5 Reasons Why You Should Take the Stairs
I don't know about you, but if I have a choice between an elevator and stairs, I'm probably taking the elevator.
When it comes to getting plenty of daily activity, taking the stairs could actually boost your fitness levels. One of the easiest changes you can make in your day, taking the stairs will help you realize major benefits in a short amount of time.
When you take the stairs, we are improving our heart health, circulation, and getting in some physical activity. Small changes to your daily activity levels can make a difference in your health, so any added amount will make you healthier.
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Taking the stairs whenever possible helps you use your muscles and train your brain for that movement. It's not a chore, burden, or a hard workout in a gym.
If you work up on the 20th floor of a high rise building, taking the stairs all of the way up is something you'll want to do gradually. Take the elevator up a few floors short and walk the rest of the way. Slowly add floors as you are able to climb more.
Of course, before you start taking the stairs, you need to be aware of a few downsides. Going up the stairs is the beneficial part, going down them is what's hard on your body.
When going down the stairs, your connective tissue, joints, and ligaments take a beating — so the ideal place to take the stairs is where you can ride an elevator back down.
So if you are injury-free and your knees can take it, climbing stairs on a regular basis will give you these five benefits.
Reasons to Take the Stairs
1.) You Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
When you think of cardio exercise, you think about going to the gym and nearly dying on a cardio machine, right?
Dr. Sarah M. Speck, cardiologist, and internist located in Seattle, Washington has been noted saying "in order to live a healthier life and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, we need to move the big muscles between our waist and our knees for at least 30 minutes every day."
She goes on to say that when this type of activity is paired with a healthy diet, you will lower your blood pressure, manage your weight and stress, improve our sleep, blood sugar, cholesterol, bone health, and metabolism.
You don't have to sweat profusely to help your heart — that's what movement will do.
Speck points out that doing 10 minutes of exercise three times per day can be just as beneficial as doing all 30 minutes at once. The important factor is that you do it regularly and consistently.
Next time you are out shopping or have to climb stairs, you are preventing future heart events. You will get your blood pressure and cholesterol to a healthy level, fight off weight gain, and prevent the development of diabetes.
“Most people don’t know that 80% of whether we will get heart disease is under our control,” adds Dr. Speck. “Only 20% is due to our genes or family history.”
2.) You Can Easily Progress
If you already have to walk up stairs every day like me, it eventually becomes easy. Once it has become a leisurely stroll, there are a few ways you can up the intensity and make it a better workout.
The easiest way is to increase your speed. If you don't want people wondering if you have lost your sanity, you could also try to walk up the stairs two steps at a time.
This will make your workout harder and less "eyes on you" than simply sprinting up the stairs.
Want another good example? Instead of one leg after the other, walk up one to two steps with your right leg and meet the same height with your left leg. Do 10 steps using your right leg to lift you up, and then 10 with the other leg doing the work.
This fatigues your right leg, glutes, and quads for each leg. It is a sneaky way to push your body without being obvious.
3.) Your Legs Will Get Stronger
Sitting all day is hurting our bodies and creating muscle imbalances. When you climb stairs, the engagement of these weakened muscles allows us to get stronger and more balanced.
This means the stress and strains we feel on joints can be alleviated.
As you climb the stairs, you are building and strengthening your quads, butt, and calves. This all helps stabilize your knee and ankle joints. So in order to work your legs properly, you have to understand there is a proper stair-climbing technique.
Maintaining the right posture and foot placement helps you build strength evenly — preventing overuse or overcompensation injuries.
When walking up the stairs, think about "pressing through your heels." When you press through your toes, your knee is tracking past your foot — which is bad for your knees.
4.) It's a Great and Efficient Workout
When you think about working out, you think about taking time out of your day to go to the gym, right?
If you have stairs that you can climb in your commute that you're already taking, that extra effort from going up the stairs can replace a longer cardio workout at the gym.
Experts calculate that 5 minutes casually walking up stairs can replace a 20-minute cardio session in the gym. If you up the intensity by running up the stairs for 5 minutes, you would need an equivalent of about an hour of regular cardio exercise.
The vertical component of stairs makes it more effective, efficient, and unique than other forms of cardio. In fact, researchers at McMaster University found these short, intense bursts of stair climbing of 30 minutes per week is adequate exercise.
5.) There Are Mental Benefits, Too
Many studies suggest that exercise boosts your mental attitude and reduces your stress.
Every time you make a decision to start a healthy habit, your brain and attitude will change. Furthermore, once we make a decision to start another healthy habit, it makes starting other healthy habits easier. It's kind of like a domino effect.
This is why it's best to just get started and improve as you go.
Researchers at Concordia University found a strange connection with the more flights of stairs a person has to climb and the number of years of school completed. They found the more stairs combined with schooling meant their brains aged slower.