All You Need For Heart Health Is 30 Minutes A Week And Some Stairs, New Study Says
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Here’s some good news for the gym averse — the latest research says you can get a heart-healthy cardio boost just by taking the stairs.
Dr. Martin Gibala, of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and his team released a new study looking at how exercisers can get the most from their workouts with the least amount of effort, which is basically everyone’s dream.
They found that all you need is a set of stairs and 30 minutes a week to get the same cardiovascular results from cycling for the same period of time. The study included 31 healthy but sedentary women who worked out for 10 minutes a day, three times a week over the course of six weeks.
In the first test, participants climbed stairs in 20-second sessions of continuous “all-out” effort. Their results were then compared to participants who followed the same routine on an exercise bike. For the second test, subjects climbed up and down one flight of stairs in 60-second intervals. Each routine included a warm up, cool down and recovery time. Researchers found that both climbing experiments improved cardiorespiratory fitness in six weeks, similarly to cycling-based workouts.
“Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour,” says Martin Gibala, professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, in a statement. “This research takes interval training out of the lab and makes it accessible to everyone.”
The authors note in the paper that stair climbing is a practical form of sprint interval training (SIT). Characterized by short, intermittent bursts of intense exercise broken up by periods of low-intensity recovery, SIT has become popular among fitness enthusiasts as science supports it as an efficient workout alternative to longer, endurance training. According to the American Academy of Sports Medicine, interval training actually burns more calories than traditional exercise.
“Interval training offers a convenient way to fit exercise into your life, rather than having to structure your life around exercise,” says Gibala, who’s dedicated more than a decade to researching high-intensity interval training.