Step aerobics is a low-impact workout you can easily modify to create more intense high-impact workouts that improve your reactive power and burn more calories. Depending on how much impact your joints can take, adding high-impact moves using your step box can help you meet your fitness goals faster. Performing a low-impact aerobics workout burns roughly 22 percent fewer calories than high-impact aerobics, according to MayoClinic.com.
Step workouts include a low platform, anywhere from calf to thigh height, onto which you step, then step off. Stepping up requires more muscular effort since you are lifting your body's weight with one leg. Alternating steps, you work your calves, hamstrings, thighs, hips, butt and quadriceps. You step onto and off of the platform from a variety of angles to maximize your muscle use and decrease boredom.
Impact is a term health and fitness professional use to refer to how much stress your body takes when you walk, run, jump or perform other exercise. If you keep both feet on the floor or piece of equipment at all times, the exercise is non-impact. Examples include riding a bike, using an elliptical, swimming, skating or gliding. Low-impact exercise keeps one foot on a surface at all time, such as walking or performing step aerobics. High-impact exercise causes both feet to leave the ground at once, such as when you run, jump rope, play tennis, volleyball, basketball or perform plyo-jumping.
Just because your step aerobics workouts keep one foot on the floor or your box at all times doesn't mean you aren't stressing your body. The higher the box, the more muscular effort it takes to raise you. Depending on how high you raise your knee to perform the movement, you will create more knee stress. For example, if you use a box that is so high it makes you raise your knee above your hip to step up, you will create considerable stress on your knee as you use it to raise your body's entire weight. If your routine requires you to stand on your toe or toes after you step up, you'll work your calves. Depending on how many reps you perform, this can cause muscle tightness or soreness.
If you can take some high-impact movements during your workouts, consider adding plyo jumps to your routines. Jump onto and off of your step with both feet. Jump forward, backward and side-to-side. Step onto your box, then jump off it and jump back up when you hit the ground. These types of exercises help create reactive power, beneficial for runners and athletes who need down-and-up movements to perform their sports.