Climbing Stairs Is Great for Your Health and Prevents Falls as You Get Old – 7/20/2022

According to the Ministry of Health, falls are very common and can cause devastating problems for the elderly.

While not an inevitable consequence of aging, tumbles can signal the onset of frailty or indicate acute illness.

Agência Brasil reinforces that “falls are the third leading cause of mortality among people over 65 years of age in Brazil and 70% of falls happen indoors. including fractures, hospitalizations, reduced independence and depression. Also according to the Ministry of Health, 30% of people in this age group fall at least once a year and, of these, about 25% need to be hospitalized”.

If you are already old or young and you are concerned about longevity and quality of life as you get older, it is important to point out that some strategies are efficient to prevent falls from increasing with age.

If you live in a building or work in a place where there are stairs and you somehow avoid them — out of laziness or even fear of tripping or falling — know that climbing a few flights of stairs daily can help preserve your balance at all times. as you age and also prevent the reduction of strength and muscle mass (a process called sarcopenia, which happens with advancing age) in the legs.

If you don’t go up stairs for fear, there’s no problem using the handrail. You will work the balance in the same way and recruit the muscles of the lower limbs. You can vary stair exercises by going up the stairs quickly; two by two; doing lunges; lifting your heels to work your calves etc — here are 9 exercises to strengthen your whole body on the stairs.

start slow

For people with more difficulty moving around, it is necessary to climb stairs safely and always start progressively, little by little.

Start on the stairs of a building or square. Go on setting goals to climb more and more stairs, contracting your core muscles more and more (abdomen, lower back and hip regions) and trying not to put all your weight on the railing. The important thing is to go little by little and be aware that, to evolve, you need to start.

Over time, you can include weight training exercises (with the help and guidance of a professional) to strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves muscles, in addition to performing mobility and balance exercises.

See benefits of climbing stairs

Strengthening the lower limbs The activity mobilizes the hip, knee, and ankle joints, as well as strengthening the muscles of the lower limbs, including quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. In the leg lift movement, we work the hip flexors and gluteus medius to help maintain balance, lower back and abdomen as you lean your torso and foot muscles. As we age, it is even more important to strengthen all these muscles, because age-related reduction in musculature and strength can increase the risk of falls, as reinforced at the beginning of the text.

Maintenance of mobility This ability is critical to maintaining independence throughout age. Climbing stairs keeps your joints healthy by helping with range of motion. With this, it improves mobility, because it requires the use of the ankle, knee and hip joints. In addition to being a very dynamic exercise, it requires strength and balance. While climbing stairs doesn’t specifically improve flexibility, range of motion can help keep the body’s elasticity in check.

Increases your cardiovascular fitness Climbing stairs is an aerobic workout, which means it strengthens your heart and improves your breathing capacity. A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism analyzed a group of sedentary adults who quickly climbed three flights of stairs three times a day, three times a week, for six weeks, with a rest break of one to four hours in between. The study showed that climbing stairs helped improve cardiovascular fitness, with the average time to climb stairs decreasing over the six-week period. Additionally, research suggests that the cardiovascular fitness benefits of climbing stairs are comparable to walking a mile. Another study showed that both people who climbed seven floors twice a day, five days a week, for a month; how much people who walked a mile on a treadmill for the same amount of time enjoyed improvements in cardiovascular fitness.

Improved bone density Climbing stairs forces you to work against gravity, conditioning your bones to take a load and therefore strengthening them, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. This helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by a reduction in mineral content and disruption in the microarchitecture of bone tissue. The disease is silent and painless, accompanied by the risk of fractures, making it a worrying problem for the elderly. In addition to susceptibility to fractures, biomechanical changes in posture also occur.

References:

NIH Exercise for Your Bone Health. Available at: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health

NIH Maintaining mobility and preventing disability are key to living independently as we age. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/maintaining-mobility-and-preventing-disability-are-key-living-independently-we-age

E. Madison Jenkins, Leah N. Nairn, Lauren E. Skelly, Jonathan P. Little, and Martin J. Gibala. Do stair climbing exercise “snacks” improve cardiorespiratory fitness?. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 44(6): 681-684. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2018-0675

Ministry of Health. Elderly falls. Available at: https://bvsms.saude.gov.br/quedas-de-idosos/

Donath L, Faude O, Roth R, Zahner L. Effects of stair-climbing on balance, gait, strength, resting heart rate, and submaximal endurance in healthy seniors. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Apr;24(2):e93-101. doi: 10.1111/sms.12113. Epub 2013 Aug 27. PMID: 24033611.

CDC. Keep on Your Feet—Preventing Older Adult Falls. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html

Brazil Agency. Falls are the 3rd leading cause of death for elderly people over 65 years of age in Brazil. Available at: https://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/radioagencia-nacional/geral/audio/2022-04/quedas-sao-3a-causa-de-mortes-para-idosos-acima-de-65-anos -in Brazil

International Conference on Movement, Health and Exercise: “Comparison between Stair Climbing and 1 Mile Walking in Relation to Cardiorespiratory Fitness Among Sedentary Adults”. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-10-3737-5_4?noAccess=true