People often say — ditch the elevator and take the stairs if you want to lose weight. In case you are wondering if climbing stairs is a good workout for weight loss or if it offers any health benefits at all, keep reading.
This article has all the advantages and disadvantages of climbing stairs to help you make an informed decision before you add it to your fitness regimen.
Top 10 Benefits Of Climbing Stairs
There are multiple health benefits of climbing stairs, where the best part is that it can help you reach your fitness goals without any major equipment or special training:
- Aids Weight Loss: The most obvious and direct benefit of climbing stairs is that it aids weight loss. It is a simple aerobic exercise that you can easily add to your daily routine to burn calories and lose weight.
- Builds Stamina: Climbing stairs may make you gasp and struggle for your breath initially, but you will build stamina and strengthen your bones and muscles when you do it consistently.
- Improves Heart Health: A significant benefit of climbing stairs is that it improves your body’s maximal oxygen consumption and boosts your cardio-respiratory fitness. It boosts heart health by improving blood circulation and increasing good cholesterol in the body.
- Strengthens Muscles and Joints: As a vertical exercise, stair climbing pits the climber against gravity, thus enhancing your muscle and skeletal strength.
- Boosts Mental Health: This simple workout refreshes your mind, gives you an adrenaline rush, and stimulates the production of happy hormones.
- Decreases Risk Of Mortality: Stair climbing reduces your resting heart rate, decreases bad cholesterol, and lowers the mortality risk.
- Regulates Blood Pressure: Climbing stairs helps unclog the arteries and boosts your overall blood flow.[i]
- Tones Body: Climbing stairs is an effective core strengthening and body toning exercise. You can also climb stairs backwards to improve your stamina and get a more toned physique faster than ever.
- Increases Calorie-Burn: You burn more calories every minute while climbing stairs than jogging. As your body moves through resistance with every step you take, it helps your body burn fat rapidly.
- Lowers Risk Of Multiple Diseases: Climbing stairs for 20 minutes daily reduces the risk of severe conditions like diabetes, headaches, and osteoporosis.
Let’s fight osteoporosis!
Osteoporosis is a silent disease where your bones become brittle to the point that they can break easily.
Maintaining bone health is to retain as much bone as possible, for as long as you can, as bone mass stops increasing around the age of 30. As a weight-bearing exercise, stair climbing can help strengthen your bones, preventing osteoporosis.
How does climbing stairs help with bone health?
Your lower body’s bones work harder to maintain your weight when you are climbing stairs, and this additional strain makes your bone-building cells more active. You resist gravity and rise vertically when climbing stairs and this action generates a substantial body weight load to increase bone density.
Remember to set your feet firmly on each step by engaging your leg muscles. Your knees will experience less strain if you use your heels.
-Lavanya Parthasarathy, PhD, CDE
Must Read: Non-Surgical Weight Management Solution
Who Should Avoid Climbing Stairs?
A word of caution, climbing stairs is not advisable for:
- Those who are aged, weak or have bone and joint problems, as it increases the risk of falls and injuries.
- People with prolonged diabetes and visual dysfunction like retinopathy should skip the staircase to avoid accidents.
- Those suffering from neuropathy as they may experience a deterioration in their sensory, motor and autonomic nervous systems. It is a matter of their safety.
- Those who experience extreme fatigue after climbing stairs or suffer from heart conditions must avoid them.
- Those who are pregnant or suffering from arthritis.
Safety Tips To Follow While Climbing Stairs
While there are no significant side effects of climbing stairs, follow these simple tips to ensure you are safe:
- Wear comfortable shoes, fitted clothes and keep your hands free.
- Avoid slouching and maintain an upright body posture while using the stairs.
- Lead with your stronger leg while climbing and hold the handrail for support if needed.
- Do not exert yourself, take a break if you feel breathless or uncomfortable.
- In the beginning, try to take one step at a time and build your endurance gradually.
More expert tips
Get the most out of stair exercises!
- Long Strides: Walk up the stairs covering two or more stairs with each step. This will work your muscles in the back of your legs.
- Side Steps: For this, you need to turn sideways and start climbing with your right foot, followed by your left foot next to your right. Repeat this till you reach the top. This can help you shape your inner and outer thigh.
- Hops: Get your feet close together and hop onto each step, either with both legs or try single-leg hops (single-leg hops are more intense).
This is a plyometric move and can help you burn plenty of calories.
- Sprints: As the name suggests, run as fast as you can till the top and walk back down. Repeat this a couple of times.
- Interval Training: Combine the above-mentioned exercises with calf raises, stair lunges, and stair push-ups for a complete workout.
Stair climbing is an easy, low-impact cardiovascular exercise compared to HIIT or jump training and helps burn two to three times more calories than walking. It is a great full-body workout that improves cardiorespiratory health, strengthens and tones muscles, accelerates weight loss, and keeps you happy by releasing endorphins.
Now is a great time to begin if you haven’t yet added climbing stairs to your workout routine.