Benefits of a worksite or home-based bench stepping intervention for sedentary middle-aged adults – a pilot study



The aim of this study was to investigate the benefits of a low-volume, vigorous intensity bench stepping programme in sedentary middle-aged adults. Thirty-one healthy but sedentary adults (12 men; 55–64 years) took part in the study. Participants accumulated up to 9 min per day of stepping exercise on three days per week over the 4-week experimental period. Parameters of cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition and lower limb muscle strength were measured on three occasions: TS1 (baseline test), TS2 (following a 4-week control period) and TS3 (following the 4-week intervention). Data were analysed using a repeated-measures ANOVA. Adherence to the programme was excellent (96%). Relative to the insignificant changes following the control period, parameters of cardiorespiratory fitness were significantly improved following training. No alterations in body composition or lower limb muscle strength were detected. These results show that less than 30 min per week of bench step exercise, accumulated in short bouts throughout the day, can improve parameters of cardiorespiratory fitness after only 4 weeks in previously sedentary middle-aged adults. Due to its low-cost, time-efficient and discrete aspects, stepping exercise may have important implications for public health initiatives that promote physical activity in a population who commonly report ‘lack of time’ as a barrier to physical activity.