December 20, 2023

Can climbing up 50 steps daily reduce CVD?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises adults to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity weekly, equating to 30 minutes daily across five days, along with muscle-strengthening activities twice a week.

A recent research conducted in 2022 highlighted the potential association between walking 10,000 steps daily and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

However, a subsequent 2023 study published in the Atherosclerosis Journal revealed a different approach. Climbing 50 stair steps, equivalent to more than five flights of stairs, daily exhibited a potential risk reduction of up to 20% for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and overall cardiovascular disease (CVD). The study identified these benefits with just five flights of stairs per day, comparing this group to individuals who didn’t climb stairs regularly. Interestingly, participants who ceased stair climbing between the study’s initiation and a subsequent evaluation after five years faced a 32% increased risk of heart disease compared to those who hadn’t engaged in stair climbing initially.

Conversely, individuals who spent a considerable portion of their day in a sedentary state—either lying down or sitting—with less than 20 minutes of activity faced an escalated mortality risk of up to 40%. Hence, doctors from a heart care center in Buckeye underscore the significance of daily physical activity, especially in contrast to prolonged periods of sedentary behavior, in influencing cardiovascular health and overall mortality risk.

Why is CVD dangerous?

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), alongside coronary artery disease and stroke, stands as a significant cause of mortality on a global scale. As per a 2022 study, the prevalence of ASCVD in the U.S. during 2019 accounted for approximately 24.0 million individuals, constituting about 10% of the population aged 21 years and above. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further revealed that nearly one in every five deaths in the United States in 2021, approximately 695,000 cases, were attributed to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Interestingly, in younger years, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease tends to be more prevalent among men compared to women. However, this discrepancy diminishes post-menopause, potentially owing to the decline of protective sex hormones in women as they age. This shift highlights the role of hormones in influencing the prevalence of ASCVD between genders throughout a woman’s life.

These statistics underscore the significant impact of cardiovascular diseases, particularly ASCVD, on the population’s health. The high prevalence and considerable mortality rates associated with ASCVD in the U.S. emphasize the critical need for effective preventive measures and treatments to address this prevalent health concern. Additionally, understanding the evolving patterns of disease prevalence across genders at different life stages remains crucial in developing tailored strategies for prevention and intervention.

How stair-climbing benefit your heart?

Climbing stairs presents a robust form of intermittent physical activity, involving vigorous effort as the body ascends against gravity. This demanding activity engages multiple muscles, expending higher energy levels compared to other physical exercises.

Beyond its role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stair climbing offers additional health benefits. It’s associated with decreased risks of diabetes and stroke while contributing to enhanced muscle strength. The physical exertion while ascending stairs provides threefold the exercise intensity when compared to walking on level ground, yielding quicker health outcomes. Moreover, it rivals or surpasses moderate-intensity exercises in improving blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and body weight.

The practice of climbing stairs proves instrumental in maintaining a healthy heart, lungs, and circulatory system, elevating overall fitness levels. Health experts, especially doctors from the heart care center in Buckeye, emphasize that increasing stair climbing in daily routines is a cost-effective and readily accessible means to incorporate essential physical activity. This active choice can significantly mitigate the risk of atherosclerosis, the accumulation of plaque within arteries. Plaque accumulation can impede blood flow, leading to conditions such as coronary heart disease, angina, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or chronic kidney disease.

By opting for stairs over elevators or escalators, individuals can substantially diminish their susceptibility to various cardiovascular issues. This simple lifestyle adjustment holds immense potential in enhancing overall cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of debilitating conditions associated with plaque buildup in arteries.

Who shouldn’t opt for stair-climbing?

Engaging in stair-climbing exercises can lead to an elevation in both blood pressure and heart rate. As a precautionary measure, individuals with uncontrolled blood pressure or known heart conditions are advised against this activity. However, for individuals in good health without a history of heart problems, climbing stairs can be safe and beneficial.

Before adopting a stair-climbing routine, it’s crucial to undergo a pre-routine checkup. This checkup is essential because intense physical exertion, particularly for individuals with smaller plaques in their arteries, might dislodge these plaques, causing vessel tears. Consequently, blood may rush in, forming larger clots that could trigger a heart attack. Therefore, it is imperative to heed medical advice and guidance. Regardless of the chosen exercise regimen, it is advisable to attentively listen to your body’s cues and gradually build your activity levels.

Remember, while stair-climbing can offer significant health benefits for those in good health, it’s vital to prioritize safety, especially for individuals with underlying health concerns. Consulting a doctor from a cardiovascular clinic in Buckeye before commencing any exercise routine ensures that the activity aligns with your overall health status and minimizes potential risks.

Is stair climbing better than other walking?

Yes. Stair climbing offers a unique blend of aerobic exercise and lower-body muscle training. Compared to walking, climbing stairs generally constitutes more vigorous physical activity. However, both moderate exercises like walking and vigorous activities such as stair climbing carry significant health benefits. Research indicates that stair climbing can be more intensive, enabling individuals to burn more calories in a shorter duration. Additionally, this activity engages a broader array of muscle groups compared to walking, contributing to its effectiveness as a workout.

The bottom line

It’s crucial to select an exercise regimen that aligns with your heart health status and fitness objectives. Consulting your primary care physician or cardiologist from a cardiovascular clinic in Buckeye is recommended if you have any doubts or concerns about incorporating stair climbing into your routine. Maintaining an active lifestyle can help delay or prevent age-related chronic illnesses and associated diseases. If stair climbing doesn’t suit you, consider alternative exercises that engage your leg muscles, like repetitively rising from a chair. This study suggests that consistent activity, rather than dedicated exercise time, yields substantial health benefits.

The convenience of integrating stair climbing into daily tasks, like fetching items from other floors in your home, can positively impact your heart health. Opting for stairs over elevators or escalators whenever feasible can make a difference. Starting a stair-climbing routine is straightforward, particularly if you have stairs at home. Beginning with five rounds of climbing up and down each day is a good starting point for enhancing heart health. Remember, the study recommends short bursts of activity, so you can spread out your stair climbing throughout the day. Start with a couple of flights and gradually increase as you become more comfortable.