Is the Stair Climber a Good Workout Machine?

Treadmill Running
Try the stair climber in your next exercise session. (Image: Gevorg Gevorgyan/iStock/Getty Images)

The stair climber is really nothing more than a small revolving staircase with handrails. Once you turn on the machine, the steps start moving and you continuously walk in place on them for the duration of your workout. If you are looking to get into shape, the stair climber might be just what you're looking for, provided you use it correctly.

Identification

Steps on the stair climber constitute cardiovascular exercise. Burning calories on the stair climber is good for weight loss, but you have to spend some time to achieve results. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity five days a week for weight loss. The closer you get to this guideline, the more results you will see. From a caloric standpoint, a 180-lb. person can burn up to 735 calories in 60 minutes on the stair climber.

Aerobic Capacity

Regular use of the stair climber improves your aerobic capacity. This gives you the ability to exercise for longer periods, and with more intensity, without becoming winded. The American Council on Exercise says high-intensity interval training will boost your aerobic capacity even more. This is performed by alternating the intensity of your activity during workouts. An elevated aerobic capacity comes in handy with daily situations, such as walking to the top floor of a building to attend a meeting.

Impact

Working out on a stair climber is low-impact but also weight-bearing. Weight-bearing activities strengthen your bones and can help prevent osteoporosis, especially in women, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Muscle Recruitment

The main muscles of the lower body are the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. All these muscles work constantly when you step on the stair climber. This not only improves your tone but also helps boost your resting metabolism. If you add 1 lb. of muscle to your frame, you will burn an additional 30 to 50 calories a day, according to the University of Michigan Health System. To increase the emphasis on your muscles, take your steps two at a time.

Disease Risk Reduction

The benefits of physical activity, including stair climbing, include reduced risk of diabetes, increased good cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. To keep your health, the ACSM recommends doing 30 minutes of "moderately intense cardio" five days a week.

Considerations

Any time you use a workout machine, exercise with proper form to get the best results from your workouts. When using the stair climber, do not take the weight off your legs by leaning on the handrails. Apply only light pressure to balance yourself. Keep your shoulders back and look straight ahead.

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