Step aerobics is a form of aerobics that is practiced worldwide by millions of people. The reason for its popularity is simple--it offers a great cardio workout without the need for extensive space or equipment. All that is required is a flat surface and an aerobic stepping platform.
While the aim of aerobics is to increase the body's consumption of oxygen, step aerobics builds on that goal by offering a more intense workout. The platform or "step" provides this extra boost by incorporating the action of stepping onto the platform to intensify the workout. The other benefit is that it is low impact, and doesn't stress the joints as much as running or jogging. The action of stepping onto the platform doesn't shock the joints and generally does not require a great deal of coordination or athleticism.
The 'step' in the aerobics could be many things. There are many companies that sell sturdy platforms bundled with exercise videos and lots of other extras. But if you're on a budget any household item can do. A block of wood, a milk crate, or a short stool can all provide that raised platform. Just be sure that it's sturdy and safe or injury from falling or twisting an ankle could be a risk. Investing in a good platform is eventually the best bet, which will limit the chance of injury.
Other equipment needed is simply proper workout attire and a good pair of sneakers. When choosing sneakers, they should be lightweight (since a lot of stepping will be required) and provide good arch support and shock absorption. Even though this exercise is lower impact than running, proper footwear is important.
To start, you can buy a book, watch a video or join the local gym and enroll in a class. Beginners to step aerobics can start with very simple exercises like stepping onto the platform and stepping back down again. This exercise routine is very welcoming to newbies, since it requires far less complicated moves than other forms of exercise. However, as you progress, there are many things that can be done to intensify the workout. The steps can be made more rapidly, and the platform can be raised. Arm movements can be incorporated to further increase blood flow and oxygen consumption. Some steps themselves are adjustable so as a user increases in skill and fitness, the step aerobics platform can grow as well.