Health & wellbeing

Move over, 10,000 steps; the latest research from Tulane University suggests that taking as few as 50 steps and climbing stairs each day can significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Published in Atherosclerosis, this study reveals that ascending more than five flights of stairs daily could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by a striking 20%.

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), coronary artery disease, and stroke stand as the leading causes of morbidity and mortality globally.

The Tulane study, utilizing data from the UK Biobank collected from 450,000 adults, assessed participants’ susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases based on family history, established risk factors, and genetic predispositions. Researchers also surveyed participants about their lifestyle habits and frequency of stair climbing, with a median follow-up time of 12.5 years.

The findings unveiled that daily stair climbing significantly lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially for those who were deemed less susceptible. Dr. Lu Qi, co-corresponding author of the study and professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, emphasized the potential benefits of stair climbing for individuals unable to meet conventional physical activity recommendations. "Short bursts of high-intensity stair climbing are a time-efficient way to enhance cardiorespiratory fitness and improve lipid profiles," he stated. "These findings underscore the potential advantages of stair climbing as a primary preventive measure for ASCVD in the general population."

The study not only highlights the efficacy of daily stair climbing but also suggests that even those at higher risk of heart disease can offset this risk through regular stair climbing. Dr. Qi emphasized the accessibility and affordability of stairs, making them a practical means of incorporating exercise into daily routines.

"This research provides groundbreaking evidence for the protective effects of stair climbing against the risk of ASCVD, particularly for individuals with multiple ASCVD risk factors," Qi stated. With these findings, it appears that a simple flight of stairs could be the key to a healthier heart for many.