Did you know that frequently using stairs could save your life? Studies indicate 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 form of exercise become that you could even get free smartphone apps to count the number of steps you climb and record how many calories have been burned off.
Here are six ways that climbing stairs on a regular basis can benefit you:
- Builds muscle and bone strength
Stair climbing is basically a more strenuous form of walking. Because you must pull against gravity, it requires greater effort, so you get more of a workout. The exercise is wonderful for your body, increasing your bone density, strength and muscle tone – so the odds of developing osteoporosis is considerably reduced. Helps your heart
By raising 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 severe conditions such as 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 that the heavier you are, the more calories you will expend. Even when you go upstairs in a normal pace, you’ll use at least twice the amount of energy than if you were walking briskly on level ground – so you will soon find your waistline shrinking if you use the stairs regularly.
- Relieves stress
Going up stairs will also improve your mental state, 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, which makes you generally feel much better about the world. Fits in with busy lifestyles
Unlike going to the gym, climbing stairs is convenient, flexible and flexible. You can begin with just a couple of flights if you prefer, and increase slowly. Even if you’re a busy commuter, you can use staircases in public areas such as train stations, office buildings and multi-storey car parks. Needless to say, if you don’t live in a bungalow or ground-floor apartment 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 need to talk about a sweaty changing room with strangers.
Because stair climbing is relatively simple to build into your life, you should have the ability to integrate 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 fitness levels. Costs nothing
One of the best things about stair climbing is that it is free. No sports club fees or gym membership, no equipment or special clothing to purchase… it’s just you, and as many steps as you can tackle.
So, which types of stairs are best for climbing? Any long flight of stairs provides the opportunity for a good workout, although 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 loft stairs and space saver staircases have their applications, as long as you hold on to the handrail and do not try to go too fast. If you need to use an escalator, walk all the way up it. As the steps are deeper than those in an average staircase, it’ll still do you good.
Aim for between three and five stair-climbing sessions a week to get the most from your new regime. If you’re not used to exercise you should start slowly, perhaps just climbing for five or 10 minutes at first. You may work up to thirty minutes or even an hour eventually, if you’re feeling confident.
Can anybody exercise this way?
People with knee or hip problems aren’t advised to climb stairs unnecessarily as the stepping action can aggravate their condition. This is especially true when going down, as the joints come under additional strain. Anyone concerned about their health should have a word with their physician before going ahead.