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Why Step Aerobics Are the Perfect Winter Cardio Routine

Winter is here, and cold weather, snow storms, and icy roads are here to stay for the next few months. These weather conditions might make your daily walk or run more hazardous than usual. Winter weather advisories can interrupt your gym or fitness class routine. Since cardio is an important component of cardiovascular health, finding safe ways to get your heart rate up is essential for continued health, especially during cold and flu season.

I found a solution for those icy days when I can’t go for a walk outside or make it to an exercise class. Enter the aerobic step. My first introduction to this dynamic piece of exercise equipment was when I was a little girl, following Jane Fonda routines with my mom. The aerobics step, accompanied by Jane Fonda’s signature dance moves, inspired a love of dance and fitness for many women and their daughters in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Putting on my leotard, tights, and scrunchie is one of my first and fondest memories of exercise.

While step aerobics was mainstream in the ‘80s and ‘90s, its popularity waned in the 2000s. But step aerobics and ‘80s fitness fashion are starting to make their way back into mainstream pop culture. Rose Byrne currently stars as a rising aerobics instructor in Physical on Apple TV+. Stranger Things has reawakened fascination for all things 80s. In 2020, American Girl Doll Company added Courtney Moore, a historical doll from 1986, who wears her aerobics gear in style. The retro Reebok Classic Leather Sneakers, which were worn by many fitness enthusiasts in the 1980s, have made their way back into fashion. Celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Reese Witherspoon, and Sydney Sweeney have been spotted wearing them.

What are some key benefits of aerobics steps?

Aside from the fun and creativity the aerobic step can bring to your workout routine, the step can also support your health goals. Jeremiah Daniel, a level-four personal trainer, experienced hiking guide, and co-founder of Moonlight Reviews, offers insights about the health benefits of using a step for cardio workouts.

1. Intensity

Daniel says, “One of the key benefits of using an aerobics step for cardio is its ability to increase the intensity of a workout. By raising the body off the ground and forcing the muscles to work harder to stabilize, an aerobics step can elevate the heart rate and boost calorie burn. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that step aerobics can burn up to 800 calories per hour, making it an excellent choice for […] cardiovascular endurance.”

2. Easy modifications

Daniel also mentioned that the step has value for people with injuries or who need modifications to their cardio routines. He adds that, “[A]n aerobics step is not just for high-impact workouts. It can also be used for low-impact exercises, making it a suitable option for those with joint issues or injuries. By modifying the height and intensity of the step, fitness enthusiasts can customize their workouts to suit their individual needs and abilities.”

An aerobic step can be modified for your level of cardio. Many steps have adjustable heights to accommodate users’ comfort and degree of difficulty they’re aiming for. I adjusted my step as needed over the last several months.

3. Affordability

The aerobic step has other advantages as well. It is an affordable, safer alternative for people who want to keep their cardio routines fresh, when going outside is not an option. They are best used on carpeted or similarly stable ground surfaces. Many aerobic steps are priced in the $25 range, and can fit comfortably in small settings.

4. Creativity

The aerobic step can also add some creativity to your usual workout routines. In addition to using the step for movements, I’ve also used it to add a challenge to planks and pushups.

Last year, the Obé Fitness platform introduced Step classes as part of their offerings. Subscribers can replicate similar moves to Jane Fonda’s, with added intervals of stretching and strengthening in 10, 28, or 50 minute classes. I was initially hesitant to purchase the step last winter, but the inclement weather put a damper on cardio activities. I bought an aerobic step and started taking classes on Obé. I was immediately taken with the enthusiasm of the instructors, versatility of the movements, and the callbacks to the Jane Fonda moves I loved as a kid.

More step aerobics workouts have been popping up recently on YouTube, so I can use my step outside of Obé’s class options as well. Phil Weeden’s Xtreme Hip-Hop step class uses music, dance, and an aerobic step to add elements of style, fun, creativity, and challenge to cardio. I used my aerobics step to level up ClassFitsugar’s “Totally Awesome Aerobics Workout.”

Start stepping!

You can step your way to better cardiovascular health this winter. When the roads are too slick for your daily run, put on your leotard, queue up a totally tubular ‘80s playlist on Spotify, and grab your aerobic step!

About the author

Danielle Cappolla

Danielle Cappolla is a freelance writer and editor from New Jersey. She has a B.A. in English from Fordham University and an M.S. in Education and Special Education from Touro College. Danielle enjoys writing content for health, wellness, fitness, beauty, personal finance, travel, and entertainment niches.