As the saying goes, there is no elevator to success, but, especially in the current times of social distancing, when it has never been more important to minimise the time and distance you spend away from your home; you might not have realised just how much taking the stairs can actually do for you.
Stair climbing is an excellent fat burning workout. 1 flight (10 steps), completed both ways, burns around 5 calories. Studies have even suggested that you can burn upto 1000 calories a hour when stair climbing (if carried out vigorously).
When stair climbing your body has to resist gravity and move in a vertical pattern. This makes it a very demanding form of exercise for the lower body. Stair climbing is particularly beneficial for toning the muscles in the calves, thighs and glutes. The climbing element of taking the stairs, also adds an element of stability and balance to the workout; further increasing not only the demands on the lower body, but also working the muscles of the lower back, core, and abdomen.
Due to the high demands of stair climbing, it can be used as an excellent form of cross training, or even as an alternative for runners or and cyclists. Stairs have been found to be a great way to improve power, strength and endurance in the quads and glutes, both of which are major muscle groups for runners and cyclists alike. Equally, as stair climbing creates a high aerobic demand on the heart and lungs, it can also be a great way to improve your VO2 Max. This means that, when the races do return, you could be able to race harder for longer.
Taking to the stairs doesn’t have to mean hardcore, intense, cardio training though. Due to stairs being readily accessible in most homes or apartment buildings, they can easily be incorporated into your day, throughout the day, to simply get you more active.
Simply taking the stairs more often throughout the day has been found to;
Strengthen musculoskeletal system
Improve bone density
Reduce mortality risk
Lower heart rate
Reduce risk of heart disease
Promote weight loss
Improve muscle tone
Reduce cholesterol levels
Reduce stress levels
Improve energy levels throughout the day
How to Start Stair Climbing
As with any form of physical activity, it is important to ensure you are in good health, and that the exercise you want to undertake is suitable for you before you begin. If you’re a newcomer to stair climbing, or vigorous cardio in general, its best to start off small. When stair climbing, your body is subjected to less impact (particularly in the ankles and feet) than it is when running. For this reason it is also a great, high intensity but low impact alternative to running. However, it is still important to listen to your body. Pay particular attention, when starting out, to any feelings of pain or discomfort in the lower body (especially in the hips, knees or ankles).
10 steps is widely considered as 1 flight. An easy way to start then, is to break down your ‘climb’ into flights. For example you could complete 3 lots of 10 flights, with 2 short breaks, as a start point. Alternatively you could increase intensity with ‘stair intervals’ for example 2 mins of intense stair climbing (a fast walk or run) followed by a 1 minute rest for 3 rounds.
To increase your daily stair climbing, as a way of making your day more generally active, is surprisingly easy. Even if you’re working from home, you can set yourself challenges, such as avoiding the downstairs toilet, thus giving you extra trips on the stairs. It is also highly recommended that you remain as active as you can, even while observing social distancing measures, for the sake of your physical health and mental wellbeing. You can do this by moving around regularly, throughout the day, every 30 minutes or so. You could easily incorporate a few stair climbs into your short movement breaks throughout the day, and, in doing so burn up to an extra 250 calories, without even getting a sweat on!