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Stairs: One Small Step for one Big Change for Your Health

Why and how to begin: Taking the stairs as part of your everyday routine will make your daily life much more active and healthier

More and more of us spend our lives in front of different screens either at work or at home, and for most hours of the day, we are not really required to get up from the chair. Strain, pressure, additional tasks awaiting us – they all make it all the more unlikely that many of us will engage in initiated physical activity after the work hours. And what about the way from home to work and back? In many cases, it mainly involves using the elevator and driving by car.

This sedentary lifestyle does not really benefit our health. It is against the World Health Organization's recommendations for an adequate level of physical activity: 150 minutes (about two and a half hours) a week of mild-intensity physical activity. What do we do? We identify opportunities for physical activity and make the best of them, opportunities that each and every one of us have in our daily life. In order words, we start using the most available, nearest, and most accessible "gym" around: the staircase.

The Benefits of Taking the Stairs

  • Taking the stairs accelerates metabolism in the long term
  • Taking the stairs improves blood indices (fats, glucose, and more), the skeletal-muscular system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, and so on.
By taking the stairs, we burn
250% more calories than by swimming
150% more calories than by tennis
63% more calories than by riding a bicycle
23% more calories than by running
400% more calories than by walking
700% more calories than by taking the elevator

So why doesn't everyone use the stairs?

  • Stairways are frequently unlit, unclean, and unappealing 
  • Some people live or work at high floors
  • In some workplaces, the employees sometimes don’t know where the stairs are located, or the stairs are relatively far away from the elevator
  • Pressure, a need to go fast, strenuous workload
  • Habit

So, how do we begin? Tips for making the first step

  • Link the action of going up the stairs with regular events in your workday: For example, in the morning when still fresh, use the opportunity to take the stairs down from home and up to your office at work, or take the stairs on your to a lunch break.
  • Do you live or work at a high floor? Take the stairs some of the ways. Make it a habit to get out of the elevator a floor or two before your destination floor.
  • In the mall, in the bank, when running errands – make it a habit to prefer going up the stairs than taking the escalators or the elevators.

Further reading

Recommended Physical Activities on the Ministry of Health's Website (Hebrew)
The World Health Organization's (WHO) Guide for Physical Activities for Adults (18-64 years)
Guide for Physical Activities for Adults (18-64 years), Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology