Exercise 101: Stair-climbing
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, yet many of the associated risk factors are preventable. Controlling for certain risk factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and smoking could significantly reduce the prevalence of the disease.
Regular physical activity not only directly reduces your cardiovascular risk, it can also favorably affect your other risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol profile, glucose levels, and weight. In addition, making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle will help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, making the system operate more efficiently. It can also boost your energy level and enhance your self-esteem.
Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise increases your fitness level and can help to prevent cardiovascular disease. It can also help reduce blood pressure and prevent diabetes and obesity. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week. You can even accumulate your 30 minutes in 10 to 15 minute increments if you are short on time.
Typical aerobic exercises include the following:
Read on to find out more about stair-climbing.
Climbing stairs is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness because you can incorporate it throughout your day while at home, running errands, or at the gym on a stair-climbing machine. This will allow you to collectively expend extra calories throughout the day while strengthening your thigh muscles, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles.
A note of caution: When coming down a flight of stairs remember to place your foot on a slight angle (in terms of foot placement on the step) so your knees do not go too far over your toes.
Exercise Technique for Using a Stair-climber
Begin with two sessions per week of stair-climbing. Following a 5-8 minute gradual warm-up begin with low intensity stair-climbing for 10-15 minutes. Add five minutes (when able) per week. After three weeks, progress to three times per week for 20-30 minutes at a moderate intensity.
After each workout, stretch the hip flexors, thigh, hamstrings, and your calf muscles. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds.
Consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.
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Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
Provincial Fitness Unit of Alberta
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Last reviewed May 2011 by Brian Randall, MD