Then climb ‘em again!
Stair-climbing is a remarkable form of exercise. It’s aerobic because it increases your heart rate and works your lungs, it conditions and strengthens your lower body, and it prevents osteoporosis. On every step, your legs bear the load of your body weight. The vigorous action of your leg muscles pulling against your leg bones increases bone density.
‘Counting steps instead of miles can boost your walking workout and save you time,’ says www.prevention.com. ‘Researchers in England and Northern Ireland asked 12 sedentary women to climb a 200-step staircase, progressing from once a day to six times a day (they were allowed to take the elevator down.) Each ascent took about 2 minutes, so by the end of the study, the women were exercising only 12 minutes a day. In less than two months, they saw a boost in their fitness level, along with improvements in their cholesterol level that were enough to cut their risk of cardiovascular disease by 33 percent.’
If you live in a two-storey house you will have a set of stairs in your own home. You may have a stairwell at work or in your local shopping centre. Outdoors, you may find a good flight of stairs in a park or a parking structure that you can work out on. Stair-climbing machines are also great if you have a gym membership or the motivation to use one at home.
As with any exercise, don’t overdo. Warm up and cool down and stretch your legs before and after, and consult a doctor before beginning if you have an existing condition like knee or hip problems.
Even if you don’t have time for a workout, just taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator as you work, travel and shop delivers benefits. So don’t shun stairs—climb them whenever you can!