Stair climbing is a unique form of exercise that can have a powerful and positive impact on your health over time.
- Climbing just eight flights of stairs a day lowers average early mortality risk by 33%
- Seven minutes stair climbing a day can halve the risk of heart attack over 10 years
- Just two minutes extra stair climbing a day is enough to stop average middle age weight gain
Stair climbing delivers these benefits by improving our cardiovascular fitness. It’s officially classed as a ‘vigorous’ form exercise and burns more calories per minute than jogging.
Heart, mind, muscles & bones
By raising our heart rate, stair climbing helps protect against high blood pressure, weight gain and clogged arteries. This lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, vascular dementia and even some cancers.
Stair climbing also exercises our bones and muscles, improving strength, bone density and muscle tone. This is especially important for women in sedentary office jobs as they have a significantly higher osteoporosis risk than men.
Incidental physical activities like stair climbing are also associated with improved mental health. They cause our bodies to release endorphins, the so-called feel good hormones. They also provide time think and reflect – key factors in managing everyday stress and tensions.
Easy to build into your life
The health benefits of stair climbing are only part of the story.
Equally important is the fact that stair climbing is easy to build into your life and make a habit of. This is vital because it is really only exercise routines we sustain over time that make a significant difference to our long term wellbeing.
The reason why stair climbing is so easy to adopt as a daily habit is that it fits in with modern urban life, over 90% of which is spent indoors. Reasons for its growing popularity include:
- It does not require any special skills, training or sporting prowess
- It’s extremely time efficient, saving us time rather than eating into it
- It makes use of the world around us and does not cost anything
- You can start with just a few flights and build up over time
- No need to get dressed up or perform in front of others
Stair climbing is now so popular that more than 10,000 stairways have now been rated for calorie burn worldwide.
Stair climbing versus walking
Perhaps the best way to think of stair climbing is as a more powerful form of walking. Both are good for you but because stair climbing requires you to pull your weight against gravity, it requires more effort and its health benefits accrue more rapidly.
Even when climbing stairs at a normal pace, you will burn two to three times more energy than walking on the flat at a brisk pace. This extra benefit is reflected in health outcomes.