A picture speaks a thousand words, or not. This photo shows a stark contrast between the usage of escalator and that of stairs. I regret not capturing the queue of commuters squeezing to get up the escalator (bottom left corner).
Mention stairs climbing, and many of us would think of it as what we turn to when the elevator or escalator is down. I use the stairs wherever necessary in my daily commute. It is not difficult to see why, with reference to the picture above. Beyond that, stairs climbing is also one of my favourite work-outs. Why so? I am delighted to share more here.
It is weather-proof. Stairs climbing takes place indoors. Being sheltered allows me to carry on my training without the harshness or inconveniences by meteorological elements.
I have easy access, almost always! Singapore is a land-scarce city state. Many of us live and/or work in high rise buildings. All these make vertical training perfectly convenient for me.
It is gear-lite. I don’t need a cap or the shades. I do need my trusty old watch to record my time lapse. On conditioning days, I would carry a weighted backpack or attach ankle weights to add some resistance. Otherwise, on most days, I put on my usual running attire, and I am ready to go.
Less time, more effort, greater impact. When it comes to stairs climbing, we are working against gravity. The amount of effort is at least twice each step. We are working on our endurance, balancing and strengthening. We use our lower limbs to ambulate ourselves upwards, and engage our core muscles to balance ourselves with each stride. At times, we also use our upper limbs to pull ourselves up by grabbing on the stairs handles. Our whole body gets pumped up within a relatively short period of time.
I can mix high impact with low. To me, stairs training is like taking the stadium vertically. I can run repetitions of 10 floors with maximum efforts. I can also walk up 40 storeys at a steady pace, repeating for 2 or 3 sets. If I want to, I can also mix speed work with long steady climbing. Such variety makes stairs training interesting for me.
I get rewarded with nice views! Perhaps, the most satisfying part is reaching the top floor (not the roof top) and get to see from the top. Here’s what I get when I reach the top floor of my public housing block. Far in the background is the city.
With all these said, I would suggest, stairs training is all but perfect for me.
From a safety perspective, being in an enclosed environment could be risky. I make sure to be on my toes of anything amiss and suspicious about the stair well. For night climbing, I will join a group to train together. Climbing flight after flight of stairs can become monotonous after a while. You get used to (bored of) the walls, landings, and the same look-out view from the building depending on where your stair well is.
Recently, I started to down-climb as well. Most of us have the impression that going down the stairs hurts and harms our knees. Personally, I fear of missing a step down and tripping over. The truth is, when done correctly and safely, down climbing could work the four muscles in our quadriceps (front thigh). So now, after reaching the top floor, I do a slow climb down, taking care not to miss a step. It is also a good way to let my heart rate go down gradually before taking the next flight up.
Do you like or do stairs climbing too? I look forward to hear your whys, whats, hows and many more.
- Public Housing – A Singapore Icon. http://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/about-us/our-role/public-housing–a-singapore-icon. Last reviewed 26 October 2015. Accessed 27 October 2017
- Health Benefits of Stairs Climbing. https://www.stepjockey.com/health-benefits-of-stair-climbing . Last reviewed 2017. Accesed 27 October 2017
- Swope, Bob. Learn’n More about Track and Field: Handbook/Guide for Kids, Parents, and Coaches. Jacobob Press. 2008.