The Stairmaster

Many view the Stairmaster in the same light as Wham, parachute pants and break-dancing, relics of the 80’s that are best left as memories.  While it is true that parachute pants shouldn’t be resurrected, the Stairmaster should still be considered an exercise that stands the test of time and technology.  The problem is, everyone in the gym wants something 21st century, with flashing numbers and heart-rate measurements, and the fancy and popular elliptical trainers fit the bill.

But is newer better?  One factor behind the popularity of elliptical trainers is their notoriously generous calorie count.  But hold on, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association or JAMA, compared the calories burned during 3 different intensities on the treadmill, elliptical/cross-country ski machine and Stairmaster.  After an hour of exercise at the highest intensity, subjects used the most calories on the treadmill, about 850 calories per hour.  Second place?  The stair-climber was the runner-up with a total of 700 calories per hour.

Doubt it?  Use the sweat test-try 30-min on the Stairmaster versus 30-min on the elliptical.  I’ll bet you a Sheena Easton Greatest Hits CD that you’ll sweat a lot more on the Stairmaster.

Other interesting questions have been raised about the ellipticals’ effectiveness and safety.  One such research study found that while elliptical trainers are non-impact they could increase the stress to the kneecap when compared to treadmill walking.

Research has also validated the cross-training effectiveness of the Stairmaster as a study found that those who used a Stairmaster to prepare for a running test performed comparably to those that used a treadmill to train for the same test.

So if you’re looking for a way to a great, efficient workout or want to effectively cross-train during injury, the Stairmaster may be superior to all the other gym options.  So put your best mix tape in your Walkman and sweat away.

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Lisa Giannone

Interested in virtual advice or a virtual visit? Lisa Giannone and the staff at Active Care are experts in movement, health and fitness. Our services extend nationally and internationally, well beyond the reach of our physical location. Active Care physical therapists and exercise specialists are available and ready to help. Please contact [email protected] with all questions concerning:

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