Have you ever emulated fictional boxer Rocky Balboa’s run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the movie “Rocky?” Rocky celebrated when he got to the top of the steps because running up those steps was a major accomplishment. It was also a sign that he had dramatically improved his fitness.
Many young men, including the author of this piece, have emulated Rocky. I think it’s safe to say that running up steps is very difficult, but is also very rewarding in regards to fitness. And if you run up lots of large staircases often, which this author has not done, you can really lose a lot of weight.
Advantages of Step Machines
In fact, running up steps is one of the best weight-loss exercises there is, according to this “Calories Burned Per Hour list of 175 exercises. It ranks fifth. A 190-pound person will burn 1,294 calories in 60 minutes of running up steps. That’s nearly one-third of a pound because you lose one pound when you burn 3,500 calories. Walking up steps is also a good exercise. The same individual will burn 690 calories in 60 minutes of walking up steps.
But do you really want to run up steps? Practically, you have more of an opportunity depending on where you work to run up the steps of an office building. But people might get in the way. And they might look at you funny. And you’ll soon be the butt of jokes if people know you’re doing it regularly.
Fortunately, there is a way to emulate Rocky in terms of fitness and weight loss benefits. The solution is often at your local gym. The solution is sometimes called a stair-climbing machine, or a step machine. The StairMaster is the best known of these machines. They’re quite technologically sophisticated and expensive. This StairMaster lets you adjust your stepping speed from 24 to 162 steps per minute and lets you control how much resistance you want the machine to give you. It also tells you how many “floors” you have climbed as well as your heart rate.
Many gyms have a variety of step machines. How will they help you? Frankly, they can do quite a bit for your leg strength as well as your cardiovascular fitness. Repeatedly pushing pedals is the equivalent of weight-lifting with your legs. Doing it continuously is a tremendous aerobic exercise just like running or bicycling is. You can also improve the strength of your arms if the step machine includes handles to push, as many step machines do.
The kinds of step machines that are available include what is known in the exercise industry as stepmills. Stepmills are short for step-treadmill machines. Simply put, they are a combination of stair-climbing machines and treadmills. There are also different kinds of stepmills. The article “Stair Exercises for Fitness & Weight Loss” mentions that one kind of stepmill, a stair-treadmill ergometer measures how much weight you are losing and how fast you are moving while you are exercising. The “Calories Burned Per Hour” list reports that a 190-pound person will burn 518 calories in 60 minutes while exercising on a stair-treadmill ergometer.
How much weight can you lose, in general, if you exercise on a step, or stair, machine? Fitness Magazine has a calories burned calculator. Here are some numbers:
- A 150-pound person will burn 310 calories after 30 minutes of exercise.
- A 180-pound person will burn 372 calories after 30 minutes of exercise.
- A 120-pound person will burn 496 calories after 60 minutes of exercise.
- A 200-pound person will burn 827 calories after 60 minutes of exercise.
The bottom line is that exercising on a stair-climbing machine doesn’t burn as many calories as running up steps, but it is a much safer and convenient exercise that you can do at the gym every day.