Many people, especially those who live in congested cities, work in office
tower blocks. They use the elevator every day of their lives to get from the
ground to whatever floor their office is on.
Still others use elevators in department stores, apartment towers and so on.
Forget the elevator and take the stairs, because climbing stairs is one of the
most effective forms of aerobic exercise that you can ever do.
This was clearly proven by a British study some ten years ago, when
researchers discovered that for averagely sedentary people, just a few
minutes climbing the stairs every day demonstrably improved their
This study was of particular interest because it supported the idea that
taking several short spurts of exercise every day will make a significant
difference to your health (hence the idea that you can walk for ten minutes a day three times, rather than just one thirty minute session).
The study required 20 college aged women who lived relatively sedentary
lives to climb up 200 steps in less than two and a half minutes. This represented a ‘brisk but comfortable’ pace according to the researchers
conducting the study, but the first time that they did it, it nevertheless
served to shoot the test subjects’ heart rates up to around 90% of the
anticipated maximum heart rate.
Despite this, the test subjects moved from making one climb per day during
the first week to six per day in the sixth and seventh weeks. This therefore meant that the test subjects were climbing stairs for around thirteen and a half minutes per day by the conclusion of the test, which (in case the point is not clear) represents less than a quarter of an hour of reasonably rigorous exercise every day.
By the end of this relatively modest (and completely free) exercise program,
the women being tested were measurably fitter than they had been before.
Every indicator had improved significantly. Their heart rate immediately
after the climb had decreased markedly and their breathing had slowed as
well, indicating that they needed to take in less oxygen to ‘fuel’ their efforts.
On the other hand, their HDL levels had increased, which is a good thing,
because high-density lipoprotein is also sometimes known as ‘good’
cholesterol. High levels of HDL in the blood seem to play a role in reducing
the risk of heart attack, while low levels seem to do the opposite by
increasing the risk of heart disease.
It is clear just how effective climbing the stairs can be as exercise, and it is
even more so if you take the stairs that you are climbing two at a time.
This significantly increases the work that your leg muscles have to do, and
that in itself increases the aerobic effects of your exercise by a noticeable
You do not have to exercise for hours at a time to enjoy the benefits that a
‘work-out’ will bring. Less than 15 minutes of stair climbing a day will
improve your overall aerobic health significantly, and will cost you nothing at all.
So, the next time you go to the office or the department store and feel
tempted to get into a packed, hot and sweaty elevator, think about it for a
moment. Does that really seem like a better option than giving your whole body a good workout?