Up & Down Workout
N.B. This blog is also available in Finnish and you’ll find it here
What’s the best cardio and strength equipment, that doesn’t cost anything and you can use almost everywhere and at any time of the day? Stairs! Running in the stairs is my favorite way to work out when we’re traveling, and when I may not have an easy access to the gym. It’s usually easy to perform almost at that moment you enter out of the door, and at the same time you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. It’s also nice to see the place you’re at that moment from the bird’s-eye view, in a case if you end up running in stairs, which lead you to vantage point!
Studies have shown, that you burn more calories running up and down stairs compared to jogging, or cycling, at a moderate pace and without much of an incline. That’s because you’re moving against gravity, stair running becomes more intense than comparable running on a flat surface. It may look a bit boring or unchallenging, but stair running has a lot of benefits to offer to you, like tight and toned legs, stronger muscles, stronger lungs and heart (which include reduced high blood pressure levels, improved blood cholesterol, and decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes), boosted metabolism and weight loss. At least it motivates me to run up all the stairs, which come on my way 😉 .
This is how it works:
• Wear proper footwear. Even though you’re on a vacation, you can’t use flip flops or ballerina shoes. Nothing will derail a workout program faster than wearing the wrong, or ill-fitting shoes. Moreover you’ll just brake yourself.
• Find the appropriate stairs, either inside or outside (Though, your neighbours might not like the idea that you run up and down the stairs in the staircase). You’ll need to find stairs with at least 10 steps, to make this exercise easily performed.
• Your whole foot needs to fit on the step, so that stairs are safe to use.
• Handrails are a big plus. Those are for your safety; slightly hold the outside rail on the way up and down, until your body and brain get used to the movement. Those handrails are also handy to crab, if you get tired.
• As with any workout, start off with a warm-up and stretching. Walk up and down the stairs before running. This gets your muscles, heart and lungs warmed up and ready for the upcoming action.
• Push off the whole foot, feeling the push-off through the heel. You use your whole leg, not just your calf, when pushing off.
• Keep your torso straight (your shoulders should be back and down), and try to look straight ahead rather than at your feet.
• Run up and down for at least 20-30 minutes.
• Don’t forget to use your arms, because the action of the arms essentially moves the legs! Arms should be kept tight, bent at ninety-degree angles and close to the sides.
• When you’re finished, cool down by jogging up and down the stairs.
Remember that, if you feel any knee pain, refrain from continuing running. This exercise should require some effort and be a little uncomfortable, but any kind of pain (sharp, acute, or recurring kind), is a warning sign you should not ignore!
If you get easily bored while training or just want spice up a little your stair running, you should incorporate interval training into your workout. Interval training means alternating between low and high-intensities through the duration of the exercise.
For example, start running up and down at a normal pace for two minutes, and then speed up and sprint up and down those stairs for one minute. After that, run up every other step and jog down for one minute. Finally, sprint up the stairs and return down walking. Repeat for one minute. This combination takes five minutes, and you can do it either at the end of your normal running workout, or just do this combination 4-6 times in a row. The more intensively you work out, the more calories you are going to burn, even if you increase intensity for just a few minutes at a time!
Enjoy the burn,