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July 25, 2022

Stair climbing improves balance, endurance, and fall prevention.

Stair climbing is one of the best ways to improve balance, build stamina, and keep from falling.


A man climbing stairs

One of the best ways to tell if you're healthy is if you can climb a flight of stairs. It's often used to see how mobile and strong you are, how fit you are after an injury, and if it's safe to have sex again after a heart attack. But climbing stairs has a lot more to offer.

Michelle Munley, a physical therapist at Harvard's Spaulding Outpatient Center Peabody, says, "Stair climbing is a great all-around form of exercise for older people because it works multiple muscle groups at once, like your quadriceps, glutes, and calves." It also improves your cardiovascular strength and endurance. " "You can stay more active in life if you know how to go up and down stairs in a safe way."

Going up and down

There are many places to practice climbing stairs, from stair machines in the gym, to stairs in stairways and stadiums, to simple stairs in your own home.

It doesn't matter what kind of stairs you have, but keep in mind that not all steps are the same height, depth, or surface. Also, stairs without handrails are harder to use and may be more dangerous. Munley says, "Pick stairs in a comfortable place with steps you feel safe going up and down."

Also, going down the stairs is equally as vital as going up. When you walk up the stairs, your glutes and quadriceps do concentric contractions, which means they get shorter. When you walk down, on the other hand, the muscles do the opposite, which is called an eccentric, or lengthening, contraction. "Both movements are necessary for muscles to be strong and work well," says Munley.

Before starting a stair-climbing program, you should talk to your doctor, especially if you have had heart problems, orthopaedic problems, or trouble with your balance or mobility. Also, practice step-ups to get used to the movement of climbing stairs (see "Taking small steps"). When you're ready, you can try these three workouts that use a stair-climbing machine in a gym, steps with rails outside, or in your own home.

steadily going up. Set a stair-climbing machine to a speed and level of resistance that is comfortable for you, and climb for five to ten minutes. As needed, slow down or speed up. Try to add more minutes, resistance, or both as time goes on.

Intervals As a warm-up, start the stair machine at a speed that feels good. Increase your speed or resistance until you reach a moderate level of effort (about 5–7 on a scale of 1–10) and climb for 1–2 minutes. Then turn it back down to a comfortable level and climb for two minutes, or as long as it takes for your heart rate to go down. For the next 10 to 20 minutes, keep switching between the two speeds.

You can be outside or inside. Choose a safe stairway with a rail to help you keep your balance. Set your watch or phone's timer for five to ten minutes and walk up and down one or two flights at a steady pace. As you get better, try to climb faster, without using a rail, or up more flights at once.

Always keep good posture when climbing stairs. Put the whole sole of your foot on the step. Don't climb on your toes, because that can put too much strain on your calves. If you need support or balance, hold onto rails or machine handles, but don't pull yourself forward. As you get better, you can climb stairs without holding on or use steps without rails, like those in a stadium, to test yourself.

The only way you can walk on a stair-climbing machine is up. So Munley suggests that you add leg press machine exercises to your stair climbing workout. These exercises are similar to what your legs do when you walk downstairs.

"Climbing stairs can be a hard and intense workout, so start slowly, don't rush, and take breaks when you need to," says Munley.

Taking small steps

Step-up exercises are a good way to get ready to climb stairs. Here, you step up and down using only one step, either on a real step or a piece of equipment called a step-up platform. (These platforms are wider and deeper than most steps, making them easier to use, and the height can be changed.) Most gyms have them, but you can also buy them online or at sports stores. Physical therapist Michelle Munley from Harvard's Spaulding Outpatient Center Peabody says, "The motion of step-ups is like climbing stairs, but with less effort." They can help people build up their strength and endurance before they move on to regular stair climbing. " "And some people who are nervous about climbing 12 steps can feel better when they only see one step."

Reference: Harvard Health

Also read: RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH FALLING IN OLDER PEOPLE

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No Health content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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