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Stair Climbing vs Running: Benefits of 2 Exercises in 2020

Both running and stair climbing are great exercise routines. Running and stair climbing have aerobic benefits and tone muscles in the legs and buttocks. However, stair climbing affords many more benefits than running or walking.

Stair climbing builds muscles in the lower body and burns calories.

Benefits of Stair Climbing

Many people choose stair climbing regimens for regular exercise. Benefits of stair climbing that are not experienced with running or walking include:

Vertical Movement

When walking and running, your body moves in a horizontal pattern. With running, your body does experience slight vertical movement.

However, with stair climbing, your muscles are forced to resist gravity and move in a vertical pattern. When you move your body vertically, you place high demands on the lower body.

Your leg muscles must repeatedly lift your body against the pull of gravity. In addition, your muscles must stabilize and balance, which puts even more demand on the muscles in the lower body.

Readily Available

Stairs are generally readily available. Those who run for exercise generally prefer to have a span of distance over which they may travel. Stairs, on the other hand, are readily available in apartments, office buildings, on streets and in public areas.

Stairs are “compact.” Those who prefer stair climbing to running simply need an ordinary staircase for their workout. In fact, all buildings that have elevators also have stairs. Those who prefer to stair climb for exercise may opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator when faced with this choice.

In addition, stair climbing requires no special clothing or equipment. You may want to wear comfortable workout clothes and shoes, but even if you are not dressed for a workout, you can still reap the aerobic and fat-burning benefits of stair climbing.

Faster Benefits

When you stair climb for exercise, you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run and three times more than walking.

An intense stair-climbing exercise session will produce more aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time than running or walking. One hour of stair climbing will burn approximately 1,000 calories.

You burn about 0.17 calories for every step you climb and every stair descended burns about 0.05 calories on average. If you are heavier, the more calories you burn and walking up stairs in high heels is a better calorie burn, but it’s not recommended for your posture and wellbeing overall.

Weather Considerations

Those who walk or run for exercise rarely do so in harsh weather or rain. On the other hand, weather need not become an issue for stair climbers.

Indoor staircases are plentiful so weather is not as much of a consideration for those who choose to stair-climb for exercise.

Less Impact

Stair climbing exposes the legs, ankles and knees to less pressure from impact than running on concrete. Running places a considerable amount of pressure on the feet, as well.

Stair climbing offers the benefit of less impact to the body while reaping more aerobic and muscle-building benefits.

Intensity Matters

Both running and walking burn calories and have aerobic benefits. However, those benefits may greatly increased with stair climbing. The calorie-burning and aerobic benefit of stair climbing is determined by how vigorously the activity is pursued.

If you casually walk up the stairs, the calorie-burning and aerobic benefits are only slightly higher than running or walking, but if you expend some effort and energy, quickly moving up the stairs, the benefit is greatly enhanced.

Overall benefits of adopting stair climbing as your exercise of preference include:

  • Build and tone and muscle
  • No special equipment
  • May be incorporated at any point throughout the day
  • Burns fat and calories
  • Increases heart rate
  • Builds lower body muscle mass
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Increases stamina and energy

How Many Stairs Should I Climb For A Good Workout?

To get a good workout, you can try climbing stairs with 10 to 12 steps, one step at at time, one flight up and down and it will burn around 2 to 5 calories.

A 54kg person burns about 235 calories when climbing stairs for 30 minutes or you can climb up and down a 10-storey building for 5 times to burn around 500 calories.

There are many factors that can influence the calories-burned-climbing-stairs question, such as the person’s current weight, the rise of the steps and the time of the climbing workout.

Is Climbing Two Steps at a Time Better?

Climbing two steps at a time will give your leg muscles and buttocks a more strenuous workout and burn more calories per minutes.

However, the longer stride can be risky if you have poor balance, knee problems or short legs which may increase the chance of injuries. Mix your workout by changing from single-step to double-step climbing for a better balance.

Disadvantages of Climbing Stairs

Although stairs climbing is a great cardio exercise, it may not be suitable for everyone. So you should take note of these disadvantages of stairs climbing:

  • Star climbing can work your leg muscles, but it doesn’t address other muscle groups in your body.
  • For people with problems in the bones or soft tissues of their knees, climbing stairs might cause further injury.
  • If you are overweight or have knee problems, running and climbing stairs must be done in moderation.

Converting Steps to Miles

Climbing a flight of 10 steps of stair is equivalent to taking 38 steps on level ground, according to a professor in the department of kinesiology, recreation and sport studies at the University of Tennessee.

With 2,000 steps to a mile, you’d need to climb around 50 flights to equal a single mile walked according to the expert. Another suggests a number closer to 350 flights to a mile.

How to Start Stair Climbing For Exercise

Experts recommend that when you begin stair climbing for exercise, you start out slow. Start with 10 minute sessions three times per week of stair climbing and slowly build up to more time as your endurance increases.

When you first begin stair climbing for exercise, pay attention to any pain that you may experience in the knees, back, hips or ankles. Over time, build up to 30 minute sessions of stair climbing to reap the most benefits from stair climbing for exercise.

Start your stair climbing routine by first warming up for five to ten minutes. Though walking slowly up and down the staircase will provide the necessary warm up, you should simply walk or do a few jumping jacks to prepare.

After all, you will be faced with overcoming the psychological barriers you face with the staircase. Performing a different activity for your warm-up will help you mentally prepare for your stair-climbing exercise session.

Those who run for exercise know the value of an intense run, as do those who are attempting to enhance their fitness through cardio activities. There are several reasons why a runner would incorporate stair climbing and stair running into their exercise routine. Stair climbing is a great way to cross-train if you are a runner.

A major purpose in cross training is to increase aerobic activity by using muscle groups that are not utilised when running. Stair climbing targets the gluteal muscles and quadriceps. By strengthening these muscles, you will increase power and strength for running.

Even though no special equipment is required for stair climbing, several stair climbing exercise machines are available that are convenient and compact.

If you prefer another form of exercise, such as bicycling or running, stair climbing is a great way to cross-train and place demands on different leg muscle groups.

Stair climbing is quickly growing in popularity as a convenient and fast way to stay fit.

Stair Climber vs Treadmill

If you don’t like to use the stairs for training, you can choose to use the stair climber or treadmill.

A stair climber is a cardio machine consisting of either two foot pedals or a set or revolving stairs. A stair climber is a low-impact machine, which is ideal for people with leg injuries and joint issues.

An incline on a treadmill can stimulate hills and terrain changes that come with outdoor walking or running. Treadmills can increase in inclination from 0 to 35 percent.

The treadmill is higher impact than the stair climber, especially when you increase the speed.

If you don’t have any leg injuries and joint issues, the treadmill incline walking would be a better choice for you. Otherwise, the stair climber may be more suitable for you.

Nonetheless, climbing the stairs is still the most effective in terms of improving heart and lung health than the stair climber.

More About Stair Climbing

Does stair climbing help running?

Yes. Stair running changes things up as you’ll not only use different muscles, but you’ll engage your brain. Running stairs also taxes your body more than running hills and can improve your VO2 max which allows you to run harder and longer.

Is stair climbing cardio?

Yes. Stair climbing is a great cardiovascular exercise that burns lots of calories, while developing both strength and power. It’s a great way to strengthen and tone your legs – from your calves to your butt usually without the impact commonly associated with jogging, running or sprinting.

Is running up stairs a good workout?

Running stairs is an effective high-intensity workout that builds speed, power, agility and cardiovascular fitness. Running stairs is efficient because it targets many major muscle groups and is an excellent workout which can burn 889 calories per hour running upstairs for a 64 kg person.

Can you run stairs everyday?

Running stairs is considered a hit intensity workout and it’s not recommended to do it continuously for more than an hour. You should break up your stair running workout in intervals to allow your heart rate and muscles time to recover.

5 Ways to Get a Crazy Good Stair-Climber Workout

When it comes to standard fitness equipment you’ll find in just about every gym, a stair-climber is at the top of the list. It’s usually somewhere between the ellipticals and the treadmills, but the cardio machine can be an amazing strength-training tool, too.

It’s easy enough to use-one never-ending step in front of another-and taking the stairs to get your daily steps in is important for weight control and building a strong lower body, right? Yes. But there’s an art to crafting an effective stair-climber workout.

Here, five ways to make sure you’re the steps you’re logging are worth your time (and not just wasted time climbing stairs to nowhere).

#1 Focus on building lower-body muscle strength.

Every step on the stair-climber engages your calves, glutes, quads, and hamstrings, so it’s a good way to target and tone your lower body, says Lisa Niren, C.P.T., head trainer of CITYROW in New York City. The key, though, is making sure you keep your back upright and core engaged, so your lower half takes the force. Basically, don’t hunch over if you want the best results.

What’s more, the way your foot lands on the step will actually determine if you are firing up more muscles in your butt or in your thighs. Most people overuse their quads to scale stairs, but if you land with your heel on the step rather than let it hang off the edge as you climb, you can shift more toning to your hamstrings, says physiologist Michele Olson, Ph.D. Land and push off with the ball of your foot to target the quads. Skipping steps is another way to put the emphasis on the back of your legs, says physical therapist Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Movement Vault. To really work your glutes, skip every other stair as you walk up, Olson says, and press through your heel and squeeze your glutes as you stand upright on the next step.

One catch: Even though the stair-climber targets your legs and butt, it doesn’t replace leg day, says Ashley Perez, NASM C.P.T., a trainer at Barry’s Boot Camp. That’s because while the machine will burn calories and improve muscular endurance, it’s still a bodyweight exercise. That means it won’t build the muscles in the same way that resistance training moves like weighted squats, deadlifts, or lunges will.

#2 Use the stair-climber as an effective weight-loss tool.

A stair-climber workout is a smart choice if torching calories is your goal because it utilizes the largest, most metabolically active muscles in your body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, core). Working larger muscles will burn more calories at rest, says Niren. “So when you work larger muscles, you are not only strengthening those muscles, but you are strengthening and quickening your metabolism,” says Perez. The heart-rate boosting cardio mixed with the lower-body strength training means that you’ll burn more calories during and after your workout than you would by doing moderate, steady-state cardio.

Image zoom Photo: wacomka /

If weight loss is your goal, try a HIIT-style stair-climber workout. Interval training increases intensity, which increases oxygen to the working muscles, and ups the afterburn effect (the number of calories your body burns post-workout), says Niren. You don’t have to climb for long to see results. One study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that short bouts of stair climbing (starting with one two-minute session and increasing to five) five days a week for eight weeks increased women’s cardio capacity by 17 percent. “You’re anaerobically training whenever you take the stairs,” Olson says. Instead of just using the pre-designed “fat burning” or “weight loss” programs on the machine, try making your own interval workout. Use one of these HIIT routines from Niren to get you started.

RPE = rate of perceived exertion (how difficult an exercise is for you on a scale of 1 to 10)

Booty-Building Stair-Climber Workout

Perform 3 rounds of the following, with 1 minute of rest in between, for a total of 22 minutes.

  • Slow climb at 3–4 RPE for 45 seconds.
  • Double step at 3–4 RPE for 25 seconds.
  • Slow climb for 45 seconds.
  • Side step at 3–4 RPE for 60 seconds (30 seconds on each side).
  • Sprint at 7–8 RPE for 25 seconds.
  • Slow climb for 45 seconds.
  • Double step for 25 seconds.
  • Slow climb for 45 seconds.
  • Side step for 60 seconds (30 seconds on each side).
  • Sprint for 25 seconds.

20-Minute “All-Directions” Stair-Climber Workout

Complete a 3-minute walking warm-up at 3–4 RPE before performing 5 rounds of the below intervals, followed by a 2-minute cooldown, for a total of 20 minutes.

  • Double step at 3–4 RPE for 30 seconds.
  • Side step left at 3–4 RPE for 30 seconds.
  • Sprint at 7–8 RPE for 30 seconds.
  • Side step right at 3–4 RPE for 30 seconds.
  • Sprint at 7–8 RPE for 60 seconds.

#3 Do a stair-climber workout for recovery.

Using the stair-climber is a lower-impact exercise, so it’s a good option if you have back issues and can’t use the treadmill, says Niren. In fact, research published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development showed that the machine was a useful tool to relieve low-back pain partially because it’s so effective at activating the glute muscles, which takes pressure off your back. (Weak glutes are the catalyst to a host of body troubles, including piriformis syndrome and dead butt syndrome.) The injury-prevention exception: The stair-climber can be tough on your knees, so it’s not the best option if you have pre-existing knee joint issues, says Niren.

#4 Climb to improve posture.

If you already have a tendency to lean forward when walking up a flight of stairs, you’re likely going to have the same poor posture and form on the stair-climber, and hunching over the handrails isn’t doing your body any favors. (Try this good posture workout.) It limits the amount of bodyweight you have to use/lift/move, therefore making it easier and burning fewer calories. This stops you from engaging your core and can lead to worsening posture outside of the gym, says Wickham. While you don’t have to avoid using the handrails altogether (they are there for your safety), you should never press or push down on them with your full bodyweight, says Niren.

But if you walk up the stairs to your office with good posture, it’s safe to assume you have the adequate core strength to use the machine effectively and stay upright with a light grip on the handles. You’ll increase that core strength with every step, which not only keeps that solid posture intact but also helps to prevent or alleviate chronic back pain. Bonus: A strong core makes it easier to perform daily tasks using functional movement, says Niren.

#5 Climb if you’re sick of the elliptical.

When it comes to cardio, you should feel fine simply choosing the machine you enjoy the most, says Wickham, but there’s something to be said about variety. Elliptical burnout is real, says Perez, so try switching it up. Plus, the stair-climber improves functional movement because most people climb stairs every day-you probably don’t exactly move your body like you would while on an elliptical. And moving steps are a good option if you’ve recently started referring to the treadmill as the dreadmill, says Niren. (Try out this fun 45-minute treadmill workout that’ll build your endurance.) You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the muscle gains and cardio burn from this OG fitness machine. Need a place to start? Try these two stair-climber workouts from Chris Powell of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss.

Staircase Workout (on a regular set of immobile stairs)

Complete a dynamic warm-up (1 minute each of high knees, butt kicks, and side shuffles on flat ground), then complete 1 round of the following for a total of 30 minutes.

  • Do bear crawls slowly up the stairs, then walk down for 3 minutes. (Start on ground in a plank position with hands on first step. Move left foot up a step as you move right hand up a step. Repeat on opposite side; continue alternating.)
  • Starting at the bottom, slowly jog up the steps and increase your speed as you climb to the top; walk or slowly jog down for safety. Repeat as many times as possible in 3 minutes.
  • Rest and take a water break for 1 minute.
  • Do 5 burpees on flat ground, then quickly sprint up the stairs; slowly jog down. Repeat as many times as possible for 6 minutes.
  • Rest for 1 minute.
  • Do 10 triceps dips. (Sit on first step, heels on ground and palms flat by hips; slide hips forward off step. Bend elbows behind you to lower body, then straighten arms to lift.) Follow with 3 stair sprints (sprint to the top and walk or slowly jog down 3 times). Repeat dip-sprint combo as many times as possible in 4 minutes.
  • Rest for 1 minute.
  • Jump from step to step up stairs with feet together, then walk or slowly jog down. Repeat as many times as possible in 3 minutes.
  • Walk on flat ground to cool down for 5 minutes.

Stair-Climber Circuit Workout

Complete 3-minute warm-up (start at an easy pace, then increase by 1 level each minute) then complete 1 round of the following for a total of 30 minutes.

  • Step off machine and do dynamic stretches on floor (1 minute each of high knees, butt kicks, and side shuffles) for 3 minutes at 2–3 RPE.
  • Start at a moderate level and take quick steps while holding the handrails for 2 minutes at 6 RPE.
  • Increase by 2 levels for 2 minutes at RPE 8. Let go of handrails if you can safely balance; otherwise, hold on lightly.
  • Return to moderate level for 1 minute at RPE 6, holding the handrails.
  • Skip a step as you climb for 2 minutes at RPE 9. Let go of handrails if you can safely balance, or hold on lightly.
  • Return to moderate level, taking single steps (no skipping steps) and holding the handrails for 3 minutes at RPE 6. (Let go of rails and pump arms if you can balance.)
  • Increase by 2 levels for 2 minutes at RPE 8.
  • Return to moderate level, holding the handrails for 1 minute at RPE 6.
  • Increase by 3 levels, skipping a step as you climb for 2 minutes at RPE 9. Let go of the handrails if you can safely balance, or hold on lightly.
  • Return to moderate level, holding the handrails for 1 minute at RPE 6.
  • Holding handrails, alternate 1 minute at a near all-out level and 1 minute at a moderate level at RPE 9.5 and 5. Repeat combo 3 times.
  • Cool down at a light-moderate level, holding handrails for 1 minute. Reduce by 1 level after 1 minute.
  • By By Gabrielle Kassel and Jenna Autuori-Dedic

A beginner’s guide to stair climbing

In honor of today’s Big Climb at the Columbia Center for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, we take a look at arguably the cheapest and easiest workout on your body: stair climbing.
In a hilly city like Seattle, stairs can be found everywhere. While that might prove a pain when walking home from the grocery store, it’s a blessing when trying to work out. PJ Glassey is the CEO of Seattle’s X-Gym, and an avid stair climber who calls it the ‘best workout on the planet’. He and fellow X-Gym members have routinely placed in the top 20 of the 3,000 participants in the Big Climb for the last couple years.
“Stair climbing is the ideal exercise because it’s low impact,” said Glassey. “Which pretty much guarantees no injuries.”
Not to mention, it’s free. In this day and age when personal trainers, barre classes and yoga can run upwards of $100 a class, saving this kind of money AND seeing fitness results is priceless.
“If you work in a building with more than 10 flight of stairs, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using them as your personal gym,” said Glassey.
And if you don’t, no worries. Here’s a map of outdoor local stairs in the greater Seattle area where you can take your workout.
Another pro? Glassey says that a solid 10 minute intense stair climbing workout can burn the same amount of calories as an hour long jog. So we’re not only talking saving money, but time as well.
We asked PJ to put together a short beginner’s workout for people (like me) who have never done stair climbing as a workout, and who aren’t aiming to be Top 5 at the Big Climb. Or even planning on ever climbing 69 flights. Ever. Who knew there was a right and wrong way to ascend, descend, and even hold onto the rail? You do now.
Before you start, note a couple of PJ’s tips:

  • Descending. If you can, always take the elevator down stairs. Going down can be incredibly hard on your body, and if you’re doing multiple reps, can give you a level of soreness the next day that no one wants. If you’re outside and have to walk back down, use the descending techniques in the photo gallery to make it easier on your body.
  • Rail. Use the rail going up and down. This gives you an upper body workout as well and keeps your gait in check (falling down stairs sucks)!
  • Breathing. Breathe through the nose and out the mouth as long as you can. This will improve your endurance and allow you to push harder.
  • Double step. Take stairs two at a time if you can. This might seem like it’s harder, but single stepping actually exerts more energy.

PJ’s Rookie Stair Climb Workout
1. Start slow with a warm up pace for 3-4 minutes, going up and down the stairs of your choice. This gets your heart and lungs warmed up and ready for the upcoming workout.
2. Go at a medium pace for 1-2 minutes. This breaks your system in, both physically and mentally so you’re prepared to work hard.
3. Spend the next four minutes doing Tabata training. Tabata is an interval program that mixes 20 seconds of activity with 10 seconds of rest. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Sprint 100% intensity for 20 seconds.
  • Slow down (to a near stop) for 10 seconds and concentrate on breathing, relaxing and recovering.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. This sprint will probably be about as fast as your last sprint.
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. This sprint won’t be as fast as the last one, but that’s okay – just make sure it’s still 100% effort.
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. Now you are slowing down considerably on your sprints, but no worries – only the 100% effort matters!
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. That this point, 100% effort feels more like cold molasses, but that’s okay, speed has become irrelevant and your continued full effort is all that remains.
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. If you are really putting in 100% effort into all of your sprint segments, you will be laughing at yourself by this point at how slow your 100% is.
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. You’re 100% now is a total joke, but remember that speed doesn’t matter, only 100% effort matters!
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.
  • Another 100% sprint for 20 seconds. Last one! Go for it! If you can go faster on this one then the last one, then you were sandbagging on some of the other sprints, so just learn from it and push harder next time.
  • Another 10 seconds slow recovery interval.

4. Finish with one more easy climb, and force a smile on your face during it. Why? The brain remembers the last part of your workout, and so ending with a pleasant experience will help your brain remember things more favorably.
5. Cool down and stretch.

Tips For Using A Step Machine Or Stepper

Gym & Workouts

Step machines (or steppers) aim to simulate climbing stairs. Steppers enable exercisers to obtain stronger legs and increase cardiovascular endurance. Here’s our guide to step machine exercise and it’s benefits.

Step machines (or steppers) aim to simulate climbing stairs. Steppers enable exercisers to obtain stronger legs and increase cardiovascular endurance. Here’s our guide to step machine exercise and it’s benefits.

Most people are familiar with the motion of walking up stairs, the only difference with a step machine is that the stairs never stop and you have to keep climbing to keep up with the machine. There is a little bit of technique involved with a stepper but most of you will able to just jump on and go. The only difficult bits are tackling the speed, intensity and duration of the stepper exercise.

Tips for using a stepper

  • When you first start out on the stepper you may think there is no way you can carry on as your legs become tired quickly. The key to using the step machines is rhythm – if you try too hard or go too fast at the start you will struggle to maintain the pace or complete your workout. Start off at a reasonable rhythm and maintain it until you feel comfortable.
  • When you feel more comfortable on the machine you can start to incorporate some sessions. You don’t just have to do steady-state work on the stepper and always follow the same routine. By changing the pattern of your training on the stepper you’ll find it easier to concentrate, are less likely to get bored and will see more progress in your fitness.
  • Keep your feet flat on the machine and stand with a straight back to maintain correct form whilst on the stepper.
  • Once you are comfortable with the motion of the machine, try to minimise your use of the handrails. This will engage the muscles further and make them work harder and as a result, you will burn more calories through the workout.
  • Limiting your use of the handrails will also engage your core as you will be focusing on maintaining the correct posture and maintaining good form.

Benefits of using a stepper

  • The step machine is great for working and toning your lower body in particular, as the movement works on the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calf muscles.
  • The step machine is a great low impact aerobic activity which will give a good cardiovascular (CV) workout and a suitable alternative to running or jogging which can cause damage to the joints.
  • Your stability and balance will likely improve as a result of using a stepper.
  • You can set the intensity of the training, increasing the resistance on the machine when you want to gradually make the training harder.
  • If you are using the machine at home, the stepper is much smaller than alternative CV machines such as treadmills or exercise bikes.

Calories burned on the Stair-treadmill

  • Calories burned Air Walker
  • Calories burned Arm Bike
  • Calories burned Assault Air Bike, High Intensity
  • Calories burned Assault Air Bike, Moderate Intensity
  • Calories burned Cardio Wave Machine
  • Calories burned Cross Trainer (Elliptical Trainer) – vigorous effo
  • Calories burned Cross Trainer (Elliptical Trainer), light effort
  • Calories burned Cross Trainer (Elliptical Trainer), moderate effor
  • Calories burned Cross Trainer (Elliptical Trainer), very vigorous
  • Calories burned Cross Trainer (Elliptical Trainer), vigorous effor
  • Calories burned Cycling, in the gym, general
  • Calories burned Cycling, in the gym, light effort
  • Calories burned Cycling, in the gym, moderate effort
  • Calories burned Cycling, in the gym, very light effort
  • Calories burned Cycling, in the gym, very vigorous effort
  • Calories burned Cycling, in the gym, vigorous effort
  • Calories burned Rowing, in the gym, light effort
  • Calories burned Rowing, in the gym, moderate effort
  • Calories burned Rowing, in the gym, very vigorous effort
  • Calories burned Rowing, in the gym, vigorous effort
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 10 mph (6 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 10.9 mph (5.5 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 10km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 11km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 12km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 13km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 14km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 15km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 5 mph (12 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 5.2 mph (11.5 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 6 mph (10 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 6.4% incline, 6mph
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 6.7 mph (9 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 7 mph (8.5 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 7.5 mph (8 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 7km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 8 mph (7.5 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 8.6 mph (7 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 8km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 9 mph (6.5 min mile)
  • Calories burned Running, treadmill, 9km/h (kilometres)
  • Calories burned SkillMill Treadmill – general jogging
  • Calories burned SkillMill Treadmill – running, fast paced
  • Calories burned Stair climbing (machine – intense)
  • Calories burned Stair climbing (machine – moderate)
  • Calories burned Stair-treadmill ergometer, general
  • Calories burned Stepper, in the gym
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.5% incline, 2 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.5% incline, 2.5 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.5% incline, 3 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.5% incline, 3.5 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.5% incline, 4 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.5% incline, 4.5 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 3.8% incline, 4.2 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 6.4% incline, 2mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 6.4% incline, 4mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, 9% incline, 3.5mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 2 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 2.5 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 3 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 3.5 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 4 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 4.5 mph
  • Calories burned Walking, treadmill, no incline, 4.6 mph

Best Mini Steppers

Using the best mini stepper can offer a great workout without taking up a lot of space in your home. A mini stepper machine can also come with a lot of additional options that can make your workout unique.

While mini steppers have been around for a long time it is only recently they have become more popular as people have realized that they can be used while sitting – some models, anyway – and you can still burn calories while sitting at a desk at work.

The only question is; which one is best for you? That’s where this guide is going to help you out.

Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster FP1 Exercise Mini Stepper/Elliptical Trainer Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper
Weight Capacity: 400 Pounds 220 Pounds 250 Pounds
LCD Monitor: No Yes: measures time, calories burned & step count Yes: measures time, calories & step count
Handlebars: No No Yes
Weight: 13.5 Pounds 12 Pounds 41 Pounds

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Mini Steppers For 2020

  1. Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster
  2. Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper
  3. Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer
  4. FP1 Exercise Mini Stepper/Elliptical Trainer
  5. Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper
  6. jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper
  7. Kettler Home Exercise Montana Stair Stepper

Our reviews of the top rated mini steppers with our comparison table and buyers guide to steppers will help you choose the right one for you.

Mini Stepper Reviews

#1 Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster Review

The Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster is great for High Intensity Training, or HIT, and that makes it perfect for training for the fitness trends like CrossFit and Tabata.

HIT aerobics should not be your entire fitness regimen but this mini stepper will help you incorporate the HIT you need into your workout. You can help fight depression by working out regularly. You can also strengthen your immune system and reduce stress.

Using the mini stepper can even help you get a better night’s sleep and make sure you are getting proper sleep hygiene.

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In fact, regular use of a stepper exercise machine such as this can improve memory, posture, and metabolism as well as improve your physical and mental health.

I found that when I really pushed this machine, it was able to keep up with me and I felt completely stable on it. You’re meant to go fast, and do that high intensity training so you get your heart pumping and that is exactly what I was able to do.

The textured grips on the steps really helped my trainers grip so I didn’t feel as if I was going to slide off while I was pushing the speed.

This mini stepper may not look like much but it is a quality-made piece of machinery that is made in the USA. I think the Xiser is the best stepper exercise machine.

Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 400 Pounds
  • Folding: Yes
  • Fitness Display: No
  • Stepper Weight: 13.5 Pounds

#2 Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper Review

Even with the twisting action included in this mini stepper that helps to tone the glutes and thighs, you are still getting a low impact workout that doesn’t put added stress on your bones and joints.

You can turn up the resistance to really give your workout an impact or as you become stronger and more toned and need that added tension.

The mini stair stepper is safe with a slip resistant surface on oversized footplates. It is built with heavy duty materials so you know it can handle a hard workout and will last you a long time.

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The built in LCD display shows total steps, total time, and calories burned. It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds.

I enjoyed the twisting motions of this mini stepper. I felt like I was really getting a deep workout into my thighs and glutes and because of the heavy duty construction I really pushed the machine with tension and speed and didn’t feel like I was unsteady or like the machine was in any way unsteady either.

Once again, with the oversized footplates, I liked that I could narrow or widen my stance and work different muscle groups, and with the slip resistant surface I felt steady on them. I would say this is the best portable stepper.

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds
  • Folding: No
  • Fitness Display: Yes
  • Stepper Weight: 20 Pounds

#3 Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer Review

The Stamina In-Motion is another mini stepper that can be used either sitting or standing. Of course, if you use it standing you burn a lot more calories, and I found that I did so quite easily by adjusting the tension knob.

Even with the tension quite high it was very quiet so I was able to listen to my music at my desk and I was able to hear the TV. I tried it while standing at the TV with the tension up and it was still fairly quiet.

The monitor screen tracks your progress so you can keep an eye on how well you are doing with your workout.

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While it didn’t track everything that the Sunny machine did, it still did a very good job at giving me the information I needed.

I loved the fact that I could pedal either forward or backward on this machine. When going in reverse, you use different muscle groups and I definitely felt that when I used this feature.

Video: See the Stamina mini stepper/elliptical in action.

Oh, and it also comes in three different colors! You can get it in the traditional black, or you can choose lime green or bright orange. Show off your personality and make it fun to work out!

Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 240 Pounds
  • Folding: No
  • Fitness Display: Yes
  • Stepper Weight: 24 Pounds

#4 FP1 Exercise Mini Stepper/Elliptical Trainer Review

This compact mini stair stepper fits perfectly anywhere in your home. You can even stash it in a corner or in a closet when you’re not using it so you can keep it out of sight should you have guests over or something like that. Even though it is small, it is made of heavy duty steel.

You will get a low-impact workout on a small machine that has oversized footplates. I loved that I could use those extra big footplates to widen my stance just a bit and use different muscle groups.

I was also able to dial up the resistance with this machine which is surprising given how compact it is.

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This mini stepper machine also has an LCD display that will show you your total step count, the time you have been working out, and the number of calories you have burned.

This machine is a little different than others on this list because it is a “swivel” mini stepper. It gives a little bit of a different movement when you step, so it targets different muscle groups than traditional mini steppers.

You will target your glutes and tone your thighs, strengthen your legs, and get a great cardio workout all in one. I would rate the FP1 as the best mini stepper machine under $100.

Loctek FP1 Exercise Stepper at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 220 Pounds
  • Folding: No
  • Fitness Display: Yes
  • Stepper Weight: 12 Pounds

#5 Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper Review

With the Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper you get all the benefits of a larger machine, but you don’t have to have the room in your home to keep it out in the open because it folds and wheels away nicely to anyplace you’d like to tuck it.

I actually placed mine behind a bathroom door and while the bathroom door was open, no one could even see it.

It was great! Because it is a larger step exercise machine, when using it you are getting the benefits of a larger machine, including a more intense workout of your: glutes, hips, and thighs.

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You’re also getting a strong cardiovascular workout and an all over muscular workout as well. There are two adjustable hydraulic cylinders that give a smooth pumping action. They are nearly silent while using the machine.

Using the Spacemate home stepper made me feel like I was using a piece of fitness equipment at a gym and I wasn’t! I was at home, in my living room, and afterwards, the machine wasn’t in my living room anymore. And what’s best, I didn’t have to drive to a gym or even pay a gym membership fee.

Video: Overview of the Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper.

The handlebars are rubber coated so they were really comfortable and they didn’t allow for my hands to slip when I started really pushing the machine to its limits and I was sweating hard. Because this is a bulkier piece of equipment, it is a little harder to maneuver around the house if you want to move it.

It also makes you feel like you are using a real piece of fitness equipment and you can also push it harder as it is more durable and made to be used a bit more. The Spacemate is the best home stepper you can buy.

Stamina Space Saving Folding Steppers at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds
  • Folding: Yes
  • Fitness Display: Yes
  • Stepper Weight: 41 Pounds

#6 jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper Review

The great thing about this jfit portable stepper is that you can use it sitting down with it under a desk – comfortably – or you can use it standing up because you can adjust the angle at which the pedals sit.

I tried it both ways and was pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was to use both ways and also as to how easy it was to switch from one to the other.

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Its easy to move around since it has handles to carry it from one place to another, and if you have to slide it out from under the desk, it has wheels! How awesome is that!

You can burn up to 300 calories just by sitting down at a desk, or even on your couch while watching TV or talking on the phone. I don’t think I’ve ever burned 300 calories so easily in my life, and that is really, really amazing!

jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Stepper at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds
  • Folding: No
  • Fitness Display: Yes
  • Stepper Weight: 32 Pounds

#7 Kettler Home Exercise Montana Stair Stepper Review

Kettler Home Exercise knows that it is important to get your exercise in every day to improve not only your cardiovascular health but also your muscular health as well.

They are completely linked and using the Montana Stair Stepper helps with both at the same time.

The Montana step exercise machine has hydraulic pistons that can be adjusted for different resistance based on weight and also what type of workout you are looking for.

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The handlebars are ergonomically shaped and the rubber surface was easy to grip even once I started sweating during my workout.

This stepper machine also has textured footplates so you will feel steady on them, as did I, even though I was pushing the weight limit of the machine. The weight capacity is 250 pounds and I’m around 240, but I still felt steady on it nonetheless.

The feature I really loved about this particular mini stepper was the LCD display. It didn’t just display the usual stats such as the time you’ve been working out, the steps you are taking per minute or hour, and the total steps taken – which it did.

It also displayed the amount of energy I had used, the height I had climbed, the room temperature, as well as my heart rate. All of that information can be invaluable if you are tracking your fitness goals over time. Overall I would rate the Montana as the best step exercise machine.

Kettler Home Exercise Stair Stepper at a Glance:

  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds
  • Folding: Yes
  • Fitness Display: Yes
  • Stepper Weight: 75 Pounds

Mini Stepper Comparison Table

Mini Stepper Weight Capacity Folding Fitness Display Design Rating
Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster 400 Pounds Yes No Stepper 4.2 / 5.0
Sunny Health & Fitness Stepper 250 Pounds No Yes Stepper 4.2 / 5.0
Stamina In-Motion Elliptical 240 Pounds No Yes Elliptical 3.9 / 5.0
FP1 Exercise Mini Stepper Trainer 220 Pounds No Yes Stepper 3.6 / 5.0
Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper 250 Pounds Yes Yes Stepper 3.6 / 5.0
jfit Under Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper 250 Pounds No Yes Elliptical 3.9 / 5.0
Kettler Montana Stair Stepper 250 Pounds Yes Yes Stepper 3.7 / 5.0

How To Choose the Best Mini Stepper for You – Buyers Guide

  • What Kind of Workout Can You Get from a Mini Stepper?
  • What Types of Mini Steppers Are There?
  • What Options Are Available?
  • Other Things to Look For

A mini stepper can offer a great workout without taking up a lot of space in your home. It can also come with a lot of additional options that can make your workout unique depending on the one you choose.

You can switch up your routine each time, build up your resistance so that you become stronger and more toned while losing more weight.

By purchasing additional items to tailor your mini stepper experience to your needs such as using resistance bands or kettle bells if your initial purchase becomes too “simple” of a workout for you.

Mini stair steppers have been around for a long time but they’ve recently become more popular as people have realized that they can be used while sitting – some models, anyway – and you can still burn calories while sitting at a desk at work.

This has made the sedentary lifestyle that many are forced to live when they work a “desk job” a little easier to handle, especially when it gets a little tiresome just sitting there all day and your feet have literally nothing to do.

Why not burn a few calories instead? Of course, you do burn more and get more out of a workout if you use the stepper standing up, so on your breaks, you just pull it out from under your desk and spend 5 or 10 minutes getting in a real workout. It’s as easy as that.

But you don’t just have to use a stepper exercise machine at work. With as small and portable as these machines are, they are easy to keep at home and use in front of the TV while watching your favorite program.

Before you know it, you have a half hour or an hour of a workout in and you have burned calories and gone a long way toward toning muscle and improving your overall health.

The following is a guide as to what you should look for when purchasing a mini stepper. I followed this guide myself when looking for ones to review for you and I came up with 7 really great ones you see above. I think that in this list, you will find one that will fit your needs perfectly.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

What Kind of Workout Can You Get from a Mini Stepper?

A mini stepper is meant to mimic the effects of climbing stairs. We all know that taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a lot better for us, so why not just climb stairs when you’re at home or at the office, right?

Depending on how fast you go and what resistance you choose on your machine (if your machine has this option) you can expect different results. A slower pace with tighter resistance will build muscle strength, while lower resistance but a faster pace will give you more of a cardio exercise.

It’s important to vary your workout, if you can, from day to day so that you get a variety of results. You may even want to try interval training where you do short bursts of speed and then slow for a few minutes and then go really fast again.

It is recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone get at least 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise every day and a mini stepper will definitely help you do that.

It’s perfect for helping you get this exercise in if you live in an area where you may not be able to get this exercise outside, such as where it snows, gets windy, or rains a lot.

Or, you may just want to invest in one mini stair stepper and use it often in your home rather than pay a membership fee to a gym every month to use only a few machines. Plus, let’s face it, you’re more apt to come up with an excuse to not go to the gym if you have to drive there!

Mini Stepper Benefits:

  • Leg strengthening
  • A strong workout of your glutes
  • Muscle toning
  • Improved immune system
  • Weight loss, over time
  • A boost to your heart and lung health

What Types of Mini Steppers Are There?

There are three types of steppers.

  • Traditional Steppers – that just go up and down and mimic the stair climbing action pretty closely.
  • Elliptical Steppers – that have more of a circular motion, much like you would find on a full elliptical machine that has the arm movements and the full rotation of the legs, except here you are only doing a slight rotation of your feet in a stepping motion and there is no arm movement involved.
  • Mini Elliptical Steppers – that give more of the rotation but are still smaller than a real elliptical machine because you are only using your feet.

The type you choose for yourself really depends on a few factors. If you don’t have much balance, you may want to stick with the standard, up and down motion of a regular mini stepper.

This type of stepper is also perfect for those who want to do other exercises with their hands, such as use dumbbells, while using the stepper since you won’t have to concentrate so much on your balance with your feet.

The elliptical steppers and mini ellipticals are great for people who may use them either sitting or standing, or will only be using the machine itself while standing.

If you don’t have much coordination or have poor balance, this type of machine can be a little tough to get used to at first, and I had to set mine near a wall to set my hand against it for balance until I got the hang of it.

After I did, however, I was good to go and it didn’t take much time to get used to. I was able to jump right on it and go after that.

What Options Are Available?

There are several optional features that you may find available as you look at different models of mini steppers. Some of them may be important to you as you look through them and others you may not need.

Make sure that you know what features you absolutely need in your new mini stepper so that you don’t compromise when choosing the right step exercise machine for you.

Handlebars

When I was trying out the mini stepper that had the handlebars I found them quite helpful at first. But then I found I wasn’t using them.

You may always want them there. Or, perhaps you may absolutely need if you have a problem with balance and you need something to hold onto. Some mini steppers feature handlebars that can be removed and reattached.

Built-in Adjustability /Tension Bands

If you want to adjust your workout yourself by just how fast you go, you can always do that. However, if you want to add resistance to your workout so that you can tone your muscles and lose weight even quicker, plus increase your cardio workout efficiency, you will want to be able to adjust the tension on your mini stair stepper.

Some stepper machines have dials that you turn to adjust the tension so it’s already built in and others have bands that you have to add yourself to be able to add or remove tension. Either way, if this is something you want or need, be sure the machine you choose has this feature.

Progress Tracking

Not all machines have them, but if you want to be able to track your progress through steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, or other important stats, you should look for a machine that has a digital display that will tell you these things.

Some only record for the session you are in, and others will remember multiple sessions so you can track your progress over time.

Other Considerations For Mini Steppers

Size

Size is a factor either due to the fact that you will be placing it under your desk at work or at home, you don’t have much space in your home, or you want to easily move it around your home, then look at both the dimensions of the machine as well handles to make it easy to transport.

Durability/Weight

You also want to look at what the machine is made out of. You want it to be durable but also lightweight. The structure of the mini stepper should be made of solid materials such as aluminum, but parts that aren’t as critical can be made of lightweight but durable plastic to reduce weight.

Noise Level

Not all fitness machines are created equal when it comes to how noisy they are. Some are very quiet and some are loud. If you want to use this at work, you need something quiet so you don’t disturb your coworkers.

You will also want something quiet if you are going to want to watch TV or listen to music while using your mini stepper.

Price

An important factor for some people when deciding to purchase any piece of fitness equipment – whether it is a small piece like a mini stepper or something larger – is the price point.

Make sure that you are getting the features that you need within the budget that you set for yourself, and if you can add in a few features that you’d like to have and still stay within your budget then that’s all the better!

I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best mini stepper to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a stepper I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.

Have fun and enjoy your workout!

Features
Versatility
Value

We liked the Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster the best for its quality design and ease of use.

User Rating: 2.3 ( 13 votes)

Here’s what happened when I climbed stairs everyday for a month

I have been an athlete always. So, my body is used to high cardio activity. However, when I went to college, running had to take a backseat. Consequently, I was out of practice and like the rest of you who don’t run regularly, I was hyperventilating after climbing stairs.
Recently, the fitness-expert in me wanted to try a new workout. Believe you me, I have tried everything to get back into shape. From yoga to joining a gym to cardio dancing, everything has been tried and tested. I did shed all those extra kilos, but the one thing that always pinched me was that my legs and arms just didn’t get into shape. They weren’t firm enough or toned enough. If you have been an athlete through your school years, you will understand my pain.

So, one day, I decided that I will try something new. If I climb stairs, it will definitely burn calories. The best part about this exercise was that I didn’t have to get out of the house, and hence, change from night suit into running wear every morning just to go to my neighborhood park. I will wear my jogging shoes and get to work as soon as possible.
When I started this regime, I decided that the time would be exactly 15 minutes every day, climbing stairs up & down. This means, that unlike my other exercise plans, I needed to stick to this one for at least 6 days a week and not 4 or 5. Since the duration of the workout was less, the momentum had to be more. Here’s what I found after following this routine for 30 days, with Sundays being my off days:
Day 1:
I climb stairs for exactly 15 minutes, do basic stretches and 1 round of pushups. I see that I’m as sweaty as I am after my five brisk-walk rounds in the park. The day definitely becomes more active and I am equally happy, and certainly not tired or exhausted.
Day 10:
I try to go to the park for rounds one day. If you climb stairs every day for 10 days, you are bound to get bored. So I go to the park and the difference can be seen. My earlier jogs were slow and I would be breathing rapidly by the time I reached my last round. But on my 10th day, not only did I take the 8th round swiftly, but my breath seemed to be in control as well. My stamina has undoubtedly increased by this time.
Day 21:
When you buy dresses, there is always that one part of the dress which won’t fit you properly. I saw that after following my 15-minute stair-climb every day, my old dresses seem to be fitting again. Inch loss from below the waist area is in progress. My calf muscles have started feeling tighter and my hips firmer. Within 21 days of following the 15-minute stair-climbing regime, I can see that my lower body is slowly getting into shape. My arms have become firmer than they were and my days are active and not full of lethargy, which was the case after my gym workouts.
Day 30:
It has been a month. With a controlled appetite, 15-minute stair-climb regime everyday, I can confidently vouch for three things:
1. My stomach is in and not bulging out. My waist has definitely lost an inch or so.
2. My arms are stronger and don’t feel tired even when I am washing my hair or taking my shopping bags around with me in the mall.
3. My legs are toning and look great when I am wearing heels.
The plus point is, I achieved all the three things by being home, not having to show your sloppy face to strangers right after you get up in the morning to work out in your pjs!
By: Deeksha Chaddha

The stair climber machine

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