Have you ever noticed your heart rate is elevated after walking up a flight of stairs? That's because stair climbing is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that also helps tone your lower body. When paired with a healthy diet, you can try walking up steps to lose weight and get in shape.
Walking up stairs is a great form of exercise, especially when you do so at a brisk pace to get your heart rate up and your body working hard. Over time, incorporating stair climbing into your workout routine with a healthy diet can help you lose weight.
Stairs for Weight Loss
Looking to hit the stairs for weight loss? It might not be as simple as you think. When it comes to losing weight in a healthy way, two things must align. You must consume a nutritious diet consistently and get in an adequate amount of cardiovascular exercise each week.
According to the American Heart Association, that means at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. The good news? Both can be achieved by climbing 10 flights of stairs a day.
If you are looking for a vigorous form of exercise, you can easily turn stair climbing into high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a proven way to burn calories more efficiently than steady-state exercise. Try running up one to three flights of stairs and then walking down slowly to recover. Repeat, up and down, for your desired amount of time. For beginners, aim for 20 minutes.
If you are seeking an advanced HIIT stair workout, try skipping steps on your way up or adding a weighted vest for an added challenge.
Read more: Hate HIIT? You'll Love These 7 Workouts
While running up stairs is a tough and intense form of exercise, simply walking up steps has major benefits as well. Harvard Health Publishing reports that, even at a slow pace, you can burn calories two to three times faster climbing stairs than walking briskly on a level ground. This means that taking the stairs whenever possible is always a better option if your goal is to burn more calories throughout the day and shed pounds. In other words, climbing 10 flights of stairs a day can pay off in the form of a slimmer physique.
Personal trainers caution that walking up steps to lose weight isn't a guarantee. In order to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you are consuming. That's why it's important to follow a healthy diet, too. A balanced diet is just as important (if not more so) than completing your weekly workouts.
Read more: How to Train for a Stair Climbing Event
Stair Climbing: Other Perks
When it comes to climbing stairs for weight loss, consistency is key. An early 2019 study conducted by McMaster University showed that even short "snacks" of stair climbing throughout the day can have a positive impact on your overall health. The benefits of climbing 10 flights of stairs a day include toning your legs and butt, improved mood (with that amazing endorphin release) and improved cardiovascular health overall, which lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Perhaps one of the most underrated benefits of climbing 10 flights of stairs a day is that it's completely free, assuming you can find an indoor or outdoor staircase to use. But if you don't have access to a great staircase, you can also look for a gym with a stair climbing machine. Not only are these machines equally beneficial, they also provide settings that suit your specific needs. You can plug in settings for a slow, moderate climb or you can set the machine to provide an interval workout of short bursts of intense work, followed by recovery.
- American Heart Association: “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults”
- American Council on Exercise: “8 Reasons HIIT Workouts are So Effective”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Walking: Your Steps to Health”
- McMaster University: Exercise ‘snacks’ make fitness easier: "Researchers Find Short Bouts of Stairclimbing Throughout the Day Can Boost Health"