Climbing stairs – your secret to improved fitness

There is a saying that states “A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time – pills or stairs.”  This statement rings so true and once a person takes up this advice, they’ll soon understand why.

If you are looking for that one special exercise that does it all, climbing a flight of stairs may be the answer.  Stair climbing is one of the best-kept secrets of the fitness world.  Don’t worry if bounding up a flight of stairs seems daunting and it can be.  But even at a slow pace, when climbing stairs, you’ll burn calories two to three times faster than walking briskly on a flat surface.   The act of walking up steps is considered one of the most effective means of exercise that gets results in improving health. 

Granted, climbing flights of stairs is not for everyone, particularly for those with bad knees or hips, or arthritis, but it is a great workout proven to reduce risk for heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving overall fitness. 

When we climb stairs, it combines two workouts in one exercise – cardio and muscle strengthening.  You’re breathing more deeply as your heart rate increases maximizing cardio benefits.  Stair climbing is perfect for toning muscles as it amps up your core muscle strength in muscles that may be ignored in other forms of exercise – glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs and calves. 

Stair climbing is challenging but if a person eases themselves over time into making this work-out a permanent part of their exercise routine, they will see and discover significant body and health improvements making it well worth the effort.

Health benefits of stair climbing

Here are other benefits of stair climbing to consider:

·Powerful improvements for your cardio health – Stair climbing strengthens your heart and lungs.  Stronger lungs allow your body to take in more oxygen while a strong heart helps refuel working muscles more quickly and efficiently with oxygen rich blood.  If done regularly, stair climbing increases heart and lung function, therefore improving your overall endurance. 

·Considerable benefits in strengthening muscles – Climbing flights of stairs will result in lean, strong leg muscles – who doesn’t love that?  As we climb each step, it involves all your leg muscles including glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.  This is building muscle strength and tone in addition to building bone density reducing the risk of fractures. 

·Added bonus of aiding weight loss – A very significant bonus of stair climbing is the fact it can be a great way to help with weight loss.  Harvard Medical School has reported that stair climbing is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off.  Don’t believe that you have to climb stairs at a fast pace.  Even if you simply walk up a flight of stairs at a slower pace, you will burn calories three times faster than when walking at a faster speed on a normal surface.  This is because climbing stairs raises metabolic rate due to more muscle mass which burns more calories. 

·Relieves tension, stress while increasing energy – As you take each step climbing your way to better health, your body will be releasing natural pain relievers called endorphins. Endorphins are released from the pituitary gland of the brain during periods of strenuous exercise like stair climbing.  These feel-good chemicals help relieve pain, stress, and anxiety while providing feelings of positivity, happiness and an energizing outlook on life.  Over time, your focus and concentration will improve. All of this can lead to improved energy levels helping to get more done each day.

·Strengthens your immune system – Working out by climbing stairs will result in a healthier body.  This means your immune system, that network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend your body against attacks by “foreign” invaders, becomes stronger.   A strong immune system can work more effectively to combat any threats to the body such as the common cold.  You may still catch a cold but the severity and duration will be greatly reduced. 

Other advantages of stair climbing

Besides the obvious health benefits this form of exercise provides stair climbing is easy to build into your life making it a daily habit.   Maybe you don’t have a flight of stairs in your home.  No problem.  Look around where you live and find places to take advantage of fitting stair climbing in each day. It could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator in any building, climbing bleacher stairs at a football stadium, or walking up an escalator instead of passively riding it up to the top. Whenever you see stairs to climb, do so.

Here are other reasons why stair climbing should be considered:

·No special skills, training or athletic ability required

·It’s time efficient as it can save time

·Completely free to do

·You can start off with a few flights and then build up over time

·No need to get dressed in any special type of outfit – just make sure whatever you are wearing is comfortable and conducive to climbing stairs

Not everyone may be suited for stair climbing

While stair climbing offers tremendous health benefits, the vigorous activity may be unsafe or unsuitable for some people.  This could include those with heart conditions as well as for those with knee, hip, or ankle problems.  Discuss stair climbing with your doctor in advance of any activity.  For some, it may be advisable to use the railing for balance to lower your risk for injury.  Always use extreme caution when going back down a flight of stairs as knees and ankles are subjected to stress that equals at least six times your normal body weight.