Steppers and Stair Climbers

Steppers and stair climbers are fairly recent cardiovascular exercise devices that are popular in both commercial health clubs and home gyms. Their concept must have come from coaches who condition athletes by having them run stadium stairs and bleachers. Anyone who has run up flights of stairs can appreciate the workout.

Climbers are appropriate for beginners and well conditioned trainees alike, because the exerciser controls exertion by either speeding up or slowing down or adjusting the amount of resistance.

Some climbers are cylinder-driven or wind-driven and/or computer controlled. Some are fold-away models. Many have user-select programs that simulate challenges such as hill and mountain climbing. High-end models also calculate calories burned, heart rate, total steps, or elevation climbed. Prices vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Calories burned using climbers varies depending on the duration and intensity of a workout. Generally, aerobic training at a low to moderate intensity for 30 minutes burns about 250 calories. In addition to cardiovascular fitness, stair climbing strengthens calf, thigh and buttocks muscles. It is a lower-impact workout than jogging or running, and since it is done indoors, foul weather is never a factor when it's time to workout.

Good posture and stance are important when using a climber. A common error is using your arms to support your body weight. The handlebars on climbers are for balance only. Bearing down on the handles to support your weight increases the likelihood of wrist and elbow strain, and decreases the overall intensity or your workout.

The correct posture is to stand up straight with your upper-body in the same vertical plane as your hips and legs. Leaning over while training puts undo strain on your lower back.

As always, I recommend trying out exercise equipment before purchasing it. Does it feel right and is it something you think you will regularly use? What is the manufacturer or seller's return policy? Is there a warranty and for how long?

If you are satisfied with the answers to these questions, a stepper may be right for you.

Return from Steppers and Stair Climbers to the Home Gym Equipment page.

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