As you know, climbing the stairs at work, the mall, or your home, is a better way of getting to where you want to go. The benefits of stair climbing extend far beyond the calorie burn. For example, regular paced stair climbing can burn up to 500 calories in one hour, while building muscle and strengthening your joints!
Stair climbing is two to three times more beneficial than a brisk paced walk. Both walking and stair climbing are good for you, but stairclimbing gives you that little bit extra.
Climbing the stairs is like doing numerous single leg step–ups. You can increase the range of motion (ROM) by doing double step to get deeper into the hip and knee musculature, giving you a greater strength benefit. Not to mention, the more muscle you move, the calories you burn. Burn baby, burn!
One of the biggest scientific studies to date, The Harvard Alumni Study, found that men who climbed an average of eight or more flights of stairs a day had a 33% lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary. When compared to walking, it’s considerably better than the 22% lower death rate observed in men who walked 1.3 miles a day.
Stair climbing has officially been classified as a vigorous exercise (duh), and can help you burn more calories than jogging alone.
Changing up the way you do the stairs can also greatly increase the benefits. Try going up at a 45′ angle. Stepping sideways while crossing (or not crossing) your legs. No one really goes upstairs backwards, but it’s pretty good for the quads if you decide to give it a try.
I wanted to touch on concerns about stairclimbing being “bad” for your knees. The same movement occurs for squats, lunges, getting up out of a chair (squat), and getting out of a low car. It is true that these movements are bad for your knees, if you already have issues with your knees, however, doing the stairs slowly on the way down will strengthen all the muscles around your knee joint. If your knees are sore after, stretch!!! Chances are, your muscles surrounding the knee are tight and pulling more than they should. For example; pain at the side of your knee might indicate a tight hip, pain felt at the bottom of the knee could be tight quadriceps or pain behind the knee could be tight calves.
Just because you have pain in a certain area, doesn’t always mean that’s where the injury is. Be mindful and aware of how your body feels and as always, if the pain persists, have it checked by a professional.
All this talk of stair climbing has given me a fantastic idea!
This Saturday’s class will be at the stairs at the back of LaSalle Park. If you’re coming to the class for the first time, just go to the very back of the park and down the hill behind the pavilion.