Whether you choose to run up and down the stairs at your local stadium or use a stair climber machine at the gym, hitting the stairs is a good way to get a workout.
Climbing stairs is low impact so it's relatively easy on your feet, ankles, knees and hips — ideal if you are overweight or have joint issues normally made worse by high-impact activities like running or jumping. Stair climbing improves cardiovascular health and builds bone and muscles.
Stair climbing improves heart and lung health with the added benefit of toned leg muscles.
Getting Your Heart Pumping
Climbing stairs is a cardiovascular exercise, meaning it works your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Stair climbing causes your breathing and heart rate to increase, supplying oxygenated blood to your leg muscles so they can keep moving.
Fitness is closely linked to cardiovascular health, so regular stair climbing workouts can help reduce your chances of suffering coronary heart disease, strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure. If you have a history of cardiovascular illness, consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Terrific Toned Thighs
Climbing stairs provides your entire lower body with an effective workout. Take two steps at a time, and the increased intensity will really kick your workout up a notch.
Stair climbing works all of your major lower-body muscles, including glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Strengthened gluteal muscles have the added benefit of making your butt look toned and firm.
Bulk Up Your Bones
Stair climbing is a weight-bearing exercise and as such will strengthen your bones. Bone density tends to decline with age and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak bones prone to fracture.
Climbing stairs means the bones of your lower body must work to support your weight, and that extra load will trigger an increase in bone-building cell activity.
Control Your Weight
Climbing stairs, either for exercise or simply because you decide to skip the elevator, can help you control your weight by burning more calories. For a 120-pound person, stair climbing burns 168 calories when performed for 30 minutes.
If you don't have enough time for a full workout, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible to burn a few extra calories throughout the day.
Additional Stair Exercises
Stair climbing doesn't always have to be performed in the traditional sense. In fact, there are several ways to work out with stair exercises. Step up sideways to strengthen additional hip muscles. Stand with your feet staggered two steps apart and perform lunges. Hop up the stairs to further challenge your leg muscles.
Your upper body can also get a workout using the stairs. Tricep dips tone the back of your arms. With your back to the stairs, place your palms on the front of a step with your fingertips over the edge. Straighten your legs out in front of you. Bend your elbows to lower yourself down; then press back up.
Stair pushups also tone your arms. Stand at the bottom of the stairs and place your hands on a step at shoulder height. From a plank position, slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest as far as possible; then press back up.