Everybody knows that walking from the TV to the fridge does not qualify as exercise, and those few steps to the mailbox don’t do the trick either, when it comes to staying fit. But by the same token it is also a fallacy to believe that only the work-out in the gym will reap benefits and improve aerobic capacity. According to Dr. Philippe Meyer and colleagues at Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, the mundane task of taking the stairs can show statistically significant changes in aerobic capacity, decrease in body weight, decrease in fat mass, waist circumference, decrease in diastolic blood pressure and increase in heart healthy HDL cholesterol. Dr. Meyer asked 77 healthy hospital workers including 20 physicians to exclusively use the stairs at the 12-storey hospital. During this 12 week quest for more fitness promotional signs encouraged stair climbing. All of those 77 participants were a sedentary group of individuals. Nevertheless they had to walk…the cafeteria was on the twelfth floor! At the baseline the participants walked up and down an average of 4.5 storeys per day, and at the end of the twelve weeks they were walking about 20.6 storeys per day.
The tangible results showed that aerobic capacity and fat mass remained significantly improved, even though the participants walked less storeys after 12 weeks. It seems that initial change of habits-walking instead of taking the elevator- had made the difference in the transformation from couch potato to more active individual.
Stair climbing is an excellent exercise for healthy individuals in the general population. This high intensity exercise cannot be recommended to heart patients that are not entirely stable or to a patient who has angina. In these cases caution and a supervised exercise program is needed.
More information about fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/
The Medical Post, November 18, 2008, page 17
Last updated Nov. 6, 2014