for your health
STAIR CLIMBING Basics
By Andrea Downing Peck
IF YOU FIND yourself huffing and puffing after
trudging up a flight of stairs, the concept of racing
to the top of an office tower may sound like exercise
purgatory. Nonetheless, stair climbing offers a free
and fast route to cardiovascular fitness.
The vertical component is what separates stair
climbing from more popular, but less strenuous,
forms of exercise such as pounding out miles on a
Costco member Cedric Bryant, chief science
officer for the American Council on Exercise, says
a treadmill, with a maximum grade of 15 to 20
percent, cannot compete with stair climbing as an
“Climbing stairs is noticeably more challeng-
ing,” he notes. “With stair climbing, you have to do
so much vertical work. You move your body weight
against the effects of gravity more so than when you
are on level ground.”
Stair climbing also produces a major calorie
burn, allowing stair climbers to spend less time
“Stair climbing does give you more bang for the
buck,” says Carla Sottovia, director of fitness and
personal training at Cooper Fitness Center in
Dallas, Texas. “Any time you do high-intensity exer-
cise, whether it be stair climbing or sprints, it helps
you gain fitness. Because you are pushing harder,
you can cut down the time you spend.”
Most surprisingly, climbing stairs causes only
modest impact on joints and muscles, meaning
stair climbers typically are not plagued by muscle
soreness as long as they vary the way they come
down the stairs.
“Having people run up the stairs and either walk
or take the elevator down is good advice,” Bryant
said. “If you are going to walk down, while it might
look odd, you should walk in a zigzag fashion” to
Costco member and top-ranked tower runner
P. J. Glassey demonstrates his winning form.
WANT TO give stair climbing a try? Here
are tips from fitness experts Carla Sottovia
and Cedric Bryant:
Check with your doctor to make sure
you don’t have health-related issues that
could be aggravated by exercise.
Carry a water bottle or have access to
water while climbing.
Wear running or walking shoes that
provide your foot with adequate support.
When beginning a stair-climbing
routine, climb stairs slowly, taking
time to build endurance.
If you are climbing inside a
building, run up the stairs but take
the elevator down to reduce stress on
joints and muscles.
Consider using a heart-rate
monitor to gauge the intensity of
Use a staircase in your home or
high school stadium stairs as a
substitute for an office tower.—ADP
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find shoes, water bottles
and bottled water at their local Costco. Costco
and Costco.com also carry heart-rate monitors.
A 175-pound person
burns 358 calories
in just 30 minutes
by climbing stairs.
JUNE 2012 ;e Costco Connection 37
CONTINUED ON PAGE 39
avoid the “braking action” that causes microscopic
muscle fiber tears and leads to soreness.
Costco member P.J. Glassey, who at age 45 is
ranked among the top 10 tower runners in the
United States, discovered stair climbing five years
ago when he was searching for new forms of high-intensity training. He entered the Big Climb, a race
up 69 flights of the Columbia Center tower in Seattle.
While he calls his inaugural finishing time “nothing