Written by Vijay Thakkar
One of the most preventable risk factors for developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, joint pain and cancer is weight gain. And that can easily be solved with physical activity and the WHO recommending a minimum movement criterion of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of the two per week.
While the debate is about how many steps to take while walking, one of the most accessible and robust activities requiring minimal skill that you should do to improve your overall cardiovascular health and become active is hill climbing. stairs.
WHY CLIMB THE STAIRS?
Climbing stairs is now an internationally recognized workout and considered a kind of vertical training, where you push your body against gravity. Just walk or run, depending on individual ability, flights of stairs. In fact, according to the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health” (March 2020), running is an organized, competitive sport where athletes run up the stairs of high-rise buildings.
This can be done by avoiding elevators and escalators and using the building stairs, or it can also be done on the exercise equipment in the gym. Climbing stairs regularly can overcome the muscle loss and physical weakness that comes with aging. This activity is also suitable for promoting weight loss. However, alleviating lifestyle issues also depends on factors such as your general lifestyle, dietary habits, health status, and exercise frequency and intensity. Separate studies in men and women showed that those who climbed stairs daily reduced their risk of metabolic syndrome. Moreover, it also releases endorphins and boosts your energy level.
BENEFITS OF CLIMBING STAIRS
First, climbing stairs is great because it tones major lower body muscle groups, such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Second, stair climbing can be done in different cardiovascular training zones ranging from zone 2 to zone 5. You can determine your training zone based on your health and fitness goals by calculating it at from your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is your age subtracted from 220. MHR is measured in beats per minute (BPM). Zone 2 trains in the range of 60-70% of your MHR, and this zone will be between 111-130 BPM.
As climbing stairs improves metabolic health, which means reducing the risk of heart disease, it activates your cardiorespiratory system and makes it resilient.
In longevity research, scientists have found that climbing stairs in zone 2 helps improve our body’s ability to burn body fat and blood sugar for fuel and improves the health of powerhouses that provide energy to each of the 3.7 trillion cells in our body. Interestingly, these powerhouses are known as cellular mitochondria. Climbing stairs in zone 2 increases their numbers through the process of mitochondrial biogenesis, which helps us stay high energy and keep our organs functioning optimally even as we age.
In the long term, mitochondrial biosynthesis contributes enormously to reducing the risk of hyperinsulinemia, which is strongly associated with the risk of developing excess weight and diabetes in later years.
Additionally, climbing stairs in Zone 2 is a beneficial form of low to moderate intensity activity. It is generally considered safe and can be maintained for longer durations, making it an excellent choice for people with low fitness levels who aspire to improve their overall health. It is advisable to aim for at least 35 minutes of stair climbing per week to reap the health benefits. However, it may be less effective in improving physical strength.
Fortunately, climbing stairs at vigorous Zone 5 intensity intervals can improve muscle strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. Zone 5 means training at 90-100% MHR with a heart rate ranging from 167-185 BPM for up to 2 minutes.
A NOTE OF CAUTION
A caveat, however, is that training in Zone 5 should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare expert with proper monitoring tools such as a heart rate monitor and EKG. Stair climbing in zone 2, with short duration transitions to higher zones between 0 and 3 minutes, is known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which has recently gained enormous popularity. popularity for its ability to improve overall health and fitness. However, this may not be suitable for everyone, as it can be more strenuous with a higher risk of injury.
In conclusion, climbing stairs is a beneficial form of exercise that can help overcome lifestyle-related illnesses. However, the frequency and intensity of activity should be tailored to the individual’s health status, personal preferences and fitness goals. It is always advisable to consult a fitness professional to determine an appropriate program for each individual.