Tag Archives: stair climbing

Stair Climbing is Good For You – Part Two – ACSM

Two days ago I wrote “Stair Climbing is Good for You” which talked about the value of this often overlooked exercise. At least overlooked by me.

I was impressed with the exercise, but wasn’t sure about whether or not descending stairs was a valuable part of it or potentially harmful. Some friends who do it said that they take the elevator down after they walk up because they don’t want to damage their knees. Also, a personal trainer friend (who has a titanium knee) said not to walk down stairs, only up.

stair-climbingSo, I asked around and the American College of Sports Medicine sent my post to one of their experts.

Here is what David R. Bassett, Jr., Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies Senior Associate Editor, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Senior Editor, Research Digest, The University of
Tennessee had to say: “This blog post is mostly accurate. One thing that is not 100% accurate is the statement that stair climbing burns more calories than running. This COULD be a true statement, but it is not generally true. It depends on the rate of stair-climbing and the speed of running on the level. The energy cost of running is: running 6 mph (9.8 Metabolic Equivalent of Task  (METs), running 7 mph (11.0 METs), running 8 mph (11.8 METs), running 9 mph (12.8 METs), running 10 mph (14.5 METs). The cost of stair climbing has been measured at a slow pace (4.0 METs), at a fast pace (8.8 METs). We did a study where we measured the energy cost of stair climbing at 70 steps/min and found it to be 8.6 METs. Stair-climbing could get up to 15 METs, but that would almost require jogging up the stairs.

“Regarding the question of whether walking downstairs is beneficial, the energy cost of descending stairs is about one-third that of ascending stairs, so from a caloric standpoint descending stairs is not nearly as beneficial as ascending stairs. The impact forces of descending are probably greater, which would increase bone loading. Another difference is that the quadriceps muscles are contracting eccentrically, as opposed to concentrically, when descending stairs. What this means is that the thigh muscles are performing a lengthening contraction, as opposed to the more typical shortening contraction. This could lead to muscle soreness if done for extended periods of time, but over time your muscles would adapt and you would be able to do the activity with little or no soreness.”

I got the statement about the value of stair climbing vs. running from Run Society, but neglected to include them as the source. I have since included that citation along with a link in the original.

Thanks to Professor Bassett for his observations.

For more on this important topic, check out: Stair climbing is good for you – Part Three – ACSM.


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Filed under running, Uncategorized, Weight

How Good Are Mini Exercise Sessions?

A very commonly heard reason (excuse) for not exercising is I just don’t have the time. Everybody finds themselves working longer hours these days. That’s one of the explanations for the increased productivity we hear so much about. Businesses cut jobs and reallocate the work among the remaining employees. I get it. You are likely to be working longer hours now than you ever have in your life. But there are solutions for curtailed free time.


One of the basic facts of healthy living that you need to know is that exercise is not optional. You need to do it. If you aren’t getting some kind of exercise, you are on a fast track to big time medical problems. Being overweight and under exercised is a prayer to an unkind god that will be answered in a way that does not make you happy.

One of the basic principles of healthy living is that you can break exercise up into smaller segments. Your body needs 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Besides providing much-needed work for your muscles and cardiovascular system, exercise also helps to lower your LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and raises your HDL cholesterol (the good one).

You can break up your 30 minute exercise requirement into 10 minute segments three times a day and still get the benefit of 30 minutes of exercise.

Remember there are lots of ways you can do exercise without going to the health club. Park the car at the far end of the lot and walk the rest of the way to work, shopping mall or supermarket.

If you work or live in a high rise building, take the stairs for the last few flights. Stair climbing is a super exercise to get your heart going. You are using the big muscles in your legs to lift your body and pump your blood around your circulatory system. I have written a number of posts on the benefits of stair climbing: Stair climbing is good for you – Part One, Stair climbing is good for you – Part Two, Stair climbing is good for you – Part Three and Stair climbing is good for you – Part Four.

Get going on these mini exercise segments and remember to be kind to yourself. If you only get in two instead of three, do it again tomorrow. Two is better than none.



Filed under aging, Exercise, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, overweight, Weight