Did you know that frequently using stairs could save your life? Studies show that climbing only eight flights of stairs a day can improve your health and decrease your risk of early death by as much as a third. So popular has this kind of exercise become that you can even find free smartphone programs to count the number of steps you climb and record how many calories are burned off. Builds bone and muscle strength
Stair climbing is basically a more strenuous form of walking. Because you have to pull against gravity, it requires greater effort, so you get more of a workout. The exercise is great for your body, increasing your bone density, strength and muscle tone – so the odds of developing osteoporosis is considerably reduced. Helps your heart
By increasing your heart rate, stair climbing helps prevent blocked arteries and high blood pressure. This boost to your cardiovascular system lowers the risk of succumbing to serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aids weight loss
This astonishingly vigorous form of exercise actually burns more calories per minute than running. And the good news is the heavier you are, the more calories you will expend. Even once you go upstairs in a normal pace, you are going to use at least twice the amount of energy than if you were walking on level ground – so you may soon find your waistline shrinking if you use the stairs regularly. Relieves stress
Going up stairs will also improve your mental condition, as the physical exertion releases pain-killing endorphins – the feel-good hormones that release tension and give your spirits a lift. The regular exercise will raise your energy levels, making you generally feel much better about the world.
- Fits in with active lifestyles You can start with just one or two flights if you like, and increase slowly. Even if you’re a busy commuter, you may use staircases in public places like train stations, office buildings and multi-storey car parks. Needless to say, unless you live in a bungalow or ground-floor flat you will also be able to practise in the comfort of your own home.
You do not have to be a fresh-air fiend to enjoy climbing stairs. No special skills, sporting training or ability is required – and you won’t have to talk about a sweaty changing room with strangers.
Because stair climbing is relatively simple to build into your life, you should be able to incorporate it into your routine without too many problems. Regular exercise can make a real difference to people’s long-term health, so finding an activity that you are able to sustain over the years will be invaluable for your exercise levels. Costs nothing
One of the best things about stair climbing is that it is completely free. No sports club fees or gym membership, no equipment or special clothing to buy… it is just you, as well as many steps as you feel able to handle.
So, which types of stairs are best for climbing? Any long flight of stairs provides the chance for a good workout, even though some are better than others. Wooden stairs are more comfortable than concrete or metal ones as their treads provide more shock absorption, and carpeted staircases are better still. Curved stairs are just like straight ones for providing exercise. Even attic stairs and space saver staircases have their applications, provided that you hold on to the handrail and don’t try to go too fast. If you have to use an escalator, walk all the way up it. As the steps are deeper than those in an average staircase, it will still do you good.
Aim for between three and five stair-climbing sessions every week to get the most out of your new regime. If you’re not used to exercise you should start gradually, perhaps just climbing for five or 10 minutes at first. You may work up to thirty minutes or an hour , if you’re feeling confident.
Can anyone exercise this way?
People with hip or knee problems aren’t advised to climb stairs as the stepping action can aggravate their condition. This is particularly true when going down, as the joints come under additional strain. Anyone concerned about their health should have a word with their doctor before going ahead.