Is Stair Climbing Good Exercise for Hips?

healthy lifestyle asian woman running at stairs seaside
A runner works on stair climbing exercises. (Image: lzf/iStock/Getty Images)

Stair climbing is an exercise that uses your natural body weight to tone muscles in the hips, buttocks and thighs. Weight-bearing aerobic activities such as stair climbing can help reduce the rate of bone loss while providing cardiovascular benefits. Although stair climbing exercises and machines offer benefits for healthy individuals, they may be ineffective or dangerous if you are suffering from a hip injury.

Basics

Stair climbing is a popular choice among exercisers seeking to combine cardiovascular and strength-training elements. Stair climbing works the quadriceps and gluteus hip muscles by repeatedly lifting the legs against the natural resistance of your body weight. The aerobic part of the stair-climbing exercise causes calories to be burned at a quicker rate as your hip, thigh and buttocks muscles gradually increase in mass.

Benefits

Stair climbing can help prevent osteoporosis by developing denser, stronger bones. As your muscles pull against the bones of your hips and sternum, the bones gradually increase in size, slowing the gradual rate of bone loss that occurs with old age. Stair climbing is also a potent aerobic exercise, burning 500 to 700 calories an hour, according to the Nutristrategy web resource.

Complications

Although stair climbing is generally safe for healthy individuals, Bruce Anderson of the Up To Date website suggests avoiding the exercise if you are currently experiencing hip pain or suffering from hip bursitis. Hip bursitis is a condition that causes the lubricating fluid sacs covering the hip joint to become irritated and inflamed. If you are experiencing pain, avoid the stair-climbing exercise and ask your doctor for advice.

Stair Stepper

The stair stepper is an exercise machine that offers a steady flow of steps to climb. Stair steppers are manufactured by a variety of different companies, and generally offer a number of difficulty levels and timer settings so that you can personalize your hip and thigh exercise. This machine offers added resistance, allowing you to accelerate the strength training in your hips. For best results, select a slight elevation for your first attempt at a stair stepper and gradually increase the resistance as you become stronger.

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