Someone said it right, ‘The elevator to health is out of order, you need to take stairs’.
Before you embark on ‘Climbing Stairs’ as a form or exercise, I presume you have consulted your physician or cardiologists and you have their authorization to do these. If not, I strongly advise you to consult your doctor and get his approval before you initiate this.
Where can I find Stairs?
Obviously an absurd question, you can almost find stairs anywhere – at home, work, recreation, shopping mall, schools, public places, or even walking up/down the knoll. Despite being ubiquitous, there is no money involved in enjoying climbing stairs. Running up and down a flight of stairs can raise your heart rate quickly.
Climbing Stairs – What does it offers?
Climbing stairs is one of the most potent aerobic exercises that I see after running, swimming, jogging and high intensity sports. Our lifestyle or other constraints often forbid us from participating in these high intensity sports, however, it is possible to engage in climbing stairs in our day to day life. Often, I see folks reside in two storied homes or live in apartments or work in office or offices with multiple floors. If you don’t have one, find one.
While I walk down the Valley Ranch trail, the entire hillock rolling down to the flat terrain, amounts to 13 floors. If you are working or live on the higher floor, may be walk couple of those. Stairs help you increase the heart rate faster than walking, providing 3 times increase in workload in a similar period of time.
Stairs exercises the core and antigravity muscles; it helps keep them healthy plus the bigger antigravity muscles such as the thigh and abdominals burn significant calories. Remember, antigravity muscles are the cornerstone of all our daily activities. Weakness in these causes us to slouch, get tired or even change our body contour. Walking stairs enhances and reinforces your core muscles such as abdominals, hamstrings, quadriceps, and soleus (calf muscles). Remember, it is utmost important to keep these muscles healthy for sustaining energy and long periods of work. Mere bulky muscles are not a strength of healthy muscles. Gyms and resistance training keeps your muscles ‘BIG’, whereas climbing Stairs keeps those healthy.
Calories burned – Walking and Stair Climbing compared
For 150 lbs. person, 30 minutes of walk on an even surface burns 90 calories. It is 30 calories extra for the one weighing 200 lbs.
For those amongst us who are 150-160 lbs., can use below approximation to count calories burned while climbing stairs
- 3 flights of Stairs = 15 calories
- 60 minutes, four days a week – could burn roughly 532 calories per session
- 532 x 4 = 2218 calories/week
- You lose about one pound in a week and a half
- Climbing two stairs at a time increases not alone calorie consumption but also provides an additional exercise to the core muscles and the antigravity muscle.
- Increments of 10 minutes will offer sudden bursts in metabolism and help with possible weight loss.
- Walking down the stairs requires you to control your body from sliding down. This effort initiates your quadriceps and hip flexors to control the downward movement. They have to stabilize the torso from rolling down.
- You can almost blend other exercises such as raising your arms, carrying dumbbells, or twisting your body while walking down. Blending increases the calories burned. However, blending is to be avoided while walking downstairs
- Try to tuck your tummy in while climbing up and down the stairs, these will increase the tone of your abdominals (which help you sustain an erect posture) and also burn more calories
Remember these six tips while climbing stairs
- Put your entire foot on the step, leaning slightly forward, engage your core and tuck your tummy.
- Keep your toes straight rather than splaying them right or left.
- Though it sounds easy, give enough time while you are climbing down
- Always be well hydrated and adequate on calories, too much loading is bad, as is walking too many stairs while fasting.
- If you feel tired, skip a day but take an easy walk on an even surface.
- Fatigue sets in quickly and it’s important to maintain good form. Completing steps using bad form will stress/overload your body and potentially injure you. Always start small and increase gradually.
One of the most potent, no cost, no frill, readily available exercise available that provides great benefits. It helps provide tone to the core muscles plus enhance your stamina or endurance in addition to providing an easy means of burning three times extra calories as compared to walking or strolling.
This and other health blogs are written for increasing an awareness within the community. There are no direct or indirect material benefits from this blog/s.
Illustrations are taken from StepJockey and Nanoworkouts.com.
Exercise Tips for Harvard Stadium Stair Workout
Fitness for less: Low-cost ways to shape up
Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challenges
Exercise Activity Calculator (American Cancer Society)
How Many Calories do I need? Calorie Counter (from American Cancer Society)
Walking: Your steps to health (Harvard Health Publishing)
How to Burn About 150 Calories (Harvard Health Publishing)
Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights
List of skeletal muscles of the human body
Abdominal fat and what to do about it: Are you Pear Shaped or Apple Shaped?
Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest
Stretching: 35 exercises to improve flexibility and reduce pain (Harvard Health)
Marching orders: How to start a walking program
7 thoughts on “Why Stairs?”
Very very studied and informative article, it touches all aspects to keep one healthy. Importance of stairs climbing is described very precisely and scientifically.
Wonderful article indeed..Very informative!
Great info as expected – keep it up, Ash!
I loved your write up. I agree Stairs are underutilized exercise equipment at home. Though at home we need to wear good exercise shoes to avoid excessive and inappropriate weight bearing coz it’s repetitive.
Adding weights, walking diagonal gives it a little twist.
Thanks much! You brought up truly good points.
While using stairs, irrespective of the place, proper shoes are must. Also, a ramp-up is critical while starting any exercise, so is true with walking stairs. Obviously, any additional variation needs proper safeguard including precautions such as ramp-up, shoes and starting slow and building gradually.
I am a live testimony to Ash’s blog here. I have been doing stairs at home for past 2-3 years. About 300 floors every week, and it’s phenomenal. Fortunately, I do not have any medical issues or over weight problem. However, the energy you get back, not to mention the best ideas for work I get during this time, is phenomenal. Nevertheless, you need to be careful as this can be bad for your knees – I use light weight knee brace and walk diagonally.
Thanks, Ash for this detailed substantiation of the practice. Quite frankly, it’s reassuring and inspiring blog that we all can share with our loved ones and friends. You need to write one on importance of good sleep
Maunang, That is truly impressive. You set distinct precedence that we all would want to emulate. Great! Again, truly inspiring!
A note of caution for those aspiring to achieve his goals – always RAMP UP GRADUALLY. Also, while you set high targets, ALWAYS USE SHOES AND PROPER KINESTHETICS.