Stairway to health

October 5, 2009 3:15:53 PM PDT
Instead of waiting for the elevator, take the stairs instead. You can improve your health simply by climbing stairs. And now, there's a new campaign to get New Yorkers to do just that. Doctors say it can make a difference. "There are well proven benefits of climbing stairs," said Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, with NYU Langone Medical Center.

He says it can help to improve cholesterol levels, with good cholesterol going up and bad cholesterol going down.

And then there's the heart-healthy benefit, as it can improve cardiovascular health. Even something as simple as climbing the stairs in an apartment building.

According to a recent study, men who climb at least 20 floors a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke or death, and mortality rates were 33 percent lower for men who climbed 55 flights or more each week.

And now, some schools are promoting climbing stairs to better health. At Cooper Union's new academic building, there's an new elevator, but it's a skip-stop elevator that forces students to incorporate the stairs, because it stops on only three floors.

You can also climb stairs at the gym. The Stairmaster was created in 1983, and while it looks the same, there have been massive improvements over the years.

"Now they are a lot smoother and have more options with resistance," said Geralyn Coopersmith, with Equinox. "It's one of the best things you can do for your butt."

"It's very intense, gets your heart going, it's a hard workout," fitness buff Stephanie Rapaport said.

And, according to the NYC Health Department, there are other benefits to this type of exercise:

  • Stair climbing burns almost 700 percent the number of calories you burn standing in an elevator.
  • Just two minutes of stair climbing each day burns enough calories to eliminate the one pound an average adult gains each year.
  • Men who climbed at least 20 floors a week (about three floors a day) had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke or death from all causes.

    For more information on climbing stairs for better health, go to:

    Climbing towards good health

    New York City Health Department

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