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Don't Avoid Climbing Those Stairs



Climbing stairs regularly can give a really good workout. 

I have two flights of stairs in my current home, making it impossible to avoid climbing those stairs several times a day. But that is not such a bad thing. Stair climbing provides a very good workout. I kept a count and I had climbed at least one of those two flights five times before 10 o’clock this morning. 

Stairway to heaven or a daily toil?

Stair climbing is a unique form of exercise that can have a powerful and positive impact on your health over time.

Like regular walking, climbing the stairs every day is key to improved health.

For example...

  • If you can climb eight flights of stairs a day, this will lower average early mortality risk considerably.
  • Seven minutes of stair climbing a day can halve the risk of heart attack over ten years.
  • Just two minutes extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop average middle age weight gain.

Stair climbing delivers these benefits by improving your cardiovascular fitness, being officially classed as a 'vigorous' form of exercise to burn even more calories per minute than jogging does. 

How many calories do you burn walking up stairs?

A 2013 article in The Wall Street Journal quotes a professor from the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee who said:

"Climbing a flight of stairs—roughly ten steps—is equivalent to taking thirty eight steps on level ground."

That means at two thousand steps to a mile, you would need to climb some fifty flights to equal a mile. You can count on burning roughly a calorie and a half for every flight. You also burn calories going down, where every stair descended burns about half a calorie per flight. Remember that the heavier you are, the more calories you burn. 

Descending the stairs is not without benefits either - find out more about eccentric exercise!

But it is not just about burning calories

  • Regular stair climbing can lower resting heart rates and improves balance.
  • Each trip up and down the stairs helps shape and tone different muscles in your legs and lower body.
  • Football trainers frequently get their players to run up flight after flight of stadium steps to get in shape while other competitive athletes put gymnasium stairwells to similar use.
  • Stay at home moms who have to take care of a two or three story home (along with their young families) are said to be one reason why American women outlive their husbands by an average of more than five years.

All good reasons to take the stairs when you can instead of hopping onto the elevator.

When I was working in publishing in Cape Town a few years ago, I was in an office three flights up. I was the oldest employee and yet I was the only one who ever took the stairs instead of the elevator. The others missed a daily opportunity to improve their health – as well as saving energy in starting up that elevator for every journey.

I just wish I could be as sure footed as my cat is when she tears up and down the stairs!



 Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Improves Stair Climbing Capacity in People with Knee Osteoarthritis - PubMed (nih.gov)

Stair climbing activity and vascular function in patients with hypertension - PubMed (nih.gov)

Daily stair climbing is associated with decreased risk for the metabolic syndrome - PubMed (nih.gov)