If you're looking to add variety and a new challenge to your exercise routine, introduce yourself to stair exercise. Stair exercise allows you to strengthen your lower body, while improving your health, weight and fitness level. If you have a staircase, you don't even have to leave the house to get a good workout. Also, you don't have spend a lot of time exercising, because even climbing stairs for for short durations throughout the day has benefits.
The exact number of calories you burn climbing stairs depends on your age, body composition and intensity level. You could burn about 150 calories in just 10 minutes of climbing stairs. Harvard Health Publications states that exercising for 30 minutes on a stair step machine, also known as a stair climber machine, will burn 180 calories for a 125-lb. person, 223 calories for a 155-lb. person and 266 calories for a 185-lb. person.
Even short burst of stair climbing can improve your health. By taking the stairs for 13.5 minutes each day, participants in a study published in the April 2000 issue of Preventative Medicine improved their heart rates, breathing ability and HDL cholesterol levels. In this study, participants climbed 199 stairs, six times a day, to accumulate the 13.5 minutes of stair-climbing exercise. In other words, even climbing a few flights of stairs several times a day while work, home, or when running errands, can significantly improve your health and help you lose weight.
Consult your physician prior to committing to any form of exercise program. The light to moderate intensity of stair climbing can cause stress on the joints in the lower back and legs, advises Pierce. When climbing stairs, place your foot fully on each step and lean slightly forward to lower the stress placed on your back, hips and knees. Do not hunch your back or use the hand-railings for support or you will decrease your exercise intensity and place stress on your back. If, at anytime, you feel faint, dizzy, short of breath or nauseous while doing stair exercise, stop immediately.
When you take the stairs, you give yourself many advantages. Even taking two flights of stairs every day will provide you with a free workout that could help you to lose 5.94 lbs. a year, improve your heart health, reduce your risk of osteoporosis, lower your risk of death, boost your confidence and relieve some stress or tension, according to the Columbia University Medical Center. Plus, it often takes longer to wait for an elevator than it does to take the stairs.
You can add variety to your stair exercise to keep it fun and interesting. If you use a stair-climbing machine, try varying your step speed, adding resistance or using a preprogrammed workout. When using a staircase, try walking up the stairs and running back down, stepping wide up the stairs as if you were skating up the stairs, jumping up the stair, walking up the stairs sideways or take two steps at a time, advises Fitness Magazine. If you do not have access to a stair climber or a staircase, you can get your stair exercise by going up and down on one step or by using a sturdy crate or stool as a step.
- Dr. Patricia Pierce; Professer of of Exercise and Rehabilitative Sciences at Slippery Rock University; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
- harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School: Calories burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- "Preventive Medicine"; Training Effects of Accumulated Daily Stair-Climbing Exercise in Previously Sedentary Young Women; Boreham CA, Wallace WF, and Nevill A.; April 2000
- Fittness Magazine: Climb Away 150 Calories in 15 Minutes
- Columbia University Medical Center: Top 10 Reasons to Take the Stairs
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.