Need a Low-Cost Way to Lose Weight? Consider Taking the Stairs

Monthly gym membership fees will put a dent in your wallet. Exercise programs – those you see advertised on late-night TV with multiple exercise DVDs and diet plans – don’t come cheap, either. All you really need to lose weight, strengthen your cardiovascular system and get some definition to your muscles is a flight of stairs.

Stair climbing for health: It isn’t just a fad,

Climbing stairs as a form of exercise isn’t new. Remember the movie “Rocky” and Sylvester Stallone’s triumphant jog up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Going back further in history, consider the regular climb Buddha made to his favorite meditation retreat, Vulture Peak. It gives the activity a whole Zen body-mind-spirit quality. As a sport, stair-climbing became popular a decade ago when groups sprung up to form clubs and competitions around the activity.

The health benefits of stair climbing

You don’t need to race up the Empire State Building to derive benefits from stair climbing. If you work in a multi-storied building, you may simply opt to bypass the elevator and take the stairs. Even the stairs in your home will do. It is more effective than other cardio exercises such as walking, running or cycling, because it requires you to move your body weight vertically in defiance of gravity. The benefits of stair-climbing are multiple:

  • You don’t need to purchase special equipment
  • You can achieve the American Heart Association’s 30-minute a day recommendation for exercise over the course of the day
  • Stair-climbing burns eight to 11 calories per minute, which is high compared to other moderate level exercises
  • Stair-climbing will increase your aerobic capacity
  • It can increase bone density, an important consideration for post-menopausal women
  • Climbing stairs can increase your HDL (the good) cholesterol levels
  • It targets the lower body — building strength in your legs and hips will cut your risk of injury from a fall as you age

Starting a stair climbing program

If you’ve been leading a sedentary life, it is best to start out slow. As you build strength and endurance, pick up the pace and the amount of time you stair climb. You may want to complete a 30-minute workout in one session or work in three 10-minute sessions throughout the day. The benefits are the same. Keep your back straight as you climb the stairs. Hunching your shoulders can put an unhealthy strain on your back. Use the handrails only as needed for balance. As you become stronger, your balance will improve.

Incorporate a nutrition plan with your stair climbing program for weight loss

Exercise is only part of the equation when you want to lose weight. Calculate the number of calories your body requires each day.  Several online calorie calculators are available that will provide an estimate. To lose one pound a week, subtract 500 from this number. Limit your caloric intake to this amount.

If cutting back on your food intake leaves you with uncomfortable hunger pangs, try supplementing your diet with a fiber such as blond psyllium, which will help fill your stomach by adding bulk. Blond psyllium is also an effective digestive aid and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Another supplement you may want to consider is alpha-lipoic acid, ALA. According to a Spanish Study, ALA, an antioxidant, can speed up metabolism and, when taken as part of a reduced calorie diet plan, promote weight loss.