sustained injuries or weak knees should consult a doctor before using the sitting stepper exercise machine.

Calories Burned Using Sitting Stepper Exercise Machine Helps Weight Loss

Meanwhile, the sitting stepper exercise machine (either under a table or in front of a couch) also helps you burn calories. In fact, according to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, using the sitting stepper machine while at work can help you burn about 100 calories in one hour of use. Or, you can burn about 100 calories in an hour using the sitting stepper exercise machine while watching television.

Especially noteworthy, a lean person, using the sitting stepper exercise 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 burned to 200 in one hour.

While an obese person using the sitting stepper exercise 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 burned to 216 calories in one hour by picking up the pace to a step every 3 seconds.

Therefore, you can use the sitting stepper exercise 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 sitting stepper exercise machine for 3 hours each day. Something that’s possible if you sit a lot at work or at home.

Finally, regular sitting stepper exercise machine use, will also increase your resting metabolic rate.

Calories Burned Using Standing Stepper Helps Weight Loss

First and foremost, lean adults stepping at 39 steps per minute burned 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 burned 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.

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.

How is a Sitting Stair Stepper Used?

Most of all, to use the sitting 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 sitting 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 Sitting Stepper

To use the sitting stepper, sit up straight close to the edge of the seat. Next position the sitting 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 sitting stepper, your posture should be such that you are not straining your back or knees.

Guidance on How Much to Use

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 sitting 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 sitting stepper, you need to use the sitting 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.

Other Desk Exercise Machines

Comparison 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.

Links to Desk Pedal Gear

Links to Desk Elliptical Gear

About the Author Lisa