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I Don't Trust Stairs

Updated: Mar 5

I don't trust stairs...they're always up to something...

Bad joke 🤦‍♂️ … ya I know… but stay with me (this is a quick read)...

A question I had from the clinic had to do with walking and taking the stairs...

What are the benefits of taking the stairs? How many stairs per day?

Is it better than walking?

First off, both are beneficial for many reasons.

The barrier of entry to both is low, very low.

It is doable even if you have to walk in your home or apartment.

A man ran a marathon in his Hong Kong apartment during the 2020 quarantine!

AND walking and taking the stairs are not mutually exclusive, you can do both!

The health benefits of walking start immediately; it is not an all or none scenario.

It’s not 10,000 steps or nothing.

The research shows that there is a non-linear dose response benefit to walking to decrease the rates of all cause mortality AND cardiovascular disease.

What is the number 1 cause of death in the United States in which one person dies every 36 seconds and up to an estimated 80% is preventable?

Yes, that is cardiovascular disease, to which walking aids in prevention.

Compared to 3742 steps/day, 5500 steps/day had a 17.74% lower CVD risk…9500 steps/day had a 42.94% lower CVD risk than the 3742 steps/day.

There is already significant benefit from walking 3742-5500 steps per day so do not stress about meeting the "10,000 steps a day" message.

If you can get outside to walk, even better.

Walking outside in forested areas for as little as 15 min can can help to improve sense of wellbeing and it positively affects many mood related traits.

So why take the stairs with all the benefits of walking?

Stairs come with a whole host of benefits.

Opting for the stairs like walking also lowers the risk of call cause mortality.

There is a health benefit starting at 2-3 floors per day (10-19 floors per week) with increasing benefit to 7-8 flights of stairs per day (55 floors per week).

Stair climbing places more load and demand on the musculoskeletal system which can help increase lower body strength (helpful in reducing risk of falls), increase bone density (helpful in those with osteoporosis), can be protective against developing metabolic syndrome, and improve vascular function.

Just like walking the benefits start quickly; those with hypertension saw improved vascular function walking 3 or more floors of stairs per day.

Is there a down side? Potentially, taking the stairs can be difficult or aggravating to those with a history of knee or hip pain; so always start easy and listen to your body while SLOWLY increasing to your tolerance. Those that have current injuries or recently had surgery should always consult with their healthcare provider.


The fact that walking more and taking the stairs is healthier, is likely not surprising...

but you know what is... how little changes add up quickly and make a significant change in the long term.

So tomorrow at work opt for the stairs instead of the elevator and next time you're at the grocery store park in the back.

Apps for where to go and tracking?

All Trails: access maps for local hiking trails

Step Counter - Pedometer: Tracks steps

Map My Walk: Track and map walk activity

Comment below with your favorite app!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 14). Heart disease facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from

Choi KW, Chen C, Stein MB, et al. Assessment of Bidirectional Relationships Between Physical Activity and Depression Among Adults: A 2-Sample Mendelian Randomization Study. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(4):399–408. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4175

Human resources. Benefits of Taking the Stairs | Human Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2022, from

Rey-Lopez, J. P., Stamatakis, E., Mackey, M., Sesso, H. D., & Lee, I.-M. (2019). Associations of self-reported stair climbing with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: The Harvard Alumni Health Study. Preventive Medicine Reports, 15, 100938.

Sheng M, Yang J, Bao M, Chen T, Cai R, Zhang N, Chen H, Liu M, Wu X, Zhang B, Liu Y, Chao J. The relationships between step count and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events: A dose-response meta-analysis. J Sport Health Sci. 2021 Dec;10(6):620-628. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2021.09.004. Epub 2021 Sep 20. PMID: 34547483; PMCID: PMC8724621.

Song C, Ikei H, Park BJ, Lee J, Kagawa T, Miyazaki Y. Psychological Benefits of Walking through Forest Areas. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Dec 10;15(12):2804. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15122804. Erratum in: Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 18;17(4): PMID: 30544682; PMCID: PMC6313311.

Taylor WR, Heller MO, Bergmann G, Duda GN. Tibio-femoral loading during human gait and stair climbing. J Orthop Res. 2004 May;22(3):625-32. doi: 10.1016/j.orthres.2003.09.003. PMID: 15099644.

Whittaker AC, Eves FF, Carroll D, Roseboom TJ, Ginty AT, Painter RC, de Rooij SR. Daily stair climbing is associated with decreased risk for the metabolic syndrome. BMC Public Health. 2021 May 14;21(1):923. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10965-9. PMID: 33990186; PMCID: PMC8122558.

Yamaji T, Harada T, Hashimoto Y, Nakano Y, Kajikawa M, Yoshimura K, Chayama K, Goto C, Han Y, Mizobuchi A, Yusoff FM, Kishimoto S, Maruhashi T, Nakashima A, Higashi Y. Stair climbing activity and vascular function in patients with hypertension. Hypertens Res. 2021 Oct;44(10):1274-1282. doi: 10.1038/s41440-021-00697-z. Epub 2021 Jul 16. PMID: 34272476.

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