- Oct 6, 2020
- 10 minutes
Get fit with stair exercise
Stair exercise is a great example of a superb total-body workout that doesn’t require fancy gym equipment or special skill. In fact, stair climbing is a fast and effective way to whittle your waist while going about your normal routine. It’s no accident that athletes from a variety of sports have been incorporating stair exercises into their routines for years. We’ve all seen the climactic scene in which the unknown athlete trains his heart out, running the bleacher stairs at the school stadium. Well, as it turns out, the director didn’t add that scene just for a visual tug at the heartstrings. Stair exercise is very much the real deal. The best part is, stairs are a downright cheap workout solution with a big payoff. Not only do you get improved muscle definition in your legs; tight buns; strengthened abs and toned calves; you also do your heart a favor. Researchers from the University of Birmingham in England discovered that a person could lower their risk for heart ailments by 60 percent simply by climbing a flight of stairs for just 7 minutes per day. Getting started is easy. All you need is a pair of comfortable and supportive shoes, a bottle of water, and some stairs. Stair climbing as exercise has very few physical restrictions. It’s important to be aware of your posture while you’re stepping. Standing up straight is the most beneficial position. Hanging on the rails diminishes the workout’s effectiveness. Maximize your workout’s benefits by taking a complete stride. In other words, place your foot squarely on each step; if you only use your tiptoes, you’re preventing your thighs and buttocks from getting a workout (which is why most of us would be considering stair exercise in the first place). Folks with knee problems should check with their doctors before taking on stair climbing as a serious workout; the same applies to individuals who have heart ailments, asthma, or other lung disorders.
Here are some fun ways to incorporate stair exercise into your daily routine:
Don’t take the elevator — Work in an office building? Resist the temptation to ride the elevator unless your office happens to be on the 11th floor. Instead, avoid awkward rides up and down two floors and squeeze in a mini-workout at work. Need to take some files down to the second floor? Use the stairs. Got a question for somebody on the sixth? Take the stairs. Time for lunch? You’ve got it, take the stairs. If you have some extra time, add a couple of extra floors to your run. If you find that coming down the stairs is a bit tricky for you, keep in mind that coming downshifts your weight and balance. In that case, climb a flight of stairs, walk around the landing or floor of that level, climb another flight and walk around again. Continue as far up as you like and take the elevator back down to your floor. If your office stairs are outside or in a locked stairwell, do yourself and your coworkers a favor and let them know when you go. That way, should you find yourself locked out, someone will notice that you’re missing and look for you.
Take your cell phone too, just in case. If your office building does not have security, be careful. Do not run in stairwells late at night, they may be dimly lit or unsafe. Even if you don’t work in a multi-level office building, you can add stair exercises to your daily life. At the mall, avoid escalators and look for the stairs. Do the same with large department stores. If your home is two stories, get moving on that staircase. It’ll make you feel better as you run papers, toys, linens, and shoes up and down each floor. Don’t feel like running? No problem. Even walking the stairs adds up to a big payoff at the end of the day. How much of a payoff? Grab your calculator. The average person burns.16 calories with each step they take. Climbing 200 steps is 32 calories. Going down the stairs burns less, but the effort adds up. Heavier individuals will burn more calories. For dedicated souls who want to devote a block of time to their workout, the average calories burned for one hour of stair climbing is approximately 562.
Vary your routine — Whether you’re running up and downstairs at work or at home, your body will quickly adapt to your workout. Trainers are always changing up their routines because your body burns more calories while learning a new movement. To introduce a little variety, run up then walk down. Sprint up to two floors, walk around a bit and then sprint down. Walk up, run down (This sounds easy, but you’d be surprised how much of a workout you get.). Skip steps on your run-up (do not skip steps on your walk down). Change your routine whenever you can.
Step exercises — You can do amazing things to tone your calves with just one step. Simply stand on the edge of a stair with the ball of your foot solidly on the stair. Hold onto the rail for support. Slowly lower your heel as far as you can, do not overstretch. Slowly bring your heel back level with the stair. Repeat the exercise with your other foot and build up your repetitions to 20 on each foot. This is also a great stretch to do after a run.
Stair machines — For the gym rats out there, you can easily incorporate a stair workout into your gym time. Simply navigate over to the cardio machines and select a stair climber. These machines are programmed to provide a variety of workouts and feature an assortment of difficulty levels and speeds. Many machines also give you the ability to check your heart rate so you can stay within your training zone. Stair climber exercises can give you very efficient and effective workouts, they are not terribly helpful if improperly used. If you find yourself hunched over or having to hang onto the rails to support your weight or stay stabilized, you’re working too hard and need to bring your workout down a level or two. The ideal posture for stair climbing equipment is upright, using the handrails for balance, not for support. Being hunched over not only diminishes the workout benefits for a stronger back, but it also decreases your workout intensity by up to 20 percent. Should you feel dizzy, faint, short of breath, or nauseous while working out, stop immediately. If you’ve never worked out before, check with a medical professional before beginning any serious workout regimen.
The beauty of a stair exercise is that it really works. That’s why stars like Madonna and Andie MacDowell have been known to do them. Even movie stars turned royalty attest to the benefits of stair exercises. Princess Grace, when asked how she kept her lovely shape, acknowledged the benefits of walking and climbing the many stairs found throughout Monaco. Stair exercise is truly fit for anyone, whether for a princess, a rock star, or you.