After walking, climbing stairs can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, help you lose weight, and add years to your life

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 recommends a minimum physical activity criterion of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or a combination of the two per week.

While the debate rages on about how many steps to take when walking, stair climbing is one of the most accessible, robust activities that require a minimum level of skill that you should perform to improve your overall cardiovascular health and get active.


Stair climbing is now an internationally recognized workout and is seen as a type of vertical workout where you push your body up against gravity. All you have to do is walk or run stairs, depending on your individual capacity. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (March 2020), tower skating is an organized competitive sport in which athletes run up the stairs of tall buildings.

This can be accomplished by avoiding the elevators and escalators and taking the building’s stairs, or it can also be done on exercise machines in the gym. Climbing stairs regularly can overcome muscle wasting and physical weakness that comes with aging. This activity is also good for promoting weight loss. However, alleviating lifestyle problems also depends on factors such as your general lifestyle, dietary habits, health status, and the frequency and intensity of physical activity. Separate studies in men and women have shown that those who climb stairs daily reduced their chances of developing metabolic syndrome. It also releases endorphins and boosts your energy levels.


First, stair climbing is excellent because it strengthens key muscle groups in the lower body, such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Second, stair climbing can be performed in different zones of cardiovascular exercise, ranging from zone 2 to zone 5. You can determine your training zone based on your health and fitness goals by calculating it 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 heart rate and this zone ranges from 111-130 BPM.

Because stair climbing improves metabolic health, which means it lowers your risk of heart disease, it trains your cardiorespiratory system and makes it more 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 promotes the health of the power plants that power each of the 3.7 trillion cells in our body supply energy. Interestingly, these powerhouses are known as the cell’s mitochondria. Climbing stairs in Zone 2 increases their numbers through the process of mitochondrial biogenesis, which helps us remain very energetic even as we age and keeps our organs functioning at their best.

In the long term, mitochondrial biosynthesis contributes enormously to reducing the risk of hyperinsulinemia, which is strongly associated with the risk of developing obesity and diabetes in later years.

Additionally, in Zone 2, climbing stairs is a beneficial form of low-to-moderate-intensity activity. It is generally considered safe and can be sustained for long periods of time, making it an excellent choice for those of lower fitness looking to improve their overall health. In order to achieve health-promoting effects, it is advisable to aim for at least 35 minutes of stair climbing per week. 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% of MHR with a heart rate of 167-185 BPM for no more than 2 minutes.


A note of caution, however, is that Zone 5 training should only be undertaken under the supervision of a health professional with proper monitoring tools such as a heart rate monitor and an electrocardiogram monitor. Climbing stairs in zone 2 with short transitions to higher zones between 0 and 3 minutes is known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which has gained tremendous popularity recently for its ability to improve overall health and fitness. However, it may not be suitable for everyone as it can be more strenuous and carry a higher risk of injury.

Conclusion: Climbing stairs is a beneficial form of exercise that can help to overcome lifestyle diseases. However, the frequency and intensity of activity must be tailored to an individual’s health status, personal preferences, and fitness goals. It is always advisable to consult a fitness professional to establish an appropriate program for each individual.

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