Look. Exercising is not something you should plan in advance. Nor is it something you go out of your way to perform. You do not need to schedule your gym time like a dentist appointment or place a delegated hour for a brisk walk on the treadmill.
Instead, studies have shown that minor changes in our everyday habit are more closely associated with improving your health than you think. That is aside from raking the leaves, the best example is none other than taking the stairs.
It’s the single most effective exercise you can do for both immediate and long-term health benefits, especially for people leading sedentary work lives. Besides, stairs by themselves are ubiquitously available exercise machines that you can access conveniently over the ordinary course of our everyday life.
Before you proceed it should be pointed out, anyone with osteoarthritis or knee problems should consult their physician before deciding to take the stairs as a normal routine.
For everyone else, however, climbing stairs for exercise could have transformative benefits for your health and fitness. Let’s look at some of those benefits, so you can start leading a healthier lifestyle.
It’s A Free Workout
The stairs allow you to work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs, and calves all while just walking. A 5-minutes walk up to your office is equivalent to doing a set of burpees. This is a free workout equipment, you’d be silly if you did not take advantage of it.
Although walking up and down the stairs is great on its own, the amount of calories it can burn is still limited. In this case, try jogging up and down the stairs to amplify the benefits. By sprinting up and down the longest staircase you can find, you’re not only activating little-used muscle groups but also increasingly training your lung capacity. But even that is only the beginning.
There’s a whole list of workouts you can perform on stairs. You can perform walking lunges, to get a deeper burn on the quadricep and hip flexor. You can take the stairs sideways, you can use the stairs to do incline push ups – facing up if you want to work your triceps and down if you want to flex your chest and shoulders. You can even do tricep dips and jump squats as well.
The reality is stair climbing works the aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously, giving you maximum benefit for your time. The exercise is even used by runners, swimmers, cyclists and other competitive athletes to improve their endurance.
Longer Life Span
Another research shows that climbing the stairs is eight flight of stairs a day can lower the average early mortality risk by 33%. Though it is just the third factor influencing a person’s life expectancy this massive reduction in long term risk can be a game changer.
If you’re a younger person and you’re not worried about longer-term health risks, it’s also worth noting that by climbing the stairs for literally two minutes a day can stop the average amount of weight gain experienced entering middle age.
So that’s avoidance of the typical spare tire and a massive reduction in your chances of dying early. All from just using what is right in front of you, every day on your way to and from work.
If you won’t take it from me, take the advice from Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a Japanese longevity expert who has lived up to 105 years old. He imposed a few inviolable health rules, avoid obesity, carries your own packages and luggage, and take the stairs (he did, two steps at a time).
Heart Health Improvement
Expert in exercise and sports science Professor Brad Cardinal said stairs climbing or raking the leaves is as good for your heart as going to the gym. The short burst of activity throughout the day is just as beneficial as regular workouts in the gym.
Climbing stairs for exercise burn more calories per minute than jogging. If you can perform just seven minutes of stair climbing every day, you can halve your risk of heart attack over 10 years. That’s because it’s considered a vigorous form of exercise.
Climbing the stairs no matter how fast or slow you go, can raise your heart rate and it does not matter how fit you are. Because just imagine, it’s like you are doing vertical lunges each time you take a step.
WIth stair climbing spread out over the course of your day, you can increase your overall activity level and thereby, increase your overall health, in an easy and convenient manner. In the long term, this will help protect you against high blood pressure, weight gain and clogged arteries.
Reduce Carbon Footprint
If you take two flights of stairs every day at work, you will save 72 kilowatts of energy each day — which equals about 90 cents a year in energy costs. Doesn’t sound like much, right?
But how many people work in your building? Multiply it by that amount. How many years will they work there? Multiply it by that amount. Soon you’ll see that cultural change – shifts in the zeitgeist that are precipitated by small changes in habits – can have a huge impact. But only if there are people out there willing to inspire others.
If you start taking the stairs and encourage two more people to do it, who encourage two more people to do it, and so on and so forth, you are indirectly responsible for every person inspired by that domino effect. As such, your carbon footprint can extend far beyond your own personal activity.
By taking back body autonomy, using our legs when we have the opportunity to do so, we are also acting responsibly on behalf of the environment.
It Saves Time, Seriously
Finally, if you’re only going a few flights, you’ll actually save time. The time it takes for an elevator to be called, open, close, take the instruction, accelerate, decelerate and open again is far slower than if you just take the stairs, especially if you can jog them. You could probably have jogged a flight of stairs in the time it took to read this paragraph alone.
But all jokes aside, a new study by the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon said that taking the elevator may add more time to your day. The researchers recruited some busy doctors and measured their time when making 14 different trips using the hospital stairs (walking, not running) and to make the same trip using the elevator.
When results were tallied and compared, it showed that there was a total time difference of 15 minutes saved by taking the stairs
So next time instead of taking the elevator or heading to the gym, just head on to your nearest stairway. Because if there’s one thing you should take away, that is there is no elevator to health.