Stair Climbing as a Workout Routine

Young adult woman walking up the stairs with sun sport background.

Written by Komalpreet Kaur

If you are looking for a workout routine that does not involve a gym membership or equipment and also provides enormous health benefits, then stair climbing is perfect for you! It not only helps overcome most of the real and perceived barriers such as lack of time, money, nearby fitness facilities and poor weather that often result in inactivity but also boosts cardio, bone and brain health.

Stair climbing offers the benefits of aerobic and resistance exercise for enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness, (a vital health marker for longevity and cardiovascular health risks) and leg muscle strength without having to leave the house, workplace or pay a fee. It also saves you from the guilt of not doing anything for your physical wellness.

Benefits of Stair Climbing:

  • Reduces the risk of heart attacks by half 
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Reduces mortality rate by 33%
  • Protects against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis
  • Helps manage cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Prevents weight gain
  • Exercises our bones and muscles, improving bone density and muscle tone
  • Improves cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and agility 
  • Easy way to burn calories; Burns 500 calories in 30 minutes
  • Tones lower body

People with pre-existing medical conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular conditions and balance issues must consult a physician before engaging in stair climbing workouts as it can be strenuous and might lead to more damage than benefit.

Beginners must start out the workout slowly and then gradually increase the intensity and number of flights. Consistency is an important element if a person wants to benefit from stair climbing.

Interval training on the stairs can be extremely beneficial in boosting health especially for people with a sedentary lifestyle, and vigorously climbing a few flights of stairs during the day with 3-4 hour intervals can promote physical and mental health. Burning a few calories through a simple workout routine can be extremely satisfactory to people who spend half their waking hours at work. In fact, a workplace on the third or fourth level from the ground can be considered an attractive arena for enhancing physical activity levels.

As per the information provided by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2005, a significant improvement in aerobic capacity, as well as an 8% reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol was observed when healthy women with a sedentary lifestyle, briskly climbed eight flights of stairs five days a week for a period of eight weeks; starting with one ascent a day and working up to five.

Stair climbing workouts through the use of ellipticals or stair climbers are also very prevalent and stair Climbers can be used for cardiac training. 

Climbing Real Stairs vs Stair-Climbing Machines

  • Stair Climbing machines can be beneficial to people with conditions like arthritis and biomechanical problems as these machines tend to be easier on the joints; ankles, knees and hips than the actual stairs. The impact from the stair climbers is lower when compared to real stairs
  • Real stair climbing has greater benefits of bone health, as it allows a fuller range of motion through the joints
  • Leaning and gripping on the side rails of the stair climbers can reduce the quality of the workout
  • Stair climbers can not be used for interval training as these only go one way, that is up

Physical activity in any form has always been known to improve the overall health and well-being of an individual but for most people who spend large portions of their day at their workplaces, it is hard to engage in any type of physical activity. Stair Climbing is an efficient choice for the working population, and engaging in the behaviour of climbing stairs even for 30 minutes every day during lunch or coffee breaks can bring a positive change in their health status. Employers can actively initiate conversations about ‘Why is taking stairs over elevators beneficial for health?’. Apart from this, small stepping up the stairs reward-challenges for employees at the workplace can encourage and increase their participation in stair climbing.

Healthy employees = A better workplace

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