The fast health benefits of taking the stairs

Are you an elevator person or do you take the stairs?

I used to be that person who’d wait and wait and wait for a slow elevator to make it to the ground floor before I’d walk a single flight of stairs.

Not anymore…

In the long run, it may take me longer to climb three flights than hitch a ride, but once I learned how quickly I could increase my longevity by improving just about all of the factors that team up for metabolic syndrome, everything changed…

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Stair climbing can help you live longer

A few years ago, I wrote about how stair climbing blows all your “exercise excuses” out of the water:

  • Stairs are already installed in many homes, or outside, ready and waiting.
  • You don’t need any special workout gear.
  • You don’t need to go outside in the heat, cold or rain.
  • You can even work this exercise routine into your busy daily schedule.

Now, a large-scale meta-analysis (review of past research) has confirmed everything I said back then — and then some.

British researchers looked at study data from about 480,000 participants, ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-80s, about half of whom were women.  

They analyzed participants’ risk of heart disease based on factors that included blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking history, and family and genetic risk factors. Participants also reported on their lifestyle and exercise habits, including stair climbing, via questionnaire.

Over the course of 12 years, those who reported climbing stairs regularly had about a 39 percent lower likelihood of death from heart disease, compared to those who didn’t take the stairs. They also had a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.

And, it’s important to note that people who stopped climbing stairs during this time saw their risk of heart disease rise — a reminder that consistency is crucial if you’re going to benefit from exercise.

How much stair climbing is enough? Two studies in the meta-analysis pointed to the ideal number of flights a day: one found that climbing six to ten flights a day was linked to a reduced risk of premature death; the other found that climbing more than five flights a day lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

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Stair climbing’s benefits happen fast

The last thing you should know is that the benefits of stair climbing can kick in pretty quickly. A recent review found that your cardiometabolic risk can improve in as little as four to eight weeks.

This same study found that stair climbing can improve body composition, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity — all factors that if left to progress can result in metabolic syndrome.

Climbing stairs is classified as “moderate physical activity,” right along with playing tennis or badminton, walking at 4 miles per hour, or biking at 10 miles per hour.

But a really cool thing about stair climbing is that it’s a mix of aerobic exercise and resistance training — and that means it can build muscle.

According to Dr. Carlin Long, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, “You are building up those leg muscles by having to pull your weight up to the next stair.” 

This is a key benefit given that only 24 percent of adults in the U.S. meet the recommended targets for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise.

So why not get started now? Put on some music and start climbing!

Editor’s note: There are perfectly safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and other secrets of long-lived hearts, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


Elevator or stairs? Your choice could boost longevity, study finds —  NPR/Maine Public

Stair climbing and mortality: a prospective cohort study from the UK Biobank — Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle

Daily stair climbing, disease susceptibility, and risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: A prospective cohort study —  Atherosclerosis

Stair-climbing interventions on cardio-metabolic outcomes in adults: A scoping review —  Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.