America has an obesity problem, and our lack of physical activity is a big part of it. Researchers from Stanford University found that the number of U.S. women who said they didn’t exercise rose from 19% to 52% between 1988 and 2010, while the number of men who didn’t exercise jumped from 11% to 43%. During that time, obesity rates rose by an average of 12.5% in both groups.
Because obesity and heart disease are so closely linked, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 30 minutes of “moderate physical activity” five times per week as part of their Life’s Simple 7™ campaign to improve nationwide heart health and help people live longer, healthier lives—and studies show taking the stairs every day is a pretty good start.
Not only can climbing a flight of stairs just three times a day burn 15 calories (according to a recent University of New Mexico study) but it can also help lower heart disease and stroke risk and help maintain healthy blood sugar and metabolism, says Dr. William Abraham of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Experts also point out the benefits of stair climbing for helping to build leg, abdomen and lower-back strength, all of which are important as we grow older and start to lose muscle mass.