Take the stairs to supercharge fitness
Everyone has 10 daily minutes to spare. Here's how to use yours wisely.
Today's goal: Make the climb
You've seen it in corny sports movies: the would-be, could-be athlete is jogging up the stadium stairs as part of his/her workout. But if you took a random poll of real-life athletes, the majority would cop to doing it too. And there's a good reason. According to Chris Easton, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Kingston University in London, stair workouts can boost your aerobic fitness, build leg strength, and even torch mega calories, in just 10 minutes.
"When you only have 10 minutes, you need to exercise at a very high intensity, which means going all out for much of the session," Easton said. "Stair climbing is the best way to do this because you use about 50 percent more energy to move your body vertically than you do moving it horizontally when running on flat ground." There's also less impact on your joints when running up stairs than there is when pounding the pavement, and you can climb stairs pretty much anywhere.
Here's Easton's game-plan: Alternate running up the stairs for 15 seconds as quickly as possible with 15 seconds of "active recovery," or walking back down the stairs at a moderate pace, to where you started. Continue this ratio of 15 seconds of work to 15 seconds of rest for the full 10 minutes. For an additional glute-strengthening challenge, try taking the stairs two at a time on the way up. Ouch (but in a good way!).