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Daily Walking Up Stairs Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

We've known for a while that exercise and physical activity lower the risk of developing heart disease. It turns out that a good exercise that many of us do in the course of ordinary life is walking up and down stairs. Yes, that counts!

A large study (458,860 adults) used data from the UK (Biobank). They found that walking up 5 flights of stairs (about 50 steps) daily was associated with a 20% lower risk of developing heart disease (including ischemic strokes) after 5 years.

Interestingly, persons who were stair climbers at the beginning of the study, but then stopped at some point during the 5 year length of the study had a higher risk of heart disease than those who never climbed stairs.

Bottom line: Walk up stairs whenever you can. It's good for your heart!

From Science Daily: Walking more than five flights of stairs a day can cut risk of heart disease by 20 percent, study says

Forget walking 10,000 steps a day. Taking at least 50 steps climbing stairs each day could significantly slash your risk of heart disease, according to a new study from Tulane University.

The study, published in Atherosclerosis, found that climbing more than five flights of stairs daily could reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by 20%.

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) along with coronary artery disease and stroke are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

"Short bursts of high-intensity stair climbing are a time-efficient way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lipid profile, especially among those unable to achieve the current physical activity recommendations," said co-corresponding author Dr. Lu Qi, HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "These findings highlight the potential advantages of stair climbing as a primary preventive measure for ASCVD in the general population."

Using UK Biobank data collected from 450,000 adults, the study calculated participants' susceptibility to cardiovascular disease based on family history, established risk factors and genetic risk factors and surveyed participants about their lifestyle habits and frequency of stair climbing. Median follow-up time was 12.5 years.

Qi touted the public availability of stairs as a low-cost, accessible way to incorporate exercise into daily routines. "This study provides novel evidence for the protective effects of stair climbing on the risk of ASCVD, particularly for individuals with multiple ASCVD risk factors," Qi said.

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