Tip of the Week: Take the stairs in your building

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December 4, 2014- By Steven E. Greer, MD

With it now being too cold to bike or walk, many people are becoming reconditioned (like me). Try this: Take the elevator to your apartment, but stop ten floors short, then walk up the stairs.

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One Response to Tip of the Week: Take the stairs in your building

  1. Barry Hauptman says:

    See full article link at end.

    Climbing to health

    Walking on streets and trails is superb for health. And so is walking up stairs.

    Coaches, cardiologists, and housewives have long been in on the secret of stairs. Many football coaches “ask” their players to charge up flight after flight of stadium steps to get in shape, and other competitive athletes put gymnasium stairwells to similar use. In the days before stress testing held sway, doctors would often walk up stairs with their patients to check out cardiopulmonary function. Even today, cardiologists tell heart patients they are fit enough to have sex if they can walk up two or three flights comfortably, and surgeons may clear patients for lung operations if they can manage five or six flights. As for housewives, taking care of a two- or three-story home is one reason American women outlive their husbands by an average of more than five years.

    What’s so special about stairs? Researchers in Canada answered the question by monitoring 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 while they walked, lifted weights, or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level and 50% harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. And peak exertion was attained much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why nearly everyone huffs and puffs going upstairs, at least until the “second wind” kicks in after a few flights.

    Because stairs are so taxing, only the very young at heart should attempt to charge up long flights. But at a slow, steady pace, stairs can be a health plus for the rest of us. Begin modestly with a flight or two, and then add more as you improve. Take the stairs whenever you can; if you have a long way to go, walk part way, and then switch to an elevator. Use the railing for balance and security (especially going down), and don’t try the stairs after a heavy meal or if you feel unwell.

    Even at a slow pace, you’ll burn calories two to three times faster climbing stairs than walking briskly on the level. The Harvard Alumni Study found that men who average at least eight flights a day enjoy a 33% lower mortality rate than men who are sedentary — and that’s even better than the 22% lower death rate men earned by walking 1.3 miles a day.

    See https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/harvard_mens_health_watch/2009/august/walking-your-steps-to-health

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