Stair steppers are effective for developing fitness.
Stair-stepper machines provide aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise of any kind provides many health benefits, depending on the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. Generally, exercising regularly on a stair-stepper machine can develop cardiovascular fitness, enhance lower-body muscles and burn calories.
Stair-stepper machines provide a low-impact workout, which means your body won't experience the same jarring shocks as it might during a vigorous aerobics dance class or while jogging. On the other hand, stair-climbing motions can be strenuous on the knees, especially for beginners, according to Harvard Health Publications. If you're not sure whether stair-climbing activities are suitable for you, discuss your options with your doctor.
Stair steppers target muscles in the buttocks, hips, calves and thighs. The exact effect stair-stepper machines will have on these muscle groups depends on the intensity of your workouts and many other factors, such as your diet and other physical activities. Generally, you can expect that frequently exercising any muscle group will strengthen those muscles and develop muscle tone. But contrary to popular myth, stair-climbing activities will not build bulky leg muscles, according to Martica Heaner, writing for MSN Healthy Living. She points out that the only way to increase muscle size significantly is to engage in intense, progressive strength training.
Using a stair-stepper machine burns a significant number of calories. For example, a 125-pound person exercising for 30 minutes on a stair-stepper machine might burn 180 calories, according to Harvard Health Publications. People who weigh more will burn more calories, and people who weigh less will burn fewer.
Failing to follow the instructions for the stair-stepper machine might limit your health benefits. For example, holding yourself upright by grasping the handles might make the exercise less physically intense, decreasing the physical conditioning benefits. Choosing a setting that isn't challenging enough for you also might hinder your fitness progress. If you're not sure how to use a stair-stepper machine, consult a certified fitness instructor, who can help you choose the right setting, intensity and duration to achieve your fitness goals.