How much does it help to take the stairs rather than ride the escalator or elevator?
- A 140-pound person will burn about 4 more calories per minute compared to standing and riding on an escalator or elevator.
- Over the course of a year, you might lose over half a pound if your only lifestyle change was taking the stairs for a minute a day.
But there are other benefits -- stair climbing challenges more muscles than standing and level walking. It is a good activity to build into your day. One of the "small steps" recommended at HealthierUS.gov is to take the stairs.
Eliminating Stairs from HomesWith an aging population, single-story homes and homes with the master bedroom on the main level are becoming more desirable. People want to eliminate stairs from their lives. Yet a task such as carrying groceries up a flight of stairs burns more than twice the calories as carrying them on level ground. Unless you have existing joint problems, it is good to challenge your muscles and joints each day. I see living in a two-story house as a built-in fitness program. However, I prefer having the laundry on the same level as the closets and bedrooms, to eliminate carrying loads up and down stairs.
What Will Make You Take the Stairs?
Several studies have looked at the best way to encourage people to take the stairs instead of the escalator at shopping malls. They found the best way to motivate people was to have messages on the stair risers. Interestingly, people who saw the stair riser signs were more likely to take the stairs down, or to take other stairs that didn't have signs.
Stairs need to be conveniently located, not hidden away and poorly marked. Do they feel like a lonely, scary place, or a safe, well-lit, frequently-used environment? Architects, designers and building management all have a role in making stairwells more walker-friendly in office buildings, schools, hospitals and government buildings. Once in the stairwell, it may be poorly cleaned, with little climate control, and undecorated. No wonder people just wait for the elevator.
Small Steps Add Up
Taking the stairs is just one small step. You need to add other small changes to be more active and eat a better diet in order to stay fit and healthy. The biggest step can be achieving the recommended exercise levels for healthy persons -- 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, 5 days a week, plus strength exercise two days a week
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