Step Aerobics: An Effective Way to Improve Cholesterol Profiles

Step aerobics is known to be a great cardiovascular exercise that burns calories. But did you also know that it can boost your good levels of cholesterol? In a study published in Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, step aerobic exercise was found to significantly raise HDL-cholesterol levels of study participants. This eight-week small study tracked 45 female Turkish college students who were sedentary. The women were divided into two groups: 15 participated in step aerobics and 15 performed traditional aerobics. Three 45-minute sessions were done each week. The study’s remaining 15 women remained sedentary. The investigators at Baskent University, Ankara concluded that both active groups showed significant reductions in cholesterol levels when compared with the sedentary women. Exercise that is done regularly and with frequency tends to increase HDL levels more consistently. From a health perspective, the more intense the exercise, the better. This can be a challenging exercise and is great for people who like to work out in a group. Step aerobics also develops the hamstrings and gluteals, the “buttocks” muscles, as well as the quadriceps.

Warm up by doing 10 minutes of light jogging and stretching. Also, do range-of motion exercises for your trunk, low-back, hips and quadriceps.

Start from a standing stance on a step-bench, shifting your weight to the heel of your left foot. The right leg should be held behind the body and free.

Maintain your weight on your left foot while lowering the body slowly until the toes touch the ground.
Then, return to your starting position by straightening and driving down the left leg with the heel of the left foot.

Start with 15-20 minutes of exercise every other day. You can gradually increase the time to 60 minutes per day as your heart and muscles become accustomed to the exercise.
After your aerobic workout, cool down by doing low-intensity movement or walking for 5-10 min and stretching the same muscles as you did before.

You should always lean forward at the ankles, and not the waist, to avoid putting stress on your lower spine. Keep your trunk in a straight, upright position throughout the movement.
When you begin the program, your platform shouldn’t be higher than 4″. You can gradually increase the height of your steps to 10″‘ as you progress and become more conditioned. To avoid knee injury, no step height should push your knee beyond a 90-degree arc.

If you experience knee discomfort when using a step-bench, lower the step height or consult a sports medicine physician. You can also consider other aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, or elliptical.

The moves in step aerobics can be simple or very advanced. These moves may intimidate you if you’re new to aerobics.
Routines are built around 32-beat segments, which are then divided into moves of four-, eight or sixteen counts. A 32-beat segment, for example, can consist of eight counts basic right, eight count right V-steps and eight count turn step.

Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is very important. As you exercise, your concentration will improve and so will your general feeling of your body.

HDL levels are minimally increased in women with abnormal menstrual cycles, so be on the lookout.

If you don’t combine resistance training with aerobic exercise, it can actually reduce HDL cholesterol.