When I was an intern, I had an attending who always took the stairs.
Multiple times a day.
We’d be on the second floor and he’d announce “Let’s go see Mr. Smith.” He would take off to the 12th floor with a trail of panting residents and students spread out behind him. Here’s the punch line: Every summer he would take a vacation to climb a mountain. To get ready for the climb he did…nothing. Climbing the stairs was enough.
Why you should take the stairs
It is a great way to keep from gaining weight during med school and residency since it burns three times the calories of a brisk walk (even at a slow pace)
As little as two flights of stairs climbed per day can lead to losing 5-6 lbs of weight in a year.
You burn 8-11 kcals per minute climbing stairs.
Climbing stairs is essentially a series of vertical lunges. You’ll tone your leg muscles – good for both strength and appearance.
55 flights of stairs/week = overall decreased risk of mortality.
Tips on taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Even if you are fit, you’ll be out of breath climbing stairs. It’s normal.
Make sure you don’t overuse your calf muscles to power up the stairs – use your quads, hamstrings and gluts to protect your knees.
It’s ok to take the elevator down if you want to. Walking down stairs is actually much harder on your joints than taking the stairs up. If you choose to walk down, use the rails (it’s stupid to fall).
It’s ok to use the rails going up the stairs. It provides a little upper body workout and doesn’t really diminish the advantages of climbing stairs.
Want to add more? Find a more isolated stairwell and do additional exercises on the landings (e.g. crunches, burpees, pushups). Do “ladders” – up and down one flight, then two, then three, etc.
Want to go to the next level? There are actually “races” to climb the stairs of tall buildings.