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Climbing 5 flights of stairs daily lowers heart risks


By Lynn C. Allison From Newsmax

A new study shows that climbing 50 stair steps daily may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, blood clots, and heart attacks, by as much as 20% compared to those who do not climb stairs at all.

According to Medical News Today, the authors analyzed data from 458,860 adults participants in the UK Biobank that included information on the individuals’ stair-climbing, lifestyle and sociodemographic factors. They followed the study participants for 12.5 years. 

The researchers then cross-referenced the study subjects’ stair-climbing habits with coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke, or acute complications, which they used as markers of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) for the study.

Assuming an average staircase has 10 steps, the researchers tracked the incidence of ASCVD for people climbing their staircases 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, and equal to or greater than 21 times daily. They found that the most protective effect of stair-climbing was found in those who did not have a particular risk of cardiovascular disease due to genetics, but it also helped those who did have a pre-existing risk.

“Climbing stairs is a kind of vigorous exercise which has shown benefits on lowering various risk factors for heart disease,” said Dr. Lu Qi, the study’s corresponding author and director of Tulane University’s Obesity Center. “Climbing stairs may help in lowering body weight, improving metabolic status and inflammation, and reducing other diseases which may increase the risk of heart disease, such as diabetes.”

Experts point out that climbing stairs is an enhanced form of aerobic exercise because you use more muscle groups than an activity such as brisk walking on level ground. You are moving your body against gravity and engaging not only the muscles in your lower body, but the muscles in the lower back and core. But stair-climbing can be hard on the joints, so not everyone can climb 50 stairs daily to reap the cardiovascular benefit.

“I don’t want to dissuade people from walking on level ground because even walking on level ground is great,” said Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, medical director of the Structural Heart Program at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, who was not involved in the study. He says that people who just can’t run up the stairs anymore because of stiff joints or arthritis, should not be discouraged.

“Going upstairs is probably better than walking, but definitely walking is better than sitting on the sofa,’ he told Medical News Today.

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