Friday, 27 November 2009

Stair Steppers & Climbers

Want to take your cardio workout to the max? Get a stair stepper. Want to work those calves and thighs till they burn just right? Buy a climber. Want to strengthen those back muscles with a simple piece of fitness equipment? Same answer. Want to do all that with gear that can easily be stowed in the closet when you're not using it? Ditto.

Some models are nothing more than a pair of foot-sized movable platforms that offer resistance as you press down with the leg. That builds coordination and moderate strength, even for the elderly recovering from surgery. Adjustable models let you increase the resistance to match your level of ability and desired workout.

Many models provide handles that add safety and can provide the ability to work other muscle groups. Isometrics let you build strength in the arms while you work those calves and thighs. Some with movable handles provide a piece of gear that is very close to an elliptical and increases the upper body workout.

But stair steppers or climbers do much more than just build strength or even provide a great cardio workout. Because of the type of movements involved, you're doing good work to improve joint health in half a dozen ways with a stepper.

As you simulate walking up stairs, the muscles around the knees and ankles build up. Tendons and ligaments get strengthened. That increases stability that is important at any age. At the same time, as the bones slide over one another, fluid is encouraged to fill the area. That leads to flexibility and better long term joint health.

Studies show that these types of exercises also help maintain or even increase bone density. As we age, bones can get thinner and more brittle. Moderate, age and fitness-level appropriate exercise helps stave off osteoporosis.

Increased joint stability, greater flexibility and better bone density all combine to lower the odds of falls and offer better protection from injury when they happen. That benefit isn't just for the elderly, either. It can be a big boon to mothers who are close to giving birth and those that have recently. It's valuable for those who have had recent surgery, too.

But stair steppers and climbers are good for anyone, at any level of fitness or in any life circumstance. Because they help develop better posture, they help achieve more confidence and a more attractive appearance. That's beneficial for everyone.

Since even a good basic stair stepper can be purchased for less than $100 that's a terrific set of benefits at a very affordable price. Most in this range are called mini-steppers. By comparison a good treadmill can easily run over $1,000. There are stair steppers that cost as much as $2,500 and they offer increased value, with built-in heart rate monitors, adjustable resistance levels and more. But even the low-end models offer multiple health benefits.

Buy a stair stepper or climber and you'll start to enjoy those benefits right away.

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