Step classes come in a variety of forms, which means you can choose the class that meets your fitness goals. Even within the same class, different participants may use different levels of intensity, allowing them to further customize their routine. While this means a step class can work for a wide variety of fitness levels, it also means that there's no single number of calories all people will burn during a step class. Age, weight and overall health can all affect the number of calories you'll burn.
Vigorous exercise burns more calories than low-intensity or moderate exercise. The repeated stepping of step aerobics tends to challenge your muscles, making it easier to get an intense workout, but your results will still vary with your speed and with the specific class you take. One way to measure exertion is to look at your breathing. If you can easily carry on a conversation, you're likely getting a low-intensity workout. But if you have to struggle to get out a few words, your aerobics routine is an intense one that will burn more calories.
Your weight can affect how many calories you burn in two ways. First, larger bodies require more calories to perform basic metabolic functions and to move during exercise. Equally important is the fact that, if you have more muscle mass, your body needs more calories to sustain your muscle, and will therefore burn more calories during exercise. If you're building muscle during your aerobic routine, you'll begin to burn more calories over time.
If your step aerobics class keeps you moving steadily, you'll burn more calories. But if you take frequent breaks, focus on stretching or engage in other low-intensity activities, you'll burn fewer calories. Your age and sex can also play a role. Women tend to have more fat and less muscle than men, which means they typically burn fewer calories. As you age, your body loses muscle mass and you tend to burn fewer calories during exercise.
You can get a rough estimate of the calories you'll burn by plugging your weight and age into a calorie calculator. Harvard Health Publications estimates that a 125-pound person will burn around 315 calories in 45 minutes of low-impact step aerobics. A 185-pound person, by contrast, will burn around 467 calories. If you step up your intensity and begin doing high-impact step aerobics, you can expect to burn 450 calories in 45 minutes at 125 pounds and 666 calories at 185 pounds.
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