Working out after a long day of work can sound daunting and exhausting. Lack of time or no access to the gym are the two most common excuses we use to avoid exercise. Now, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, suggest taking the stairs 30 minutes a week can give our body a good workout.

“Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour,” said Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, in a statement.

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Stair Climbing is a rigorous activity that can help keep us in shape. Previous research has found climbing stairs can burn calories two to three times faster than walking briskly on the level. In the study, researchers monitored 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 to walk, lift weights, or climb stairs; stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level, and 50 percent harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. Participants reached peak exertion much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why we huff and puff going up the stairs.

In the new study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Gibala and her colleagues sought to determine if sprint interval training (SIT) — brief bursts of vigorous exercise separated by short periods of recovery — is effective and time-efficient alternative to improve overall fitness. A total of 31 sedentary, but otherwise healthy women were divided into two separate groups, where each group committed to an exercise routine. Both groups were required to do a 10-minute session that included warm-ups, cool-downs, and recovery periods.

The first exercise routine required three sessions of 20-second stair climbing in an "all-out" manner. These results were then compared and contrasted to participants who ran through the same routine using an exercise bike. The bike has already been shown to improve fitness. In the second experiment, participants vigorously climbed up and down one flight of stairs for periods of 60 seconds, which is something that could easily be done at home. The groups were devoted to their exercising for a total of a month-and-a-half.

The findings revealed stair climbing led to an increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, a important healthy marker linked to longevity. Interval training works by fitting exercise into our life, rather than adjusting our schedule around exercise. Giabala, author of the book “The One Minute Workout” , claims 10 minutes of easy exercise with three 20-second sprints dispersed, is just as effective as 50 minutes of continuous, moderate effort.

Taking the stairs seems like a effortless way to get in cardio, without going to the gym, or realizing you're exercising.

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There are three other exercises we do that don't feel like exercise, which can get us in shape.


A 2015 study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress found just 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven years of life. A group of 69 healthy, non-smokers, aged between 30 and 60, who did not take regular exercise were tested as part of the study at Saarland University in Germany. After six months of regular aerobic exercise, blood tests showed high-intensity interval training and strength training triggered an anti-aging process and helped repair old DNA.


Going up to the dance floor can be a whole-body workout that helps boost our heart health, making it stronger, and sharpening our balance and coordination. A 30-minute dance class can burn between 130 to 250 calories, which is approximately the same as jogging. The numbers can vary a lot, from less than 200 calories per hour for slow dances like tango; 350 calories for faster dancing like swing; and more than 500 calories for step aerobics dancing.

Playing An Instrument

A 2014 study found playing an instrument, like the violin, can help shed calories. Playing the violin for an hour, burns approximately 175 calories, or the equivalent of 1/2 a Snickers Bar or 2 glasses of wine. A person who weighs 110 pounds will burn 38 calories over the course of playing the violin for 30 minutes.

We can stay in shape by doing our favorite activities, without realizing we’re getting a workout.

Source: Allison MK, Bagole JH, Martin BJ et al. Brief Intense Stair Climbing Improves Cardiorespiratory Fitness. Brief Intense Stair Climbing Improves Cardiorespiratory Fitness. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2017.

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