Are you trying to burn more calories without spending more time at the gym? If your answer is yes, then get yourself to the nearest set of stairs!
Walking up and down the stairs is great exercise and burns calories. You can burn about 300 calories for 30 minutes of walking the stairs depending on the intensity of your workout. But, beware, 30 minutes is a lot of time to spend walking up and down stairs. It is hard work.
I used to take an exercise class where the instructor would have us walk up and down about 10 flights of stairs. Everyone was exhausted by the time we were finished.
The advantages of walking the stairs?
There are many:
- You can walk the stairs anywhere there are stairs – offices, homes, stores
- We all know how to do it, no special training is needed
- No special equipment is needed, though if you are going to walk up multiple flights as exercise you need good shoes. I used to walk the stairs at work in high heels, but it was only for a floor or two. I had some scary moments, especially going down stairs where I almost catapulted myself over the edge a few times.
- You can do this exercise in short spurts. If you only have time to run a report up to a colleague two floors up from you that still counts as exercise even if you do not take the stairs again for another couple of hours.
- Stair climbing will exercise your legs particularly your quadriceps (front of the thighs) and your butt.
- Your heart will get a good workout
- It is low impact and safe for your knee joints
- If you are walking stairs at a public facility make sure the stairs are safe, clean, well-ventilated and have enough light.
Stairwells in public buildings can hide a wide variety of nasty smells and icky things.
- Let someone know if you are going to be taking an exercise break at work to walk the stairs for 10 or 15 minutes. That way if something happens, whether an injury or getting locked out, someone will notice if you are not back at your desk.
- Take your time, especially coming down the stairs and make sure you hold on to the railing for balance.
- Make sure the doors don’t lock behind you and that you can get out of the stairwell when you want. I walked down the stairs at work only to find that the bottom three floors had doors that locked and could not be opened from the stairwell so I had to walk all the way back up again. Aside from the inconvenience it caused a few moments of panic. I thought I would be in the stairwell until the next fire drill.
- Beware if you have knee problems, walking down stairs may cause pain. If your knees bother you going down stairs you can take the elevator down and walk back up or walk down one flight and walk around the floor, go down another flight and walk around that floor, etc. Giving yourself a little break every few minutes is easier on your knees than running down the stairs in one spurt of activity.
After your stair walking make sure you stretch your quads, hamstrings and calves. Those are the parts of your body that will work the hardest climbing stairs.
There is a Canadian web-site which will show you how many calories you burn going up and down the stairs. It will inspire you to step out of the elevator and on to the stairs.
Since most of us no longer smoke and water coolers are a thing of the past take a break from staring at your computer and take an exercise break to go walk the stairs. You will be surprised by what good exercise it is and just keep thinking about all those calories you are burning.