How often are older people encouraged to move into a house that has no stairs? Simply because they’re older. That mightn’t be good advice.
The term ‘exercise snacks’ has been used to describe the way a longer bout of exercise can be broken up into smaller bits that are done throughout the day.
You might remember one of Michael Mosley’s TV programs in which he compared the benefit of three 10-minute bursts of walking a day with doing 10,000 steps.
In line with what we know about higher intensity exercise, the people doing the three more vigorous bursts were fitter.
Canadian researchers have recently been applying the snacking idea to stair walking.
They enlisted university students to walk vigorously up 60 steps (three flights of 20 steps) three times a day. The students did this on three days a week for six weeks, and not too surprisingly, became fitter than their peers who didn’t do it.
In 2018 a Japanese study also affirmed the benefits of stair walking. It showed that women aged 65 and over who lived in a house with stairs were more likely to maintain good day-to-day function.
While that study didn’t focus on short bouts of activity, it reiterated that stair walking is a great lower body exercise, and if you have them at home, it’s convenient too.
There’s benefit in just walking stairs in the course of daily life, but anyone who can safely climb them with a little more oomph can use them as way to improve their fitness and strength.
Taking a lead from the Canadian students, if you have a reasonable set of 10-plus stairs available, try three brisk flights three times a day. Catch your breath while you walk back down.
Anyone with a condition that prevents them from walking comfortably is probably wise to choose a house without stairs.
But for people who are healthy and able-bodied, a set of stairs might be bonus for their health and longevity.
And if you don’t have them at home, find a set anywhere you like.