ELEMENTS OF HEALTH: Should you be climbing stairs?

ELEMENTS OF HEALTH: Should you be climbing stairs?


Stair climbing typically burns more calories than a traditional walk and increases your ability of burning fat. It is crucial to understand both the benefits as well as the risks of “taking the stairs” to maximize your healthy and fit lifestyle.

It is a standing fact that your heart, lungs, waist, and hips can all benefit from climbing stairs. Training on a level surface doing walking type intervals is obviously quite safe, and can be done virtually anywhere as well. Stair climbing takes you fat burning, muscle building, and flexibility to another level, in very brief training time.


Stair climbing offers a variety of benefits to your overall health. The vigorous and continuous movement of your legs and hips results in deeper breathing and increases your heartbeat, which enhances blood flow to all areas of your body. Your body releases natural pain relievers, or endorphins, during a stair climb, so you’ll feel better and have less tension. Going up, takes your stress DOWN. Doctors also recommend stair climbing as an ideal way to improve your energy, increase the function of your immune system and lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Burning Fat

Harvard Medical School reports that stair climbing is an effective way to burn fat and keep it off, since people who walk up stairs, even at a slower pace, burn calories three times faster than when walking at a faster speed on a normal surface! This is a crucial element for those with limited training, MORE for LESS. A workout on the stairs also provides maximum challenge for people who already maintain good fitness, including football players and other athletes, since the activity is estimated to be twice as vigorous as lifting weights or walking on a steep incline. Wearing weighted vests, and doing stair intervals can also be muscle building, not only aerobic.

How much do you need, how much do you want?

“Fitness experts” usually recommend between 30 and 60 minutes of aerobic activity three to five days every week in order to gain the most health benefits. With stair climbing, be it running up and walking down, or steady paced walking, you can cut your workout time to 20 to 30 minutes and create some very impressive results. Start at a slow pace and aim to walk only a few flights until your body feels ready for an increased challenge. Protect your feet during stair workouts by wearing shoes with a firm heel, thick soles and sufficient arch support and aim to spend at least five minutes walking normally at a slow pace to warm your muscles. Consider alternating your stair climbing with aerobic methods like bike riding or swimming in order to prevent muscle overuse and limit joint strain. Cross training with weightlifting is a fantastic way to build muscle as your effectively burning fat too.

Why Not…

While stair climbing offers a variety of health benefits, the vigorous activity may be unsafe for people with heart conditions, as well as for those with knee, hip or ankle problems. Discuss stair climbing with your doctor in advance of any activity and lower your risk for injury by using the railing for balance. Use extreme caution when traveling downward, as your knees and ankles are subjected to stress that equals at least six times your normal body weight.

If you are safe to use stairs in your training, Do IT! It’s free, frequent, and fabulous.

Combining faith, fitness, and athletic performance to deliver 40 years as a recognized expert in the field of fitness and athletic performance, Carter has spent his career as a personal trainer and strength coach. He has helped his clients create optimal health and peak performance including nine contestants from NBC’s Biggest Loser TV Show as they prepared for their live season finale. “My training system has been utilized by professional athletes, celebrities, and award winning recording artists to maximize their physical potential.”

Carter is currently a partner and head trainer/strength coach for Music City Fitness in Brentwood TN, as well as a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Speaker, and Trainer.

Elements of Health is sponsored by Elements Massage of Franklin, Tennessee. It is located at 539 Cool Springs Boulevard, Suite 140 Franklin, Tennessee 37067. You can contact the studio at (615) 771-0003 or visit their website here.

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