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What Climbing Stairs Can Tell You About Your Health

By HERWriter
 
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What Climbing Stairs Can Tell You About Your Health

Even the most fit people are fit in their own ways.

For example, a yoga teacher may have horrible cardiovascular endurance. A marathon runner may lack upper body strength. A Cross Fit champion may have poor hamstring flexibility.

There are only so many hours in the day and when you include rest days, nutrition and, well, life, it can be hard to fit it all in.

I used to teach yoga at a gym and I would see the personal trainers conduct various fitness tests. Even the most avid exercisers would not hit every mark. There always had to be a place to go or a new ambition.

It can be all about the chase.

As we get older, exercise inevitably becomes different because life itself changes. We may realize that life is fast enough without needing to add any more speed. We may have joints that have suggested that gentle is the way to go.

If we are lucky enough to get older, this is par for the course.

How can we test our fitness at each stage? Apparently, all we need are some flights of stairs (and of course, doctor's permission if our body is one that isn't used to stairs).

See if you can climb four flights of stairs in under a minute at a brisk pace. If you can do so without stopping, you have good functional capacity. Functional capacity is measured in METs or metabolic equivalents. 1 MET is what is required to sit in front of a computer (a skill many of us are adept at). 10 METs – high performance treadmill activity – is what is “good” functional capacity. (1) Without a treadmill and monitoring, stairs are the best bet for most of us.

Sounds simple enough, but four flights without holding onto the handrail or without a pause can be a stretch for many. If your fitness is far from those 10 METs, the suggestion is that you need more exercise.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado says that the exercise he would suggest is 30 minutes a day of “breathlessness.” (2)

“Exercise is, in fact, probably one of the best treatments for virtually almost every disease out there,” Freeman said. (3)

 

1.     Klein, Sarah. This Simple Stair Test Could Predict Your Risk Of Dying. Health. https://www.health.com/fitness/stair-test-longevity    Retrieved 23 January 2019.

2.     Stair test may predict your risk of dying of heart disease, cancer, study finds. Today Show.  https://www.today.com/health/how-live-longer-stair-test-may-predict-longevity-death-risk-t144556    Retrieved 23 January 2019.

3.     How Quickly You Climb Stairs Can Indicate How Long You Will Live. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-quickly-you-can-climb-four-flights-of-stairs-may-indicate-how-long-youll-live  Retrieved 23 January 2019.

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4.     Women And Heart Disease. Heart And Stroke Foundation. https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/what-is-heart-disease/types-of-heart-disease/women-and-heart-disease   Retrieved 23 January 2019.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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