Step aerobics, which modify basic floor aerobics for use on an elevated riser, took off in the 1980s. The extra intensity of stepping or jumping on and off the riser translates into extra calories burned.
Estimated Calorie Burn
If you weigh 185 lbs. you'll burn 622 calories in an hour of low-impact step aerobics, according to Harvard Health Publications. High-impact step aerobics burn an estimated 888 calories per hour.
The American Council on Exercise recommends that beginners should start with a 4 to 6 inch high step. As you build strength and technique you can use a higher step, which burns more calories. But no matter how fit you are, the step should never be so high that stepping on it bends your knee sharper than 90 degrees.
Other Ways to Increase Intensity
If you have weak bones or damaged joints that prevent you from tolerating high-impact activity, restrict yourself to stepping on and off the step -- a low-impact workout. But if you have healthy bones and joints, you can add extra intensity, which means more calories burned, by propelling yourself up off the step in a small leap at every opportunity. Adding arm movements to the steps also increases workout intensity and thus the calorie burn.