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Articles Fitness Nutrition

Why Runners Love Stairs

Dec 26, 2009

Runners know the value of an intense workout. So do most people who are trying to increase their health and fitness through cardio exercise. There are many reasons why adding stair climbing or even stair running to your work out is a good idea. Here we look at a few of them.

Anywhere, Anytime

There are very few places you can go in today's world and not find stairs. They're where you work and where you play, and they're in your own home. It doesn't even cost anything to use them. But when used right, they can provide every bit as good a workout as a gym membership. They even have a superiority over another free and accessible exercise, road running. In blistering heat, you can find stairs coolly air conditioned, even in the middle of the day. Similarly, the dead of winter won't slow stair runners down either. Because they're so easy to find, you hardly need to set aside special time to use them. Fifteen minutes on your lunch hour, and you've got a workout.

High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT is loved by many people who are serious about fitness. It means doing an extremely difficult short interval of exercise, followed by a much less difficult interval. Stair running fits the bill perfectly. Sixty to ninety seconds running up two flights will raise your heart rate to a high level, even when followed by a ninety second jog back down the stairs. This should go on for about 15 minutes. The idea is to give your body such a highly intense workout that it takes the rest of the day to recover. HIIT raises resting metabolism, meaning you'll burn more fat throughout the day, even when not exercising.

Muscle Sculpting

The fact is, if you have strong legs, the rest of your life is going to be a little bit easier. Stair running strengthens your legs like no other exercise can. As intense a workout as running is, it doesn't force your muscles to fight gravity. Stair climbing works the same groups of muscles as running, but in a different way. This is an excellent way to vary your workout, even if you're not in the same caliber as full fledged marathon runners. You might notice the results most intensely in your calves, the muscles that seem to be doing the most work when climbing. But stair climbing works all your leg muscles, from calves clear up to glutes.

Calories Burned

The fat burning potential of stair climbing is tremendous. Walking up stairs can burn 500 calories an hour. Running up stairs can burn as much as 1000 calories an hour, though it can't be recommended that anyone run up stairs for an hour. Even short increments of stair usage throughout the day increase calories burned. Use stairs whenever the opportunity presents itself. Even using them instead of the elevator four times a day around your office building will make a difference.

Don't be discouraged when you see that mountain of stairs rising above you. Every step is calories burned and muscles strengthened. Stairs are an excellent way to add intensity to your workout, intensity that leads to results.

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