Are you able to walk for miles on a treadmill, but can barely ascend a few flights of stairs? I explain to Marty Gonzalez, KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, why stair climbing is so different from walking — and how it not only benefits your life but your sex life as well.😉
Stair Climbing vs. Walking
Stair climbing improves cardiorespiratory fitness. It is officially classed as a “vigorous” form of exercise. Stair climbing is a more POWERFUL form of walking because it:
Stair Climbing and Sex
Researchers in Canada monitored healthy male volunteers averaging age 64 while they walked, lifted weights, or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. Stair climbing was:
- Twice as taxing as brisk walking on level ground.
- 50% harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights.
- Faster at attaining peak exertion than walking (thus, explains the “huffing and puffing” going upstairs).
How to Stair Climb Your Way to a Longer Life and Stop Middle-Age Weight Gain
Climb 8 or more flights/day: Per a study of 10,269 Harvard alumni, men who climbed an average of eight or more flights of stairs per day decreased mortality by 33% than sedentary men. When compared to walking 1.3 miles per day, stair climbing still lowered the death rate in men by 22%.
- Climb stairs for 7 minutes every day: Studies show it can cut your heart attack risk in half over 10 years.
- Climb stairs an extra 2 minutes per day: Studies show it can help stop middle-age weight gain .
Why Walking Down Stairs Can Be More Difficult
For some people with knee issues, walking down stairs may be more challenging. That’s because going down stairs requires greater knee flexion.
How to Train
Don’t attempt to charge up several long flights of stairs without a warm-up and when you’re not in condition yet.
- Start at a slow, steady pace.
- Begin with just a flight or two.
- Add more flights as you improve.
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Avoid wearing heels.
- If you have a long climb, walk part way, then switch to an elevator.
- Use the railing for balance (especially going down) BUT try not to use your arms to “hoist yourself up” the stairs.
- Like any strenuous exercise, don’t attempt the stairs if you don’t feel well or after eating a heavy meal.
Like walking, stair climbing works when it comes to cardiovascular benefits. It improves cardiac risk factors, such as:
- Blood pressure
- Vascular stiffness and inflammation
- Mental stress
Also protects against dementia, colon cancer, peripheral artery disease, depression, and erectile dysfunction.
The Takeaway: Stair climbing can be a health plus and is a great way to increase core strength (abdomen, back, gluteals), thighs (hamstrings + quadriceps), and calves — all the muscles you need for good postural control and for being functionally fit.