These days, penciling in a trip to the gym or a lengthy bike ride is not always feasible, but that doesn’t make staying fit any less essential. Increasingly, people with jam-packed schedules are finding that they can reach their fitness goals by working out at home, whether that involves following fitness videos, joining accountability groups or what have you.
A home workout doesn’t always need to be that complicated, though – many homes provide prime workout spots that don’t require a TV, an internet connection or even other people, and if you have a staircase in your home, you have a great opportunity to get your blood pumping – and some serious health benefits – simply by taking the stairs. Just how can stair-climbing benefit you, health-wise, and just how much of an impact can it have?
Health Benefits of Taking the Stairs
It may surprise you, but health experts classify climbing stairs as a “vigorous” activity, meaning it takes substantially more energy than many other moderate forms of exercise, including jogging. Additionally, climbing stairs, whether in your own home or somewhere else, offers the following health benefits:
- Weight loss. Climbing stairs, even twice daily, can lead to a 6-pound weight loss over a one-year period.
- Better aerobic capacity. Regular stair climbers have higher fitness levels and better aerobic capacity than those who don’t regularly ascend and descend.
- Healthier bones, muscles and joints. Climbing stairs can help you build and retain bone, muscle and joint strength.
- Improvements in bone density. Many people, and in particular, many women, suffer bone density loss as they age, which can lead to osteoporosis and a heightened risk of falls.
- A release of endorphins. Ever notice how, even when you don’t want to work out, you feel like a million bucks after? Stair-climbing, like most forms of exercise, releases mood-boosting endorphins.
While these are some of the key benefits of climbing stairs, there are certain actions you can take to make stair-climbing even more advantageous for you. For example, wear high heels! Research shows that you can burn even more calories climbing stairs in heels than you would in regular footwear. Just be sure to keep on hand on the railing! Furthermore, if you work in a building with five flights of stairs or less, taking the stairs can actually save time over waiting for the elevator. So much so, in fact, that opting for the stairs can save as much as 15 minutes of your time every day.
Often overlooked and frequently underutilized, staircases present a prime opportunity to “step up” your fitness game. So, next time you’re struggling with whether to hit the gym or the button for the elevator, reconsider and instead, take the stairs.