Climbing stairs for exercise

Over the years I have been lucky enough to join a gym, but having Cerebral Palsy made it difficult for me to work out on some of their equipment.

It also never made any difference to the little muscle tone I have on my left side or my aerobic fitness because I am dealing with a brain injury and cannot exercise for long. I have recently taken to climbing stairs for exercise.

The following information may help other people think about this type of exercise.

The advantages of climbing stairs:

  • Climbing stairs is low impact and is safe on the knee joints;
  • It can be done any time of day;
  • Climbing stairs tones the leg muscles and supports the heart;
  • It allows us to burn many calories in a shorter period;
  • It’s something we can build up to very quickly;
  • It’s quick and easy and doesn’t cost a penny.

How to start:

  • If this isn’t something you do often start by climbing two flights of stairs, this will help the heart and muscles adjust;
  • Walk around the landing or march on the spot for a few minutes, so your body can adjust;
  • Carry on with this routine for around 10 to 15 minutes a week until you’re comfortable climbing more stairs;
  • Approximately add about 5 minutes more on to your routine a week or until you find the perfect level.

For any exercise, it’s important to wear the correct sports shoes; even for this type of exercise. An aerobic shoe or cross-trainer would be perfect. It’s also important to drink water before and after exercise so that you don’t begin to feel dizzy or flushed.

Always monitor your lower back and knees. It may not feel as though this kind of exercise is strenuous in comparison to other exercises, but a lot can go wrong if you fail to monitor your progress properly.

Stair climbing can be alternated with other exercises such as walking or cycling to avoid over injury, but as with all exercise; it is advisable to stretch and cool down after exercising.


24 Jun, 2011

14 thoughts on “Climbing stairs for exercise

  1. I climb stairs everyday when I work, sometimes carrying a 35 pound child up the stairs. I guess this would count as some exercise. It feels like exercise when I do it. It has gotten easier since the first time I did it.

    I don’t really do another exercise unless I take the dog for a walk when I get home.

    1. Obviously any walking up and down the stairs will help. You don’t say how many times you’re up and down the stairs at work.

      I presently walk up and down the stairs 12 or 13 times in succession then walk around the landing to cool down so that I don’t injure myself. It’s a very easy exercise to build up to.

  2. I was advised by my doctor to avoid stairs as much as possible years ago. They just strain my legs and my knees too much. I actually had to move out of an apartment because it was on the second floor of an old house.

    I used to have my office in the basement of the house but it moved to the main floor 14 years ago. It was much better for me and the family.

    It’s good to listen to your doctor to see what works best for you; because each case of CP is different.

    1. I totally agree Randy CP is of course different. I am mobile and have no problem with walking up and down stairs. As you say we’re all different particularly because we live with cerebral palsy, but I know I struggle with other exercise.

      Generally speaking, climbing stairs is particularly good exercise. It’s a case of finding something that works and sticking with it.

  3. I agree everyone’s exercise needs are different and if climbing stairs is an option then I think its a great exercise.

    I am quite fit but after walking up and down the stairs vigorously about a dozen times I can really feel the effects on my heart and legs.

  4. Walking up stairs and down are very difficult for me. I’d love to just regular walk without the back and leg pain that follows. What shoes are recommended for people with mild cp?

    1. This is a hard one Bonnie. I’m not sure there are any specific shoes that one size fits all.

      I struggled as a child to find any shoes to fit. In the end I had surgical shoes made for me, which had to be stretched and stretched again, because they still didn’t fit. In the end because I was so upset we went back to buying shoes off the high street.

      In my mid thirties I came across someone who suggested I wear orthotics and I’ve never looked back. Although orthotics aren’t always easy to wear and you have to fit the shoe around the orthotic, they do help align the body and help us to walk.

      When the body is back in alignment, we have less pain, which will help us to walk.

  5. I find climbing stairs very difficult. It feels like I have 30 lb weights on my ankles. I have to pull my entire body weight up with my arms using the railings.

    I’m currently waiting patiently for a downstairs apartment to open up so I don’t have to deal with these darn stairs!

    1. Thanks Bonnie. You can only do what you can do. If you find climbing the stairs difficult just go at your own pace. That’s what I do. If that causes other people problems, it’s their problems not yours.

      If there is a possibility of a ground floor apartment that would be great for you.

  6. Thank you Ilana. My daughter had back to school night on Thursday and we had to climb stairs to get to her English class.

    The elevator wasn’t working but it’s okay. I got to see her classroom and meet her teacher!

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