Step by Step – Taking the Stairs

Do you take the stairs or the elevator? The thing I like about stair workouts is that the act of climbing stairs is so practical. What I don’t like, well the huffing and puffing when I haven’t been doing it.

It’s easy to feel like you’re making progress when there are stairs that make you huff and puff. And then a few weeks/months later, you notice that it doesn’t even effect you at all to go up the stairs.

When I was actively trying to lose weight, I felt a huge “non-scale” victory when I realized that I just had run up some stairs without even thinking about it or realizing that I ran up them.

Some friends of mine went on a major hike last summer to the White Mountains on the Appalachian Trail. Some of them practiced on these stairs in the Cleveland Metroparks that over look the Rocky River.

There are several reasons why a stair workout is a good idea:

  • Stairs are good for you
  • You can build up to them
  • Stairs or steps are everywhere
  • Stairs work the glutes, hamstrings and calves.
  • They provide a great feeling of accomplishment
  • It’s natural workout, not something that you don’t do in real life

Things to be cautious about:

  • If you wear eyeglasses with progressive bifocals, try not to look down when you walk down
  • It’s fair to use the hand rail, in fact a good idea. You don’t want a “quick trip” down or up!
  • Your heart will really start to beat quickly. On the way up, it’s okay to pause on a landing to catch your breath.
  • It’s a good idea to step aside, if someone is behind you to let them pass.
  • Don’t try to do it all at once, better to build up your stamina over time.

From age 35 to 50 I was definitely an elevator taker. I often looked for an elevator. If there was no elevator, my attitude was “oh boy, here we go!”(not in a good way.) It wasn’t until I turned 50 and decided I was going to get into shape that I embraced the stairs.

At first when I turned 50, I decided to get started on the Stairmaster at the gym. That didn’t last long. I found it was too boring and too much effort to get dressed in my workout clothes, drive to the gym and then only be able to accomplish 5 minutes or so on the Stairmaster. Of course, I put it on the highest level. Not the best idea.

I found better success by using stairs right near me.

Taking the three flights of stairs everyday in my office building became part of my new routine. I would park in the spot farthest away from the door and then take the 3 flights up to the office. If I was going to use the restroom, I’d go to the first floor and walk back up to the office. At lunch I’d do another set or two. Soon I was doing about 15 flights a day.

I got the idea because I used to regularly do 12 floors in college. The Kent State library was the tallest building around at 177 feet. Every day I’d walk by the library several times between classes and my dorm. After a while, I’d just walk in and do the stairs. After a while, I could do all 12 floors. Not a big deal in my late teens and early 20’s. I found that it was a great stress relief.

Of course, I’m not always near a tall building, but one set of stairs still works. I live in a one story house and the laundry is in the basement. My FitBit has a 10 floor goal. Okay, I’ll agree that is a lot of laundry to do each day, but I have found that just loading the washer is one, switching to dryer is two and bringing up from the basement is three. So, if I turn around and go up and down two more times for each one trip, I can just about get my goal pretty easily. Plus clean the cat box each morning which is also in the basement. And boom, I’ve got my 10 stair steps.

Where are stairs near you? Do you use them to do a “natural” work out?

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