Stair Climbing offers a free and fast route to cardiovascular fitness!

The benefits of stair climbing really are endless. According to Best Health Magazine, even short bouts of the exercise can greatly benefit cardiovascular health. A 2000 study published in Preventative Medicine monitored the health of 22 sedentary college-age women who began climbing stairs progressively over seven weeks. By the end of the study, these women were found to have reduced heart rates, oxygen update and blood lactate levels uptake while climbing. Their HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels had also increased (


Stair climbing is also a great exercise to add to your weight-loss fitness regime! Not only does it burn more calories than running, it also helps build muscle, tone your lower body and strengthen your core. This is because, with stair climbing, your muscles are forced to resist gravity and move in a vertical pattern. In addition, your muscles must stabilize and balance, which puts even more demand on the muscles in the lower body (

This amazing workout is also readily available and not dependent on good weather conditions. There is also no special equipment required, and it can be incorporated into your daily life. How convenient is that?

Stair-Climbing Basics

  • Check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have health-related issues that could be aggravated by exercise
  • Carry a water bottle or have access to water while climbing
  • Wear running shoes or walking shoes that provide your foot with adequate support
  • Consider using a heart-rate monitor to gauge the intensity of your workout
  • Use a staircase in your home or high school stadium stairs as a substitute for an office tower (The Costco Connection).

Getting Started

It’s very important that, when just starting out, you go slow. Take your time getting up the stairs, and start with shorter sessions. Start with 10 minute sessions three times per week of stair climbing and slowly build up to more time as your endurance increases. Over time, build up to 30 minute sessions of stair climbing to reap the most benefits from this exercise. You may also wish to do a quick warm-up of skipping or jumping jacks before you start your climb (

It’s important to note that going down the stairs can be very strenuous on the joints and muscles. Carleton University Mail Services Manager, Ainsley Zeisner is a Dunton Tower stair climber and, after going up and down the stairs on a daily basis, started noticing stress in her knee joints. She began taking the elevator down during her stair climbing workouts and saw a huge difference in the way her joints felt.

Be sure to keep note of how your body is feeling after each stair climbing session, paying close attention to any pain that you may experience in the knees, back, hips or ankles, and alter your workout if necessary.

Happy climbing!

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