Climbing the Stairs | Stair Climbing for Fitness and Weight Loss

It seems too simple, but climbing the stairs, or stair climbing is truly one of, if not the best, activity for exercise. Nothing is more beneficial than being weight-bearing and propelling your body up against gravity. This is exactly what stair climbing does.

Benefits of Stair Climbing

Because climbing stairs is weight bearing and against gravity, it magnifies the typical effects of exercise. Those benefits are:

  • cardiovascular improvement-circulation, stronger heart, etc.
  • Increased calorie burning
  • Increased fat burning
  • Elevated metabolism

Strength and Cardio: Stair climbing has a unique benefit: Because you are lifting your entire body weight while you are stepping, you are also building strength while your are doing this cardiovascular exercise. Granted, it’s more muscular endurance than absolute strength, but that’s what the average person needs.

Low Impact: Although more intense than jogging, climbing stairs is less impact than jogging or walking. As long as the height of the stairs is not too high and does not hurt your knees, it is very easy on your joints.

[hmtad name=”In Content” align=”left”]

Weakness of Stair Climbing Exercise

Although climbing the stairs is one of the best cardio activities, it has one major inherent problem: You have to come down. The reason this is a problem is because going down stairs uses your muscles in a different way than going up. Going down uses primarily eccentric contractions on your muscles. This means that the muscles are lengthening as you are contracting them. I won’t go into the science behind this, but know that this is the part of the activity that will make you sore. Going up will be OK, going down causes the pain. You’ll have to ease into this to build a tolerance. If you are doing staircase exercises in a tall building, you may want to take the elevator down. There’s no shame in that. It’s what I would do.

Stair Climbing Muscles

The muscles used in climbing the stairs are primarily the quadriceps muscles on the front of your thigh and the gluteals (or buttocks). Because it is weight bearing and requiring balance, you are actually using nearly every muscle in our legs to perform this activity. When going down, you also add quite a bit of calf muscle. You”ll feel this the next day, believe me.

Options for Stair Climbing

In case you don’t have a clear option for climbing stairs, here are ideas for locations:

  • Stairwell in building: build into it one floor at a time. Remember, there’s no shame in taking the stairs down. There’s not much benefit in going down and it’ll make you sore.
  • Stadium stairs: great option if you live near a football stadium.
  • Stair master machine: Especially the ones with the rotating stairs.
  • Hills: Almost as good as stairs.
  • The Incline: If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, CO, I recommend you try the Incline. It’s 1 mile up the mountain on a retired cog railroad. It’s the toughest workout ever!

Note: One way to get better at stair climbing is to do the step ups exercise.

Mike Caton

What is Zumba? Benefits of Zumba Fitness

What is Zumba?

Zumba is a hugely popular dance exercise form based on Latin music and dance moves. It is one of the activities for exercise that is designed or all levels and ages. The Zumba style was developed by Alberto “Beto” Perez in Colombia an 1990. Soon after, he bought the craze to the US. Along with friends, Beto branded the style and helped it quickly expand into countries all over the world.

Benefits of Zumba

  • Cardiovascular improvements (aerobic and anaerobic)
  • Calorie burning
  • Fat burning
  • Raised metabolism
  • Strength (in toning classes)
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Fun way to get fit[hmtad name=”In Content” align=”left”]

Types of Zumba Classes

Zumba has 8 different types of classes based on a variety of ages and fitness levels.

  • Zumba
  • Zumba Gold (primarily for older population)
  • Zumba Toning (with weights)
  • Aqua Zumba
  • Zumbatomic
  • Zumba in the circuit
  • Zumba Gold-Toning
  • Zumba Sentao

How to Get Started with Zumba

Most health clubs offer zumba classes. Also, you can find zumba dvd’s to exercise at home.

If you’re looking for a great activity for exercise, zumba is a great option. You can find other great activities for exercise here as well as a list of exercises here.

Mike Caton 

Spinning Classes: Benefits of Spinning

Spinning Classes are hugely popular exercise classes and one of the best activities for exercise. I had my first spinning workout at a fitness industry trade show when it was a new program just being introduced. Although I had never done it, I had a great time and could immediately see that it was a great program. I was right on this prediction, because spinning is still around more than 15 years later and still going strong.

What is Spinning?

Spinning is a branded group exercise program using specialized stationary bikes led by a certified instructor. The founders took the concept of indoor cycling and elevated it to a never-before-seen level. Spinning classes are available at most health clubs and also available on DVD for use at home.[hmtad name=”In Content” align=”left”]

Benefits of Spinning

Spinning is a great cardiovascular exercise option and has many benefits. Some of them are:

  • Extremely motivating exercise
  • Spinning weight loss
  • Increased metabolism
  • Easy on the joints
  • Intensity can be adjusted for all abilities
  • Good way for cyclists to stay in shape during the winter
  • Faster cyclists can’t leave you behind (it’s stationary, get it?)

Spinning Workouts

For more information on spinning workouts, click here

We also have a list of exercises by body part.

Mike Caton

Water Exercise: Not Just for Seniors

Water Exercise is a great activity for exercise. It can take several forms: Aqua Aerobics, lap swimming, water running, etc.

Benefits of Water Exercise

Water exercise has several benefits. One of them is the buoyancy of the water. The amount of buoyancy can be regulated by the height of the water. Every inch of water higher on your body removes more of your body weight. This is significant because some exercisers suffer from joint pains that make traditional exercise impossible. For them, simply supporting their body weight on their frame while moving is painful. By taking off some of the exercisers weight, they can now move through the range of motion pain free.

The other benefit of water exercise is that movement in water is slower than movement on dry land. Quicker acceleration of the bodies movements sometimes causes pain. The slower movements in the water make movement more comfortable. So, combining the weight loss from buoyancy with the slower moving from the water, water exercise is sometimes the best option for some exercisers.[hmtad name=”In Content” align=”left”]

Who Should Consider Water Exercise?

Water exercise should be considered by anyone who has joint pain and would benefit from working with less than their body weight. This may be athletes or hard-core exercisers who are rehabbing from injury, anyone with arthritis, or someone who has joint pain for any other reason. This may be an older adult, but could be anyone.  I often prescribe it for the athletes that I coach when they are starting to feel some pains. This way they can still get a workout in without making things worse. image of running in water

Where Can You Do It?

Water exercise can be accomplished anywhere you have access to water. Many health clubs with pools offer water exercise classes. This article gives you a good pool workout.

Overall, my hope is that you consider this option and don’t shy away because you think it’s only for your parents or grandparents. Water exercise is a really great option for exercises. Again, you can check out other exercise options here or our list of exercises here.

Mike Caton

Walk Jog Run

Walk Jog Run is the perfect order to go from couch potato to racer. Let’s first discuss the difference:

Walking is propelling your body forward in a standing position while one foot is always in contact with the surface at all times as you shift the weight from one leg to the other. The general action is to land on your heel and then roll to the front of the foot and then push off with the toe. You can read my article on walking for weight loss.

Jogging is propelling your body forward in a standing position while allowing one leg to come off the ground while you shift the weight from one leg to the other.  Many people argue about the difference between jogging and running. I think the difference is in intensity. If you measure intensity by heart rate, jogging is probably done at 70% or less of your maximum heart rate. Jogging is about conserving energy, staying comfortable and lasting a long while. Jogging is something people do when their primary goal is fitness and/or weight loss. Joggers aren’t very interested in how fast they are going.

[hmtad name=”In Content” align=”left”]

Running is very much like jogging, but the intensity is higher. If you measure intensity by heart rate, running is probably done at 70% or more of your maximum heart rate. Although runners are also interested in fitness and body weight, their primary goal is speed and performance. Fitness and lower body weight are more a necessary factor for improved performance than a goal. Note of caution: Don’t call a runner a jogger. You may get a sharp rebut.

How to Make the Transition

I will detail this much more in Start Jogging and Start Running. But know that the key to success is to take your time. Give your body a chance to slowly adapt to the increased stress before you do too much to soon. Meaning, make small advances in intensity and stay at that level for at least three weeks before making another small advance. The general rule of thumb is to only increase distance (or intensity) by about 10% each step time you increase. That’s not a lot. Most running injuries are a result of too much too soon.

Mike Caton