Did you know that even though we often walk on a flat surface to burn calories as a safe form of exercise, trainers often recommend deviating from your regular walks and climbing stairs instead?
Aerobic workouts which feature stair climbing offer a variety of benefits to your health overall. So, how many flights of stairs should we climb, and for how long?
Quantity and Quality
Fitness experts usually recommend between 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity like stair climbing three to five days every week in order to gain the most health benefits. You can start at a slow pace and aim to walk only a few flights until your body feels ready for an increased challenge.
Remember to protect your feet during stair workouts by wearing shoes with a firm heel, thick soles, and sufficient arch support – no high heels, please!
Aim to spend at least five minutes walking at a slow pace to warm the muscles. Warming the body up before exercise, even if it is as simple as climbing the stairs as opposed to push-ups or frog jumps, is imperative. Warming up reduces the potential for muscle and connective injuries by increasing the blood flow to exercising muscles. The more blood that reaches the muscles, the easier the delivery of nutrients required for energy production.
While stair climbing offers a variety of health benefits, it may be unsafe for people with heart conditions, as well as for those with knee, hip or ankle problems, so consult a doctor before you start. Use extreme caution when traveling downward, as your knees and ankles are subjected to stress that equals at least six times your normal body weight.
Consider alternating your stair climbing with other aerobic activities like bike riding or swimming in order to prevent muscle overuse and limit joint strain.
Why Choose the Stairs?
Stair climbing burns more calories than a traditional walk and increases your chances of losing weight. Understanding the benefits and risks of climbing stairs can help you plan your fitness routine.
- Helps in weight loss: Studies show that stair climbing is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off, since people who walk upstairs, even at a slower pace, burn calories three times faster than when walking at a faster speed on a normal surface.
- A chance to challenge yourself: A workout on the stairs also provides the maximum challenge for people who already maintain good fitness, including football players and other athletes, since the activity is estimated to be twice as vigorous as lifting weights or walking on a steep incline.
- Good blood flow: The vigorous and continuous movement of your legs and hips results in deeper breathing and increases your heartbeat, which enhances blood flow to all areas of your body. More blood flow means better oxygen supply to the body.
- Natural pain relief: Your body releases natural pain relievers, or endorphins, during a stair climb, so you’ll feel better and have less tension.
- Added benefits: Doctors also recommend stair climbing as an ideal way to improve your energy, increase the function of your immune system, and lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and heart disease.