Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Why Should I Take the Stairs?

Photo by Bruno Nascimento

Everybody knows how hard it is to take the stairs, especially when there is an elevator you can ride up to the floor you want to reach. A lot of fitness trackers track flights of stairs climbed in an attempt to motivate us to do better. Many work places have put up signs asking their employees to take the stairs as part of a workplace wellness program. So, what is it that “taking the stairs” can do?

Strengthens muscles

  • Stair-climbing exercises engage more muscles than walking, jogging or running on flat surface
  • Engages gluteal muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, hip flexors, all the abdominal muscles, and lower back
  • Tones and sculpts your body such as butt, thighs, and calves
  • By strengthening leg muscles and joints, improves overall function with daily activities
  • Activates the spine and reduces the risk of knee, leg and ankle injuries.

Burns calories

You can lose about 0.17 calories while climbing up and 0.05 calories while climbing down a single step which translates to about 1 calorie for every 10 steps climbed up and 1 calorie for every 20 steps you go down.

Makes you feel good

Any exercise in general causes your body to release more endorphins, which helps you feel good. Climbing stairs does the same. In addition, it helps to build strength and endurance, regulate sleep, promotes healthy weight loss. With all this, there can be an improvement of self-esteem and confidence.

Heart health

Helps balance, reduces fall risk

Improves longevity

In a study published in 2019 by the Harvard Health Alumni Study, researchers noted an association between climbing a higher number of floors and lower mortality from all causes. The study found that even climbing 10 to 19 flights a week can reduce mortality risk.

Stair-climbing is safe exercise for most healthy people that is actually free and requires no specific equipment or training, just a pair of great shoes!