We all know regular exercise can greatly benefit our health, but many of us can’t seem to make it happen. Either we don’t have time during the day, or perhaps it’s because we can’t afford a gym. Good news! A new study shows a quick and easy way for many people to improve their fitness—virtually anywhere.
20-second bursts of stair climbing were more effective at increasing respiratory fitness than the exercise bike.
Researchers at McMaster University created two different experiments using two groups of healthy, but admittedly not active, women. In both experiments the participants were asked to exercise in short 10-minute sessions three times a week for six weeks. Each session included a warm-up and cool-down.
In the first experiment one group was asked to climb stairs at a fast pace for 20-second intervals, while the second group simply rode exercise bikes for the same length of time. Results showed that the short 20-second bursts of stair climbing were more effective at increasing respiratory fitness than the exercise bike.
In the second experiment the women were asked to climb stairs for 60-second intervals, and again they showed an increase in cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.
It appears that even super-short interval training—10 minutes of stair climbing—offers a convenient and effective way to train your heart and lungs, which can lead to a wealth of additional health benefits. Plus, think of how strong your calf muscles will get from all those stairs.