Posted on 14 Jul 2014

Ditching the Elevator and Using the Stairs for Fitness

Stairs for Fitness. Photo Credit RedBookMag

I just recently moved into a walk up apartment building. Living on the 10th floor, I always thought that the most convenient way to get up and down my flat was to take the elevator. While waiting for my ride, I noticed the usual signage posted near the lift doors saying “If you’re going up 2-3 floors, we recommend you take the stairs. It’s good for you.”

Seeing that I wasn't in a hurry and that the lift was taking too long to get to the ground floor, I considered the suggestion and entered the stairwell. The ten floor challenge was on.

A few agonizing steps later, I found myself panting and literally crawling to my apartment door. After hydrating myself and getting some time to catch my breath, I vowed that conquering the ten floor walk up my apartment would be my next fitness challenge. I’d include walking up the stairs into my slowly growing fitness regimen.

Looking for a convenient workout that hardly costs any money and can be done throughout the year? Try stair climbing.

It’s convenient since most multi-storey buildings have elevators: schools, offices and even condominiums. Since the stairs are indoors you can easily climb them most of the year. You won’t have to postpone your workout even if it was raining or snowing outside. You won’t need any special equipment so there are no added costs. A good pair of running shoes and regular workout clothes are all you need.

Imagine all these benefits and I haven’t even begun to expound on the health and fitness part of the equation!

Research into stair climbing have documented its numerous health benefits: weight loss (in fact, studies have shown that you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run); and muscle toning (not just of your lower body, but also of your arms, particularly if you use hand railings that help you pull your arms up). There is also the added benefit of less impact on your legs, ankles and knees. Other fitness benefits were validated through the two research presented below.

A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine monitored the health of 22 sedentary college-age women who began climbing stairs over the course of seven weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that these women enjoyed better health outcomes in various categories: reduced heart rates, lower oxygen uptake and blood lactate levels.

Similarly, a Harvard Alumni Study discovered that men who averaged climbing at least eight flights a day enjoyed a 33% lower mortality rate compared to their sedentary counterparts. What is more amazing is that these findings are even better than the 22% lower mortality rate reported for men walking 1.3 miles a day.

Now I’m on my second week since adding stair climbing into my daily regimen. I’m happy to report that my endurance has improved considerably - I don’t pant as heavily as I used to. I’m a convert to this simple lifestyle adjustment and will continue to advocate it for other people interested in a low impact, affordable and all-weather fitness regimen that has proven medical and fitness benefits. I’d definitely advocate stair climbing for fitness!

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