Are Steppers Good for Knees?

For most people, steppers strengthen knees.
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Steppers build muscles in your legs and glutes, burn calories and give you a cardiovascular workout. They are considered a low-impact alternative to running, which makes them attractive to people dealing with leg injuries. Unless you have arthritis or other medical conditions affecting your knees there should be no reason why a stepper should be harmful, providing you use good technique and proceed with caution.


Steppers simulate the motion of climbing stairs. They have two platforms, or pedals, where you place each foot. As you shift your body weight onto one foot to push the pedal down, the other pedal rises. This gives the sensation of climbing stairs, even though your feet don’t have to be lifted; they can remain on the pedal at all times, or with just the heels rising and falling. Most machines allow you to vary the level of resistance to push the pedal down.

Stepper Benefits

The climbing motion of the stepper strengthens your core muscles as you stabilize your body. Using large muscle groups in a rhythmic fashion will help you lose fat and increase your general fitness. Stepping for 30 minutes will burn 180 calories for a 125-pound person and 266 calories for a 185-pound person. It will help lower high blood pressure, strengthen your heart and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Knee Problems

The knee is the largest joint in the human body which makes it prone to injuries to the soft tissues that surround the joint. Blows to the knee, or twisting the knee can cause pain and injury in the soft tissue and the kneecap. If you have a knee injury it is best to lower the resistance of the stepper. You will still build strength in the muscles supporting the joint. Protect your knees by not allowing your bent knees to go forward past your toes as that increases pressure on the kneecap.


Keeping proper form is important when using the stepper. Stand straight with your back straight and do not use the guide-rails for support. If you have arthritis in the knees or degenerative joint problems, a stepper may not be the best form of exercise and activities like water aerobics might serve you better. If you experience pain in one or both knees during a workout you should stop using the machine. If pain persists you should consult a medical professional.

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