Save time, get fit: take the stairs

By: Canadian Living
Canadian Living

Save time, get fit: take the stairs

By: Canadian Living

How long are you willing to wait for an elevator?

According to a recent study by a team of doctors in Saskatchewan you could save up to 15 minutes a day by taking the stairs instead. The research was published in the “Holiday Readings” section of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, an annual segment reserved for “quirky research, humorous satires and witty musings.”

Four staffers at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon took a total of 56 walking trips and 336 elevator trips. The results? It took twice as long – 37.5 seconds – to get to the chosen floor by elevator versus the stairs.

While the study does have its limitations – only four participants; a 7-storey hospital is quite different than a 50-floor office building – it also makes a good point: sometimes it’s just easier to walk.

A straight flight of stairs, at Porta Garibald...
Climbing stairs: good for your health…and your time (image via Wikipedia)

Here are 5 more reasons why you should hit the stairwell:

• It’s a free workout. With no special equipment required, it’s the cheapest way to burn off some calories. And it's an easy way to sneak some exercise into your day.

• It can be a full-body workout. Last year the Globe and Mail reported on a study from Italy that showed how to amp up your climb:

“Among the notable insights of the Italian study is that using the handrails to haul yourself up turns the activity into a full-body workout much like rowing, resulting in a “global, maximal effort.” About 80 per cent of the power you exert goes to raising your body against the force of gravity; 5 per cent goes to whipping your limbs back and forth, and the remaining 15 per cent goes toward running tiny semi-circles at each landing."

• It can prolong your life. According to a three-month-long British study published in 2008, volunteers who regularly used the stairs instead of the elevator showed improved lung capacity, blood pressure and cholesterol readings. Their weight, body fat and waist measurements also dropped. What does that all mean? Researchers suggested these improvements decrease a person's chances of dying young by 15 per cent.

• It’s good for your HDL Yep, active stair climbers can improve their amount of “good” cholesterol.

• It’s a calorie killer. Check this stat out: by walking up stairs you burn almost 700 per cent the number of calories you'd burn twiddling your thumbs in an elevator.

Do you make it a habit of choosing the stairs over the elevator? And what is your stairs threshold – how many flights are you willing to walk up or down instead of taking the elevator?

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Save time, get fit: take the stairs