The Benefits of Step Aerobics

The Benefits of Step Aerobics
The Benefits of Step Aerobics (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/GettyImages)

Step aerobics was introduced in the 1980s as part of the aerobics craze, and it's still popular in gyms and health clubs today. Stepping up, over and around an adjustable step to the beat of high-energy music gives you an excellent total-body workout good for burning fat, building muscle and improving your fitness. Step aerobics can be an intense workout, however, so consult your doctor for a check-up before you start.

Features of Step Aerobics

A step aerobics session typically consists of sets of choreographed movements performed on a raised platform. The movements are accompanied by music and are designed to work the lower body, upper body, core and cardiovascular system.

In gyms and health clubs, plastic aerobic steps with nonslip surfaces on the top are used. You can adjust the height of these to make the workout easier or more challenging. You can do step aerobics at home by creating your own routine or following a video, or as part of a class at your health club.

Many classes will also employ resistance training using weights or resistance bands. Depending on the class, you might use other equipment such as balls, kettlebells or even jump ropes.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Exercising with an aerobic step provides several fitness benefits that can help you in other sports and in daily life. The stepping and jumping movements in a step aerobics class challenge your heart and lungs. Your heart rate rises, your breathing becomes more rapid and you begin to sweat. This type of activity challenges your cardiovascular system and makes it stronger over time. Regular cardio exercise such as step aerobics can help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.

Fat Loss

Step aerobics can burn a lot of calories, especially if it's done vigorously. Doing step aerobics for 30 minutes can burn between 210 to 444 calories, depending on your weight and the intensity of the workout. Burning calories through exercise, when combined with a reduced-calorie diet, can help you lose body fat and maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight can prevent illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Muscle and Bone Health

Step aerobics is a weight-bearing activity. Your body has to work against gravity, which puts stress on muscles and bones. This stress causes them to grow stronger. Stepping up and over the raised platform repeatedly is challenging for the leg muscles. Saying balanced while doing single-leg moves strengthens the core. Classes will also include moves to tone and strengthen the upper body. Having more lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism and makes it easier to control your weight.

Other Benefits

Working with the step can be challenging at first, especially if your balance and coordination aren't strong. But regular step aerobics will actually help you improve your balance, agility and coordination, which is important for sports and as you age.

It's proven that cardio exercise improves your mood and can fight depression and anxiety. Step aerobics is typically a group class, which provides social engagement. The music and pace of the class are uplifting, which can lift your mood.

Step aerobics is adaptable to all ages and fitness levels. Those just starting out can use a low step and do slow and controlled movements with no weights. Seasoned athletes can up the vertical challenge and add advanced steps and weights to really test their mettle.

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