get your exercise, people who exercise, up stairs

Exercise is considered essential for good health, but many people say they just don’t have enough time during a busy workday to go for a hike, bike or visit the gym. At the end of the week, they may have done little if any vigorous activity. Can you get your exercise without devoting hours to it?

Packing Exercise into 10 Minutes a Day:

Canadian researchers have come up with an alternative that can be done almost anywhere and does not require much time. Stair climbing can provide substantial cardiovascular benefits at home, at work or doing errands.

What the Study Showed:

In the study, 31 healthy women not accustomed to exercise tested two different ten-minute protocols. Those ten minutes included warm up and cool down time as well as exercise and catch-your-breath time. The sessions were held three times a week for six weeks.

In one experiment, the women climbed stairs as fast as they could for 20 seconds. This was repeated twice. In the second experiment, they climbed a flight of stairs quickly for 60 seconds.

As the researchers point out, either exercise approach would be easy to replicate at home. Both protocols improved cardiorespiratory fitness significantly in six weeks, with 30 minutes a week devoted to the exercise. Pick one of these, and it might be a great, time-saving way to get your exercise.

Allison et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, online Dec. 26, 2016, Feb. 2017 

High-Intensity Interval Training:

This research offers a variation on high-intensity interval training. This approach, known as HIIT, has been popularized by one of the scientists conducting the study, Dr. Martin Gibala, as The One Minute Workout. You can read more about his approach in this report by Gretchen Reynolds for The New York Times. As she says, you no longer have an excuse not to get your exercise every day. The original studies Dr. Gibala and his colleagues conducted used stationary bicycles, but stairs are easier to find. All of us who have stairs near their home or office can now practice what the women in the study did.

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  1. Bob
    Charleston, WV

    Hi, I am Bob. I live in Charleston, WV. I am 84 years old. I have been doing exercises for 62 years. I don’t waste time going and coming from the gym. I don’t pound my knees to a pulp running on concrete (I do do some walking). I do my exercises at home.

    I got started at the age of 32 (1964) with what then was known at the Canadian Airforce exercises. I do them three times a week. They take approximately 30 minutes. I warm up with arm-swinging windmill-style, bend-overs … touching my toes 10 x; swing my feet back and forth 20 x for leg blood flow).

    Then I do 25 squats, 15 quad pulls. Next I do one-leg-forward, one-leg-back moving back and forth 20 x each leg. Then l lay on my back and do breath control … holding my breath for 12 seconds six times. Next, laying on my back, I left me legs up and down 25 x. Next comes the “hurdle stretch” 10 x each leg. Then I do 50 x shallow pushups,

    Now running in place … I do 100 x slow, 100 x faster and 50 x as fast as I can. Next, jumping jacks …15 x. Now back to running in place … 100 x, 100 x, 50 x. Next an achilles heel exercise … “boxers dance” on toes/heel (up/down) … 25 x each leg.

    Now with a 15 lb weight … 25 x curls each arms; left lift weight overhead 15 x; with arm straight down, left weight to midsection, with elbow back … do 15 x, 10x and 5x. Repeat with other arm. Next do the “spider crawl” walking fingers up a wall … 15 x each arm. Hey, now your off the next day for a little rest.

    Doing these exercises will keep you stronger, more supple and in better shape in general. And you’ll feel better physically and mentally. If you miss some days, or more (on vacation) don’t worry. When you start again … “your back.” It only takes discipline and the the will to “stay young.” With good eating habits and exercise I weigh the same as I did when I got out of the U.S. Army in 1954. I am 5-9 and weigh 158 pounds. And I’m a happy guy!

    Good luck to all.

  2. Mick
    N Y

    I read something similar to this in the 80’s in a Durk Pearson, Life Extension book. Not new, but more excepted now.

  3. Sara

    I think this approach is not likely to work for the long haul, short as the duration is. There is no intrinsic fun or enjoyment in climbing stairs, and people would have to be VERY motivated to persist in doing it. Most would stop after a few weeks of effort. A better approach is to find some sort of movement that is enjoyable for its own sake, like dancing or even gardening. If it’s fun, you’ll keep doing it.

  4. LM

    It should be noted — in CAPS and BOLD LETTERS — that this type of workout is NOT for anyone with HIP, KNEE, CORE, or BACK injury/weakness/pain.

  5. Melanie

    I am a little confused about what they did. This says: In one experiment, the women climbed stairs as fast as they could for 20 seconds. This was repeated twice. In the second experiment, they climbed a flight of stairs quickly for 60 seconds.

    Is that the full exertion time in the 20 minute workout period?

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