In the past week, I’ve been climbing up and down the five flights of stairs at work once or twice each day. Initially, I was inspired by a co-worker who I saw coming out of a stairwell one day during the summer. But the final push to do it regularly came from a Swiss study released last week and reported in the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
The small study found that people who walked up and down stairs for three months dramatically increased their level of fitness (and who doesn’t want to do that!). Researchers say the improvement in aerobic capacity was equivalent to a 15 percent fall in the risk of dying prematurely from any cause. They suggest that stair-climbing at work may have major public health implications.
For the study, researchers from the University Hospital of Geneva recruited 77 colleagues with sedentary lifestyles, meaning they did less than two hours exercise each week. Over 12 weeks they were asked to use the stairs exclusively instead of taking the elevators. The average number of floors they went up and down each day increased from five to 23. (I still need to add a few flights.)
After three months, treadmill tests showed their aerobic capacity—the amount of oxygen the body can use—had increased by almost nine percent. They also saw marked reduction in other known risk factors for heart disease, including waist size, body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The results of this Swiss study were presented at a recent meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.
Of course some workplace stairwells are more inviting than others. Do you take the stairs at your work?
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