Every 36 seconds, someone dies from cardiovascular disease in the United States. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in our country (1). Heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems become more common every year. And as more and more people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes and obesity, the number of people at risk of heart disease continues to grow.
Now, more than ever, your heart health should be your top priority. Many people know that eating right – especially staying away from sugary drinks and fatty foods that clog your arteries – and exercising regularly are key in keeping your heart healthy. But it turns out, certain exercises are better for your heart than others.
Stairclimbing is one of the best exercises for your heart – even if you’ve suffered from heart disease in the past! It’s a fast way to improve heart and muscle fitness and give you a great workout as well.
It’s hard to know exactly how healthy your heart is. But, researchers from Spain have recently found a simple and free way to test your heart health. Anyone can do it, and it takes just a few minutes. All you need is a couple flights of stairs.
To do the “stairs test” all you need to do is see how long it takes you to climb four flights of stairs. Researchers discovered that if you can do it in less than 60 seconds, your heart is in good shape. But, “if it takes you more than one and a half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal,” and you should consult a doctor. (2)
Obviously, this is only a starting point for discovering how well your heart is working, but even so, it’s a great quick test that can tell you a lot about your heart. So, if you’re feeling up to it, head over to your nearest high rise building or apartment building (or anywhere with stairs) and try out the stairs test for yourself.
If you have suffered a heart attack or heart disease, researchers have found that stairclimbing is a great exercise for you! It could even be a great alternative for going to the gym. Researcher Maureen MacDonald says, “stair climbing is a safe, efficient and feasible option for cardiac rehabilitation.” (3)
In their research, they found that stairclimbing was just as effective as traditional exercise in patients with coronary artery disease and even those who had undergone a cardiac surgery. Researchers said that there were notable improvements in heart health and muscle. Stairclimbing repairs and builds heart muscle, even for people who have had heart problems in the past.
If you have experienced heart problems in the past, it’s always a great idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new workout routine, and always start slow in order to build up muscle and stamina.
Even if you aren’t at risk of heart disease, stairclimbing can be a great exercise for you – even better than a morning walk! According to Harvard Medical School, “stair climbing burns twice the calories of walking, and it strengthens your heart, lungs, and muscles.” (4)
Stairclimbing is a great way to get your heart pumping, and a great way to build muscle in your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs and calves. It’s a great HIIT activity too, so even a shorter 15-minute workout will be enough to get you sweating and get your heart pounding.
Here’s some great workout ideas you can incorporate into your stair workouts:
If you walk around your neighborhood or city, you’ll probably be able to find some stairs without looking too hard. Some great places to look are nearby parks, multi-story parking garages, high-school football stadiums, or college campuses. If you really can’t find any, check out this website called publicstairs.com, they’ve made a database of major public outdoor stairways around the world.
If you don’t have stairs nearby your home or would rather workout inside, the stair climber at your gym is another great option. However, if you’re looking for a machine that will really give you an awesome hybrid stairclimbing workout, check out the ProForm Pro HIIT H14.
This elliptical-like machine has a ten-inch vertical stepping path, which makes you feel like you’re stair climbing. But that’s not all. It also adds punching actions to add upper body movement to your stair workout. Basically, the purpose behind the combination is to mimic stair climbing and boxing at the same time, activating essentially every muscle in your body. It’s really the ultimate HIIT machine.
The ProForm Pro HIIT H14 is a great machine for you if you want to burn more calories and build more strength, but without hurting or putting too much strain on your joints. It’s a great way to get all the benefits of stairclimbing, but without the pounding of actually hitting the pavement stairs over and over again.
This machine is a great option, but if you’re still wondering which HIIT machine is right for you, check out this article to find other options that will help you achieve your fitness goals.
2 How Fast Can You Climb 4 Flights of Stairs?
3 Stair Climbing Improves Heart Health for Heart Patients
4 Harvard Health: Fast Way to Improve Heart and Muscle Fitness