Whether it’s the parent who steps into the first floor of the office building, the teenager who enters the ground level of the mall, or the traveler who opens the door to the hotel lobby – everyone is given a choice: the elevator or the stairs? If you’re like many people not fueled up on morning coffee yet or exhausted at the end of a long day, the elevator seems like the sure choice. But it is not the choice that will improve your overall health! Simply switching to taking the stairs, an activity that can fit into your daily routine and at no added cost, has shown to provide significant health benefits.
In a study published in the European Heart Journal, 69 hospital employees categorized as having a sedentary lifestyle were instructed to use the stairs exclusively for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks the average health benefits of the participants were as following:
- Lung Capacity: up 8.6%
- Body Fat: down 1.7%
- Waist Circumference: down 1.8%
- Diastolic blood pressure: down 2.3%
- LDL (bad) cholesterol: down 3.9%
Although taking the elevator may be a lot easier, taking the stairs is a better way to get fit and stay in shape.
Here are 4 reasons why you should incorporate stairs into your daily routine:
1. Tone Legs and Firm Butt: as you walk up the stairs, every muscle in your legs is used to move your body upward. In particular your thighs and calves are targeted. The lifting motion of your legs also tightens and strengthens your glutes, working that buttocks hard!
2. Increase Blood Flow: walking the stairs is an aerobic activity that increases circulation in your legs. Improved blood circulation is associated with reduced risks of stroke, blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
3. Burn Calories: the calories you burn choosing to take the stairs instead of ride of the elevator can adds up over time. Walking up the stairs at a moderate intensity burns 5 calories per minute for a 120 pound person, 7 calories per minute for a 150 pound person, and 9 calories per minute for a 180 pound person.
4. Reduce Pain: sitting for long periods of time as well as age can lead to increased joint pain. Incorporating stairs into your daily routine can help alleviate stress placed on your joints by making your joints stronger and more flexible.
Keep these reasons in mind the next time you’re faced with the choice, elevator or stairs. Remember that by simply taking the stairs, you are choosing to “STEP UP” your health.
Research Assistance provided by Marsi Shapiro