Stair Workouts – Benefits and How to Do It

Stair climbing is the perfect workout for improving your cardiovascular fitness as well as burning calories.

According to the 2011 Compendium on Physical Activities, stair climbing expends approximately 9.0 METs (Metabolic equivalent), which is the unit of measuring energy output from physical activity. 

To give you an idea, resting expends 1 MET = 1 calorie/ kilogram of bodyweight and walking at a comfortable pace expends approximately 3.3 METS.

If you’re looking for a fun way to torch calories and shed pounds, why not up your workout a notch with stair-running workout.

Unlike many other form of cardio, stair-running can be done both indoors and outdoors. 

So, maybe in your next workout, you will ditch your usual gym exercises for some fresh air and sunshine.

Stair running doesn’t just condition your heart, but also your legs, glutes and core. 

For many years, high school football coaches and cardiologists have known the secret of a perfect calorie burning workout, running the stairs.

Coaches urge their players to run up flight after flight of stadium steps, whereas many cardiologists use climbing stairs as a way to determine cardiovascular fitness.

Many fitness buffs see stair running as the perfect workout because it involves intense cardiovascular exercise while toning the entire lower half of the body.

You will be hard-pressed to find an exercise that is more effective at burning large amounts of calories, toning your muscles and improving your overall fitness.

What Is So Special About Stairs?

There are many studies that show the benefits of running stairs.

A study conducted by the Harvard Alumni Study found that men who are sedentary have a 33 percent higher mortality rate than those who climb an average of 8 flights of stairs per day. 

When it comes to increasing cardiovascular fitness, running stairs is of extreme benefit.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that women who incorporated stairs into their daily exercise routine increased their maximum aerobic capacity (VO2 max) by 17.1 percent.

As far as muscle toning, running stairs tones every muscle in the lower body and also increases stability.

This all in one move tones your core, quadriceps, calves, butt and surrounding muscles, while also requiring spine and ankle flexion, knee extension, and hip extension and abduction. 

What Goes Up Must Come Down

When thinking about running stairs, most people only focus on running up.

Whereas this is where the majority of your muscles are being worked, running back down the stairs has its own set of benefits.

The body must work twice as hard to balance itself when going down the stairs, therefore working a different set of muscles.

Start a Stair Running Workout

Because stairs can be located almost anywhere, this is an extremely simple routine to start.

To begin, find a set of stairs to use. This can be at a public park, a stadium or even in your home or apartment complex.

Time yourself to see how long running up and back down this flight of stairs takes you. Run up the entire flight of stairs, and then immediately run back down.

The American Council on Exercise suggests that once you have reached the bottom, you need to rest for a period that equals 3 times the amount of time it took you to run up and down the stairs.

You want to repeat this action for the duration of your workout.

Depending on your fitness level, this should range anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

As your level of fitness increases, challenge yourself to a longer workout. This will only provide you with greater benefits.

A Word of Caution

Because running stairs can place a lot of impact on your joints, be sure to wear supportive footwear.

Always make sure to run on dry stairs, and walk up and down them once before running to check for any obstructions or loose steps.

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