I am always urging you to find creative ways to fit some extra movement and activity into your day. But even I sometimes feel that phrases like “take the stairs instead of the elevator” or “park farther away in the parking lot” have been overused. Yet as I perused a past fitness section of The New York Times, I read an article titled “Great Workout, Forget the View” that once again validated the fact that every step counts. You don’t necessarily need to spend a bunch of money to get some exercise, just a good set of stairs and maybe a few friends.
The article is about stair climbing as a means of exercise, and it starts with an inspiring story about a 59-year-old New Yorker who many years ago accepted an invitation from two co-workers at his office to take a walk to the top of the 10-floor building during their lunch hour. “He was breathing heavily by the time he got there,” it reads, “but was hooked: He had found his workout for free.” Today, the man climbs the stairs 10 times in one hour all five days of the work week … and not surprisingly, he reports his waist size and weight are the same as when he was 17! Let this be proof that something as simple as climbing the stairs at work each day can produce weight loss results.
More words of wisdom from the article: “Stairs are everywhere, but they are rarely taken seriously as an option for getting in shape.” When I was in college, running up the stairs of the stadium was a popular workout among fitness-minded students. It’s nice to have treadmills and elliptical machines and full-service health clubs, but I still think it’s a good idea to remind ourselves that walking or running up something as simple as stairs can also get your heart pumping and your muscles working. Just a quick 20-minute workout over your lunch break could become a 200-calorie burn!
Find a flight of stairs and try a few of my stair-climbing tricks:
1. Interval stepping: Run up at a fast pace to the top of the stairs and walk down slowly for recovery. Repeat as many times as you can.
2. Skip a step: As you climb to the top, skip every other step. To engage more legs, buns and core, try not to hold on to the railing.
3. Steps and Elevated Push-ups: Walk up and down the flight of steps and do 10 push-ups at the bottom before repeating. Get into full push-up position and place your hands up several steps from the bottom to make it an elevated plank position … then drop and give me 10!
Certainly, walking or running up stairs may not be for everyone, but next time you are at the mall or movie theater or doctor’s office and there is a well-lit, safe stairwell, opt for the stairs and get your heart pumping a little bit more!