One exercise that I really love and do as often as I can is walking, running or just using the stairs.
Whether it is the stairs on the beach, in a college stadium, or even the StairMaster at the gym, I really feel like each and every step is a challenge, pushing me mentally and physically.
Running stairs outdoors, my absolute favorite, is a great cardiovascular activity, not to mention the wonders it does for the lower body. There are so many different variations of stairs that can be done, you should definitely give it a try, presuming that you do not have any medical conditions, for example, knee issues -- stairs are serious stuff.
When running stairs you always want to make sure you are focused, ready and your core is engaged. Make sure that every step you take you focus on that single step, make every single one count.
Most of your weight is going to be on the front half of your foot for the most explosive power up those stairs, especially the faster that you go. This works the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves and can be a great alternative to an ordinary cardio workout -- stay creative to stay motivated.
The heart rate increases pretty rapidly when running stairs, so I like to do stairs in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with a 60 to 90 second rest. If you need more time to rest, take some; listen to your body because these stairs can be amazingly brutal.
Work your way up, you cannot conquer the stairs the first time, or any time, luckily. Here is an example of a stair workout I did the other day on a single staircase that was about 50 steps high. One repetition is equivalent to one time up and down the stairs, starting at the bottom of the stairs.
The stair variation listed on this workout is meant to be done on the way up the stairs, and the way down is just a medium tempo one step at a time and an opportunity to breath but still working hard.
Warm up: 20 jumping jacks, 20 walking high knees, 20 running high knees, 20 walking lunges, times three. Then:
5 x moderate-jogging pace
Rest 60-90 seconds
3 x skip-a-step moderate-jogging pace
1 x sprint
1 x bunny hops (both feet together hopping up the steps)
Rest 60-90 seconds
2 x sprint
2 x skip-a-step sprint
3 x moderate/jogging pace
rest 60-90 seconds
Repeat 3-5 times
Another way to incorporate stairs into your everyday crazy, hectic, busy life is to just simply take the stairs.
When you are on vacation, at the mall, in an office building, at the movies, in a concert hall, walking in a city with a lot of stairs or any other opportunity, do it. The recommended daily amount of steps per day is 10,000 -- how much more awesome would it be if some of those steps were up stairs?
Combined with a lot of little healthy habits, it will always make a difference.
When I went to college at Cal State Long Beach, there were a lot of stairs going across campus and inside buildings once I got to class. This was something that I actually liked about being in school there. Even though I was busy, had not gotten much sleep and couldn't work out all the time, I knew that my little efforts of taking the stairs every single day multiple times a day would definitely pay off.
Plus, using the stairs has always been a workout that I really enjoy. Remember to try a lot of different things so you can find out what works for you. How do you know you don't like or "can't" do something unless you try it?
Keep an open mind, keep working out, keep being healthy and fit for life.
Lunden Souza can be reached at email@example.com.