Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mind and body

Got stairs? You've got a great fitness tool

Lavinia Rodriguez

Lavinia Rodriguez

Americans spend billions of dollars on exercise equipment in an effort to lose and manage their weight. And, just as with fad diets, trends in exercise equipment come and go. Free weights, Nautilus equipment, NordicTracks, steppers, bands, inflatable balls, medicine balls, trampolines and leg and wrist weights are just a few of the most popular items.

Too often a lot of money is spent on equipment that is never used or is quickly forgotten underneath a pile of clothes or in the catacombs of a closet.

Enter the often underappreciated set of stairs. If you have access to stairs, you have exercise equipment that doesn't cost extra money, never needs to be put away, doesn't require a separate room and requires no special clothing to use — yet is a great cardiovascular workout and fat burner.

You can use stairs mindfully or mindlessly as you go about your day. If you get in the habit of using the stairs instead of the elevator when you're out — and not avoiding the stairs at home until you absolutely have to climb them — you've got a quick, intense workout. Do it often enough, and you'll notice results.

Recently a reader shared this story: "I'm 72 and tend to put on weight easily. On a recent cruise, however, I managed to gain no weight despite eating all I wanted. My savior was the stairs! We were on the 11th deck. I used only the stairs unless it was an absolute necessity."

Not everyone is able to climb stairs, but many of us could with some conditioning. Taking it slowly, you can get fit enough to use stairs as part of your active lifestyle. Perhaps you'll need to start slowly, climbing just one step at a time and taking rest breaks. There are no rules about how quickly you have to move. If you're so out of breath that you wouldn't be able to have a conversation, you're pushing too hard. Slow down until you're comfortable again. Then, as you get more fit, you can challenge yourself a bit more.

Here are some tips to help you use the stairs to achieve weight loss, fitness and health:

• Take frequent, short breaks during the day and walk up and down at least one flight of stairs each time. I climb steps between seeing patients.

• Find out where the stairs are in places you frequent, such as parking garages, malls, hotels and doctors' offices.

• Get in the habit of asking where the stairs are if you're not familiar with the building you're in.

• If you have stairs available at home or work, set a daily goal for climbing them. I have a goal of climbing at least eight flights daily. It has become a game for me.

• Find reasons to go up the stairs. Some people collect items that need to go upstairs at the bottom of the stairs to save trips. It's much better to carry everything up individually.

• If you're buying or planning to build a home, consider one with stairs.

Remember, the more you climb, the longer you'll be able to climb. Stairs help keep you more fit, leaner and more physically independent.

Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez is a Tampa psychologist and expert in weight management. She is the author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management." Send questions to her at drrod@fatmatters.com.

Got stairs? You've got a great fitness tool 02/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014 6:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  2. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  3. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year

    Military

    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  4. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'

    K12

    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. [iStockphoto.com]
  5. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]