The StairMaster is an exercise machine that has either foot pedals that move up and down or a small staircase that revolves. Both machines simulate walking up stairs. MayoClinic.com considers stair climbing a weight-bearing activity that can help slow bone mineral loss. Using a StairMaster also burns calories.
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The StairMaster is a cardiovascular machine. When you do cardio, you move your body in a repetitive motion for an extended period. This increases your internal body temperature and causes you to burn calories. With that being the case, the main function of the StairMaster is to promote weight loss.
Body size is a major contributor to caloric expenditure on the StairMaster. People who are larger naturally burn more calories than people who are smaller. This is even the case when you are resting. A 150-lb. person, for example, burns about 360 calories in 45 minutes on the StairMaster. A 200-lb. person burns about 480 calories.
Total caloric expenditure on the StairMaster depends on how long you work out. For example, a 160-lb. person burns about 360 calories in 30 minutes and 980 calories in 90 minutes. To effectively lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity.
When you step up and down on the StairMaster, you bend your knee, hip and ankle joints simultaneously. This in turn causes you to recruit multiple muscles, such as the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. By building muscle, you increase your resting metabolic rate and burn calories at a faster pace when you are sitting still. According to the University of Michigan Health System, 1 lb. of added muscle burns an extra 30 to 50 calories daily.
The intensity of your workouts plays a role in the calories you burn on the StairMaster. Interval training, for example, is performed by alternating back and forth from a vigorous to low intensity. Not only does this cause you to burn a high amount of calories while you step, but the effect also lingers after your workout. This is called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. The more intensely you exercise, the greater the effect will be.
Weight loss takes place when you create a caloric deficit. This is achieved by doing cardio and by cutting back on your caloric intake. A reduction of 500 to 1,000 calories a day can lead to 1 to 2 lbs. of weight loss a week, according to the National Institutes of Health. Burning 500 calories a day on the StairMaster will cause you to lose an additional pound a week.
The StairMaster comes equipped with handrails for assistance when you first get onto the machine and for balancing yourself as you exercise. Leaning on the handrails while you step will make your workouts easier and reduce your caloric expenditure.