Are you stuck at home missing your regular exercise class? Are you less active than usual, feeling stiff or sluggish? Are you looking for ways to keep fit at home?
If you have stairs at home, look no further! And even if you don’t, keep reading as there will almost certainly be some nearby steps that you can use.
Going up and down the stairs is such brilliant exercise. It gets your blood pumping, your heart working, and strengthens essential muscles in your legs and hips.
Taking the stairs more often and with more intention can be a great way to boost your fitness.
Watch the video or read on to learn our tips for using the stairs, how to motivate yourself and key technique pointers to stay safe and get the best workout you can.
Stair Climbing Technique
When we climb the stairs, we’re usually thinking about what we’re going up or down to do (even though we often forget by the time we get there!). When we do focus on our technique, we get more of a fitness benefit from each stair climb.
These are the three things to focus on:
Check your posture at the start and as you go up the stairs. Think about straightening yourself up as much as possible. Imagine you have a string coming out of the top of your head pulling you taller.
Put your weight through your heels and push up through your glutes. Often when we climb the stairs, we push off our toes. Instead, try pushing up through your heels, and you will feel the difference.
You do need to get your whole foot on the step to do this, and the stair tread isn’t always deep enough. Get as much of your foot on the step as you can, and it should be enough.
Don’t Rely on the Handrail
If there is a handrail or a bannister and you need to use this for support, then do. Safety always comes first. However, try not to pull yourself up with the handrail. If you do need it, try to have your hand lightly resting on it, so you feel secure but aren’t holding on too tightly.
Think about the handrail providing support, and focus on your leg muscles propelling you up the stairs. Try to pay attention while you climb the stairs for exercise. Think of it as an exercise you need to concentrate on, not an activity you do on autopilot while thinking about the next thing you are doing.
The better your technique on the stairs, the more muscles you will activate and the more of a ‘workout’ you will get.
Stair Climbing Tips
Here are some stair climbing tips you can use every day.
Clear the Clutter
Stairs do look awfully like shelves, and it’s easy to let clutter build up. However, the risk of tripping increases if you are using the stairs for exercise. So, check for clutter before you start exercising.
(Some people keep a basket at the top and bottom of the stairs to have a safe place to store items which need to go up or down).
Remember to check for pets too! I know lots of cats who love to snooze on the stairs, so they will need moving on as well.
Check Your Specs
Be careful on the stairs if you wear bifocal glasses. They can make it harder for you to see steps and therefore more likely to trip or fall.
If you have another pair of glasses, you may wish to switch to these before stair climbing for exercise. If the only lenses you have are bifocals, then take extra care and keep your hand gently resting on the handrail, just in case.
Please check with your optician if you are unsure or need further guidance.
Pay More Attention on the Descent
Many people find it harder going down the stairs. If you struggle with your balance, you may feel unsteady on the way down. If that’s the case for you, take care.
Take a little more time to come down; hold on a little tighter to the handrail. You may even wish to place both feet on each step or to come down sideways. Concentrate fully and don’t let yourself get distracted.
If you do find it hard coming down the stairs, you will likely benefit from some additional strength and balance exercises, like our FREE Balance Boost video series.
What If You Don’t Have Stairs at Home?
If you don’t have stairs at home, don’t discount stair exercise. Here are some places you could find stairs near your home:
- In your apartment building,
- In a nearby shopping mall or community centre,
- In a park or outside area.
It doesn’t have to be a full flight. Even just a set of five steps can be enough to get a great workout.
Little and Often
As with anything, little and often is best. Try to intersperse the stair climbing throughout your day and between other activities. It will give you a bit of an energy boost, and it won’t feel like such hard work.
It might be easier to get 10 or more stair climbs in over the day, but if you try and do 10 in one go, it might feel too much like hard work!
Helena is one of our Studio members. She does her Better Balance videos every morning and then takes the stairs throughout the day. She told me that she always goes upstairs to use the bathroom in order to climb the stairs (even though she has a bathroom on the ground floor!).
Try setting a small target (smaller than you think), keeping a record and celebrating every stair climb.
Combine Your Stair Climbing with Other Exercises
If you already do some exercises at home, then combine stair climbing with these.
For instance, Melissa, another one of our Studio members, starts with one of our Move More Easily or Wake Up, Warm Up! videos. Then she does her stair climbs (concentrating on her posture and technique) and finishes with a Quick Win balance training video or a breathing/relaxation exercise.
If you would like more ideas on staying active at home, take a look at the online exercise studio from Vida Wellness. The videos, resources and support available in the Studio will help you improve your balance and posture, feel stronger, and move more easily.
Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It
As with anything that’s hard work, it always helps to remind yourself why you’re doing it. So, when you go to do your stair climbs, tell yourself how it’s going to help you. This will be specific to you, but here are some examples:
“I’m going to climb the stairs five times today because I want to stay fit and strong so I can keep up with my grandchildren in the park.”
“I’m going to fit ten stair climbs in my day to keep my legs strong for dancing!”
“I’m exercising on the stairs so that I have the stamina to make the most of the holiday I have booked later this year.”
Taking a minute to think about what’s meaningful to you and reminding yourself of this will help you to get started and keep going.
Do you avoid the stairs or appreciate them as a valuable exercise opportunity? What might be your reason to do stair climbs? Contact us to let us know!