Couch potatoes now have no excuse to forego exercise. A new study suggests brief but intense stair climbing, which can be done anywhere, is just as good for the heart as structured physical activities. A team of researchers found that stair climbing is a convenient and easy way to fit exercise into your life. The study negates two common excuses of couch potatoes: no access to the gym and no time to visit one. Kinesiology professor Martin Gibala, lead author, said stair climbing is a kind of exercise that anyone can do after work or during lunch hour. “This research takes interval training out of the lab and makes it accessible to everyone,” he said. Gibala is an expert at high-intensity interval training and author of a book called The One-Minute Workout. Past studies have shown that vigorous stair climbing accumulated over long periods of time — about 70 minutes in seven days — can have positive benefits.
Researchers set out to investigate whether sprint interval training (SIT) is a time-efficient and effective alternative that improves heart health. SIT involves brief bursts of intense exercises separated by short periods of break. The first procedure involved three bouts of continuous climbing that lasted for 20 seconds. The results of this first procedure were compared among women who ran through the same procedure but with an exercise bike that has been proven to improve fitness. During the second procedure, participants vigorously climbed up and down one flight of stairs for 60 seconds — an experiment that can be performed at home. Both protocols, which lasted for 30 minutes, increased the cardiorespiratory fitness of the participants, which is an important health marker for longevity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2017 – Volume 49 – Issue 2 – p 298–307