Brief, intense stair climbing may boost heart health

Toronto: Too lazy to exercise or too busy to hit the gym? Try climbing stairs. A new study has suggested that short, intense bursts of climbing stairs, which can be done anywhere, may improve the health of your heart and can lead to long life.

“Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour,” said lead author Martin Gibala, Professor at McMaster University in Canada.

Previous studies have proven the benefits of vigorous stair climbing over sustained periods of time — up to 70 minutes a week.

But, in the new study, scientists set out to determine if sprint interval training (SIT), which involves brief bursts of vigorous exercise separated by short periods of recovery, was an effective and time-efficient alternative for improving cardiorespiratory fitness.

“Interval training offers a convenient way to fit exercise into your life, rather than having to structure your life around exercise,” Gibala added.

For the study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the team recruited 31 sedentary but otherwise healthy women and tested the effect of two different protocols, 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.

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, the researchers said.