Climbing the stairs is one of the most practical and effective ways to boost heart health and burn fat. It can also be a great way to strength train. Stair climbing can be a more challenging approach to fitness but it can also be the most effective.
Have you ever tried taking the stairs of a high-rise building in downtown Melbourne instead of taking the lift?
How many flights of stairs were you able to reach before you felt out of breath? For some people, they cannot reach the first three floors of a building without ever panting at the end of the stairs. Others may fare better. They may reach up to the fifth or sixth floor.
Now try climbing the stairs in a hurry. You will reduce the number of floors you will be able to reach without panting. You will also feel your lower body shaking or trembling. This occurs because the muscles are not getting enough oxygen.
Your heart will have to pump a lot harder to supply oxygen to these tissues. As you tax the heart, it will try to compensate by enlarging its muscle fibres. This makes the heart capable of supplying oxygen without having to increase the number of times it needs to pump.
Stair climbing also puts a lot of strain on the legs. Your lower limbs will do most of the work. They have to lift your body towards the next step. They work against gravity. It is very different from walking or running, where the body moves parallel to the ground.
Stair climbing moves the body at an incline. There is more tension in the leg muscles as they try to move and lift the body at the same time.
This tension leads to an increase in the size of the different muscles of the lower limbs. These include the calves, the hamstring, the glutes, and the quads.
Climbing the stairs can also challenge your unilateral strength. As you move one leg up, the other leg has to maintain balance and stability.
It requires the glutes and quadriceps muscles of the standing leg to be strong. This will help you maintain your stance and minimise the risk of falling. If you complete this movement in rapid succession, you will be able to strengthen the muscles.
The beauty of stair climbing is that you can also increase the challenges to further optimise the benefits. For example, you can integrate stair climbing to your high intensity interval training. You can also climb up a pair of steps at a time.
Adding pushups at the top of each flight of stairs can also offer you enough challenge to improve your overall fitness. You can strength train, too. Perform biceps curls as you climb up or down the stairs.
Stair climbing challenges every muscle in your body. From the heart to the skeletal muscles, climbing will push these muscles to the limit. It also challenges the body’s ability to maintain coordination and balance. These can all lead to a substantial improvement in one’s health.