What is Step Aerobics? Carla Mangrum on Physical Fitness
Step aerobics is a form of aerobic activity that was developed in the late 80's and has become the predominant aerobic class in many areas. This exercise involves the same principles as other aerobic activities but adds an additional cardio element in that extra energy is expended when stepping on and off the riser(or step).
Step aerobics is distinguished from other forms of aerobic exercise by it's use of an elevated platform (the step). The height can be tailored to individual needs by inserting risers under the step.
While the aim of aerobics is to increase the body's consumption of oxygen, step aerobics builds on that by offering a more intense workout. The platform,or step, provides this extra boost by incorporating the action of stepping onto the platform to intensify the workout. The other benefit is that it's low impact, and doesn't stress the joints as much as running, or jogging. The action of stepping onto the platform doesn't shock the joints, and generally doesn't require a great deal of coordination or athleticism.
Beginners to step aerobics can start with very simple exercises like stepping onto the platform and stepping back down again. Step aerobics is very welcoming for newbies, requiring far less complicated moves than other forms of exercise. However, as you progress there are many things that can be done to intensify the workout. Your steps can be made more rapidly, and the platform can be raised, arm movements can be incorporated to further increase blood flow and oxygen consumption. The steps themselves are adjustable so as your fitness level increases,the step aerobics platform can grow as well.
For step aerobics to be effective, it's important to workout frequently and maintain a certain level of intensity. It's critical for the participant to work at his or her maximum heart rate for at lases part of the hour, as the most fat is burned when working in this range. It's generally believed that working in ones aerobic zone for 20 minutes will cause the body to burn fat more than carbohydrates. The metabolism speeds up and remains elevated for hours after the exercise is concluded.
Step aerobics benefits the body as well. Combinations of steps work major muscle groups and result in shaping and toning of many problem areas. Many classes also include some weight work , which helps to tone the arms and upper body. Cool downs involve stretching and abdominal work.
A step class can work for individuals in every range of fitness. Intensity levels can be adapted to fit the skill level of every participant, and everyone can work at his or her own pace and level of comfort.
To be effective, step aerobics should be combined with a reduced calorie diet. So...what are you waiting for...Get Up And Move!!!
Carla Mangrum is a Physical Fitness Expert and Professional Aerobics Instructor.
If you would like to comment on this story, we'd love to hear from you. Your name will be listed with your comment when it's posted in the Letters to the editor.