Essentially, step aerobics is a form of exercise that utilizes a platform ranging in height from four to ten inches. The platform, or step, is usually made of polyurethane and has a rubber tread. To increase height, steps are stacked one on top on another and nested. Participants combine a series of floor foot patterns with those that require stepping on and off the platform. Step exercises are normally performed with musical accompaniment. The recommended tempo ranges from 125 to 140 beats per minute, depending on the skill levels of the participants.
Step aerobics is a form of aerobic activity that is an extension of floor aerobics. Step was developed in the late 80s, and has become the predominant aerobic class in many areas. This exercise utilizes the same principles, but adds an additional cardio element in that extra energy is expended when stepping on and off the riser.
Aerobic is defined as "in the presence of oxygen." Any exercise that requires the use of the large muscle groups, is both rhythmic, and continuous in nature is considered to be aerobic exercise. In the process, the heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system are conditioned, and begin to work more efficiently. As a result, more oxygen is delivered throughout the body and the heart muscle is strengthened. The more efficiently the heart functions, the less work it has to do to pump blood.
When participating in a step aerobic class, it is essential to wear good, supportive shoes. Cross-trainers are best in that they support the foot but do not have as much tread as running shoes. The shoe should grip the step but not impede movement on the floor. Wear comfortable clothes that do not restrict motion. In any aerobic exercise, it is important to drink plenty of water so as not to dehydrate. Do not exercise for several hours after a meal.
A step class can work for individuals in every range of fitness. Intensity levels can be adapted to fit the skill level of the 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.