A stair climber is an exercise machine intended to simulate the action of climbing flights of stairs. While flights of stairs provide excellent cardiovascular and aerobic exercise, not everyone has access to a suitable set of stairs. The stair climber, like other exercise machines, is convenient because it can be used in the home or gym as part of an exercise routine. It can also be used indoors when the weather does not permit exercise in an outdoor setting. This machine provides a relatively low-impact exercise option when compared to running or jogging, but is more strenuous than the elliptical trainer machine.
The first stair climber machine appeared in 1983 with the well-known Stairmaster model. A stair climber has two pedals on which the user stands upright and handlebars for additional support and balance. It is important not to place too much weight on the handlebars, as doing so compromises the effectiveness of the workout and may cause wrist injuries. Proper knee positioning is also essential to avoid injury when exercising with this machine.
A stair climber allows the user to modify the workout by controlling speed and resistance. There are many different types of machines available. The less expensive versions are cylinder driven. The cylinders use air or hydraulic fluid to provide resistance. With a cylinder driven machine, the resistance can be adjusted by turning a knob. More expensive models are computer controlled and may include such features as preset exercise programs and a customized workout analysis, including heart rate and calories burned.
Exercising with a stair climber not only provides cardiovascular training, but also helps develop muscles in the calves, thighs and buttocks. Using ankle weights while working out increases its muscle toning effects. As you become more comfortable with the stair climber and more confident of your balance, you can burn more calories by completely letting go of the handlebars during your exercise.