Sneaky Workout: Stairs

In case you’re new to the onbalance blog or missed my guest blog post on The Work At Home Woman last week about sneaking in exercise while the kids are at the playground, I’ll let you know that this idea of finding bits of time for fitness is central to my well-being and my work.

You won’t be surprise, then, when I found myself with a spare half-hour today between a client appointment and a doctor’s appointment* and knowing that I had a high-intensity workout on the schedule for today, I thought that I could make good use of the time between appointments. I first thought about going for a run, but I was dressed in long pants and had on a regular bra, so running in the already-70 degree-plus weather was not an option. As I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that the building where my appointment was located was several stories tall. Add in the basement, and I had five floors of fitness at my disposal. It was time to do a stair workout.

There are some logistical considerations when choosing to do a stair workout:
First and foremost, make sure that you will be able to reopen the stairwell door once on the inside. I simply asked someone in the hallway to let me out if I couldn’t get the door back open as a test.
Next, walk up a few flights to gently warm up the body. You’ll also find a landing between floors on which to stash your bag so you don’t have to carry it with you or worry that someone will dash off with it.
As you climb the stairs, make sure to step fully on each riser, with as little of the heel hanging off the back of the step as possible. Doing so will prevent seriously sore achilles heels and calves the next day!
While you may want to pump your arms as you ascend the stairs, I strongly suggest holding the handrail as you descend. As your legs get more tired and your heart rate increases, trying to move quickly down the stairs can turn into a disaster if you lose your balance. The handrail can prevent a fall.

There are several ways you can approach doing the stairs as a workout. Certainly, a straightforward single-step-at-a-time method will give you a good workout. To increase the cardio intensity, try jogging up the stairs. Or if you want a strength workout that will also get your heartrate up, ascend the stairs two-at-a-time and then jog single stairs back down to the bottom. You can, of course, mix up these strategies to keep things interesting. Just keep moving!

For those of you who think this is a crazy idea, perhaps you’ll feel better knowing that in the twenty-five minutes I was in the stairwell, not a single other person used the stairs. (Which is, quite possibly, the reason we need lots of multi-story medical buildings….but I digress…..) When I finished my workout, I popped back out into the hallway, found a water fountain for a drink, then went back outside to stretch and cool off for five minutes. At the end of that five minutes, my heart rate was lower but not fully recovered, indicating I got a really good workout in my “downtime.”

Sneaky exercise saves the busy mom once again!

*I now know that despite the awesomeness of this workout, it is ill-advised to do it just before a mammogram. It is very difficult to stand perfectly still and hold one’s breath after such a high-intensity cardio workout. My jello legs were not doing me any favors, either. But onward and squishward went the mammogram machine anyway, and I’m hopeful for a clear report next week.


One response to “Sneaky Workout: Stairs

  1. Pingback: Summer Blog Tour 2010 «

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