Fellow blogger Tony (One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100) wrote this interesting post: Test your heart health by climbing stairs. Dr. Jesús Peteiro, a cardiologist wanted a simple field test for cardiovascular health so he came up with one based on stair climbing. By comparing results of the stair test with laboratory exercise results, he determined your are in good cardiovascular health if you can climb four flights of stairs in 60 sec or less. If it takes you 90 secs or more, you might want to check with a doctor.
I decided to give this a try as a challenge. I could do the two flights of stairs in my two story house twice in less than 30 secs, but that’s four flights up and two down. Dr. Peteiro intended the test to be four flights up without any down. To do that I had to use the outside stairs at a local apartment building:
I tucked my bike in next to the mailboxes while I did this. I took the stairs one at a time because a few months ago I aggravated my piriformis muscle doing stairs two at a time. It took me 23 secs so I’m happy to have passed Dr. Peteiro’s test. I think I’m pretty good at this because I ride standing up on my bike a lot. But this is not intended to be a race, it’s fine if you can do 60 sec or less, while 90 or more might be a warning sign.
I think field tests like this are a great idea. Stair climbing is a good workout that’s one of the few activities of daily living that forces us to use more intensity. Especially if you’re the type of person that likes to get your activity from daily living rather than formal exercise, I highly recommend working stairs in. If you have any joint limitations you can limit the impact by taking the stairs up and the elevator down if one’s available. I did that to stay active when I couldn’t ride due to a shoulder injury, it worked great.
At the bottom of Tony’s post there are links to related posts on why stair climbing is good for you. There are a total of five of them, and they are all great. If, like Tony, you live in a high rise, you have a ready made stair challenge. But even if you live in a “vertically-challenge” small town like mine (not too many buildings more than two stories) you can still find some stairs. There’s our four story downtown parking garage and some apartment buildings. If I’m doing it a lot I use the parking garage so I don’t bother the apartment tenants.