I don't have much time to exercise, so I try to fit in exercise during the day, such as taking the stairs. Does that count as exercise?
Answer From Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Yes. Climbing stairs is an example of a practical, everyday physical activity that provides health benefits. It can also burn off calories — about 65 calories in 15 minutes. Going at a faster pace or carrying heavier items can burn even more calories.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following activity levels for adults:
- Muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week
- At least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity
Aim to do physical activity for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can break it up into short chunks of time during the day. Some examples of physical activity include walking briskly, jogging or bicycling.
Taking the stairs can be one way to include physical activity into your daily routine. Some other ideas could include parking farther away from your destination, taking short walk breaks during the day, or doing yardwork or housework.
April 25, 2020
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- Physical activity and your heart. National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys. Accessed Jan. 19, 2017.
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/our-work/physical-activity/current-guidelines. Accessed March 27, 2020.
- Halsey LG, et al. The energy expenditure of stair climbing one step and two steps at a time: Estimations from measures of heart rate. PLoS One. 2012;7:e51213. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0051213. Accessed Jan. 19, 2017.
- Ainsworth BE, et al. The 2011 compendium of physical activities: Tracking guide. Compendium Physical Activities. https://sites.google.com/site/compendiumofphysicalactivities/home. Accessed Jan. 19, 2017.
- Bellicha A, et al. Stair use interventions in worksites and public settings – A systematic review of effectiveness and external validity. Preventive Medicine. 2014;70:3.