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What Are the Benefits of Stair Climbers?

by
author image Carol Ann
Known as the trainers' trainer, Carol Ann, has become one of the country's leading fitness educators. Combining national fitness certifications and a master's degree in exercise science from Middle Tennessee State University, she has achieved a 20-year career in the fitness industry. As the owner of Studio Group X Inc., she provides cutting edge personal training, consulting, freelance writing and speaking engagements.
What Are the Benefits of Stair Climbers?
Climb stairs to get fit. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Since being introduced to the fitness industry in 1983, the stair climber has become one of the most popular pieces of exercise equipment in both gyms and homes. Along with the stair climber’s physical features of convenience including the controlled environment, water bottle holder and electronic display of data (step tracking, heart rate, time elapsed and number of burned calories), there are many health and fitness benefits that keep people climbing.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

Stair climbing increases the heart rate and ventilation, thereby speeding up the oxygen uptake of the working muscles. If performed on a regular basis, stair climbing decreases the time it takes for oxygen-rich blood to reach the working muscles improving one’s cardiovascular endurance. This cardiovascular conditioning improves one’s overall ability to sustain prolong periods of daily activities.

Muscle Conditioning

Stair climbers provide resistance for the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves enabling one to sculpt and lean out the lower part of the body. Many motorized stair climbers allow an individual to control the resistance of the movement. One should choose a stair climber that has independent pedal action that forces one to push down and lift up the leg working both the front and back of the leg. Dependent pedal action requires pushing down on one pedal to raise the other pedal. This action is less effective working the muscles in only one direction.

Efficient Workout

Because exercising on the stair climber involves both cardio performance and resistance movement, stair climbing combines two workouts into one reducing the amount of time spent exercising. In the June 15, 2009, edition of 'The New York Times', Dr. Harvey Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, reported that researchers in Canada determined stair climbing to be more demanding than both walking on a level surface and lifting weights. After having tested 17 healthy males with an average age of 64 years, the researchers determined that stair climbing was twice as difficult as walking briskly and 50 percent more difficult than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. In addition, peak exertion was attained faster in stair climbing than walking or lifting weights allowing one to complete his workout faster to attain the same results. Depending upon weight, an individual can burn approximately 300 calories in 30 minutes.

Metabolic Rate

Stair climbing trains the larger muscles of the body including the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings, which is key in managing fat. The body’s resting metabolic rate increases when slight resistance of the stair climber is applied to work these larger muscles of the body. This resistance increases lean muscle tissue, which is metabolically active tissue, thereby increasing the amount of calories you burn at rest. Also, stair climbing increases the number of mitochondria (“the powerhouse of the cell”) within the cells of the body. Increasing mitochondria is important because, these organelles contain all of the enzymes associated with aerobic energy production and control fat burning at rest.

Low Impact with Versatility

Stair climbing is a natural, easy, low impact activity that is gentle on the knees, ankles and back. Stair climbing is an effective method of exercising for those who maybe injured, overweight, pregnant or just beginning an exercise program. Although the stair climber is low impact, you do not have to sacrifice exercise intensity. The versatility of the stair climber allows even the fitness enthusiast to apply the workout to her fitness level without the risk of injury to the joints. Many motorized stair climbers feature different workout programs such as interval training, aerobic training, hills, and sprints to optimize the workout, reduce boredom and keep people coming back for more.

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