An Easy Way to Exercise--Right Now

We know. We know. You have no time to exercise and even less interest. But you know you should exercise, right?

What if you could exercise in very short bouts while you're at work, on your lunch hour or doing chores around the house?

You can. Just run up and down the stairs.

Very short, but intense, bouts of stair climbing--which can be done basically anywhere for free--have major benefits for heart health. You don't need to join a gym. You don't need to find an hour a day for exercise. You just have to take the stairs with force and vigor, according to Canadian researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Climbing stairs with such purpose is just like sprint interval training, which are brief bursts of vigorous exercise separated by short periods of recovery, that serious gym rats and runners do.

The study: Led by Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster, the team recruited 31 healthy women, all of whom led a sedentary lifestyle. Two protocols were tested, each of which required a 10-minute time commitment, including warm-up, cool down and recovery periods.

The exercise sessions were conducted three times a week over the course of six weeks.

The first protocol involved three, 20-second bouts of continuous climbing in an "all-out" manner. The results were then compared and contrasted to participants who ran through the same protocol using an exercise bike which has already been shown to improve fitness.

For the second experiment, participants vigorously climbed up and down one flight of stairs for periods of 60 seconds, an experiment which could be easily adopted for the home.

The results: Both protocols, each involving a total time commitment of 30 minutes a week, increased cardiorespiratory fitness, an important healthy marker that is linked to longevity.

Translation: Stair climbing is an effective and time-efficient alternative for improving heart health. It fits exercise into your life, rather than having to structure your life around exercise.

The study findings were published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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