Why stair climbing at work?
Stair climbing has been shown to use more energy than jogging so it is a powerful form of exercise. In terms of energy use, it comes second only after vigorous walking (see Levine, 2004; Figure 4).
In fact, seeing the positive effects on health, the UK government recently awarded a six-figure cash injection for Step Jockey, an app which tracks stair climbing and gamifies it.
Depending on where you live and work, the weather may not always be good for walking outside. Added to that, walking at high speed around an office is not going to be very popular with your colleagues!
Results from walking up stairs: benefits for you and your health
Stair climbing is also part of most people’s day at work. If it is something you can do every day, the long-term benefits will outweigh those of going to the gym once a fortnight.
If it forms part of your day, stair climbing at work causes no disruption and needs almost no planning, leaving very few excuses avoid doing it in future.
How to get started with taking the stairs at work?
Just go up a couple of levels to start, that’s it. If you need to go up or down 3 floors or less, this actually means very little time difference. Even going up one flight of stairs consistently will benefit you.
Going down stairs also benefits your health so don’t overlook that side of it, too!
If you need to regularly go up to something like the 20th floor, try getting off on the 17th or 18th. Likewise, get off on the 2nd or 3rd on the way down. You can then get off earlier each day or week – remember to leave a bit earlier for longer climbs!
I am definitely not suggesting you start by climbing 100 stairs a day! Slow and steady wins the race – we are going for sustainable activities here, not ones that fill you with fear the next day. If you really want a goal, climbing 10 flights of stairs a day seems like a reasonable amount for most people.
My current office is on the 3rd floor, which for me is perfect; it means it’s not too much to overwhelm if I have a bag full of stuff! I usually do this at least 3 times a day as I arrive in the morning, head out to teach and then go out for lunch; each time I come back I go up 3 floors.
If you regularly carry a bag, this can add to the workout that stair climbing can be. Walking up stairs with weights, in this case your bags, is like carrying kettlebells, which are a hugely popular way of building strength in the gym.
Stair climbing at the office can then become a way to fit in stealthy weight lifting, just by going to the office. Light weight lifting like this can help prevent things like muscle wastage (a cause of stretch marks). It can also help you to lose weight, so there’s an added bonus there.
Another nice thing about stair climbing is that many fitness trackers, like the FitBit, can measure it as activity so it will help you keep on track with your goals.
Climb the stairs, track your progress, feel rewarded. Feel better!
I also find stair climbing first thing on a cold morning fantastic for warming up. Because of the energy it uses, that causes heat/warmth. When I take the stairs, I never walk into the office feeling cold!
How to keep it going
Try to start stair climbing at work regularly, even for one floor up and down.
You can still take the lift on days when you are in a rush or feeling particularly tired.
At the very least, you can go down a flight of stairs (going down 3 flights of stairs burns the same calories as going up one flight of stairs!)
If you have one of those bags on wheels, try using a different bag as removing the excuses ahead of time will help you.
Stair Climbing at Work Challenge: What I’ve been doing with colleagues
As we are climbing stairs every day, we decided to start keeping a record of it in the office. We simply printed out a sheet with a goal for a virtual mountain, printed from the NHS (see page 2!) website here in the UK.
It tells us that, to climb a local hill (not mountain just yet!), we need to do 82 flights of stairs per week. It sounds like a lot but when you do quite a few anyway, it’s just a little extra effort.
One tip would be to only suggest a stair climbing challenge to colleagues you are close to – if you go beyond that, it could start to sound like an order and put people off.
You can then try the system, see what works and, if it gains momentum, others will want to join naturally. One of the worst things for trying to promote health at work is being forceful. People don’t like to be coerced into doing something and they will likely resist future suggestions even more than they do now.
What you need to do next
Leave a comment below with the floors you’ve covered (or intend to cover!) this week with your stair climbing at work and let us know how it is working for you!
If you haven’t already got some, you will also benefit from wearing good shoes (and sorry, but high heels do not count as good shoes for stair climbing!)
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