Health Benefits of Climbing Stairs

Whats the most effective exercise of all? Climbing stairs. In fact, the latest research shows that climbing stairs may be the most effective way to burn up calories and strengthen the heart no matter how much time you may have for jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis, or just about anything else Americans take up to shape up. And a British study, for one, found that regularly climbing stairs was directly associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, climbing stairs burns up 250 percent more calories than swimming for the same amount of time, 150 percent more than tennis, 150 percent more than bowling, 94 percent more than racquetball, 63 percent more than cycling, 23 percent more than running and 400 percent more than walking at two miles per hour. That means, for example, a 175-pound man walking up stairs for ten minutes will burn 202 calories while the same man running at a speed of seven miles an hour for ten minutes will burn only 164 calories.

An overweight person can lose up to twelve pounds by climbing two flights of stairs a day for a year provided, of course, that the climber doesnt eat more when he or she gets upstairs. Only strenuous activities such as dragging logs and sprinting seem to burn up more energy per minute than climbing stairs. And most important, regular stair climbing is also a beneficial augmentative exercise in a vigorous cardiovascular workout but dont overdo it.

The real beauty of climbing stairs for exercise is that most persons can do it as part of their normal, daily routine. All they have to do is skip rides on elevators and escalators. There is no need to buy special shoes or clothes, or join a club. You can do your climbing in your home or apartment or a department store. And unlike joggers, you dont have to worry about traffic and snappish dogs.Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger (Bantam Dell)See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.
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