Study Reveals Stair Climbing Boosts Overall Health

A new study has found that a few minutes dedicated to climbing stairs can improve overall health. Such short exercise bouts at intervals, if done daily, can boost cardiovascular health. New researches show that a person’s heart can be protected from future ischemic episodes by an acute period of physical activity. It has been further seen that even 10 minutes of exercise can lead to better cognitive flexibility, stronger memory and improve concentration power, among other benefits. Cardiorespiratory health can be improved by climbing stairs for a few minutes, separated by recovery periods in between.

Prof Martin Gibala, the new study’s senior author, along with his team investigated if sprint interval training- meaning short bursts of intense physical activity for a total of about 10 minutes with few minutes of recovery period in between- can lead to improved cardiorespiratory fitness, which refers to ability of vascular system, lungs and heart to deliver blood rich in oxygen to working muscles during intense exercise. Greater respiratory fitness means lower premature death risk, better insulin resistance and improved cardiovascular health.

A dozen of sedentary young individuals participated in the study, which required them to climb 3 flights stairs thrice every day, separated by recovery periods of 1-4 hours. They continued to engage in the regimen thrice every week for a period of 6 weeks. The control group consisted of a dozen age-matched sedentary people who did not exercise. The authors reported better cardiorespiratory fitness in the climbers after the intervention period ended. They were also reported to be stronger and better performers at maximal cycling tests. Assistant professor, Jonathan Little, said that the results of stair snacking approach was surprisingly pleasant. Prof Gibala then added that the findings should make it easier for people to have ‘exercise snacks’ in the middle of their day.

The team plans on testing effects of different exercise ‘snacking’ regimens while changing the recovery interval durations and how that affects blood sugar and blood pressure in the future.

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