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Age Well With Everyday Activity

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If you live in an apartment building or a multi-story house, you may dread taking the stairs each day. And, if you're older, you might think that dodging the stairs means you're less likely to stumble and trip. However, in reality, walking up a couple of flights of steps actually does plenty to preserve your balance as you age.

Keeping active with essential everyday activity improves health.

“Even though you can use a railing for assistance, the exercise of climbing stairs improves balance because you’re needing to balance on one leg as you press into one leg and lift the other leg onto the same or next step,” says Laura Flynn Endres, CPT, a California-based personal trainer who works with older adults.

Livestrong’s recent article, entitled “Want to Age Well? This Everyday Activity Improves Balance and Prevents Falls,” says that standing on one leg (as you do when climbing stairs) also helps strengthen a variety of muscles, including your core, glutes, quads, and calves. However, the benefits of stair climbing don’t stop there. Here are all the reasons you may want to skip the elevator and use the stairs.

  1. Everyday activity provides Lower-Body Strength. Basic movement, such as climbing, moves your hip, knee, and ankle joints, so the stairs can help strengthen all the muscles in your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. You’ll also work your hip flexors w
  2. Everyday activity Improves Balance. When you raise your leg, your gluteus medius [minor glute muscle] helps keep you balanced, your lower back and abs as you lean into the stairs, and the muscles of your feet — especially if your heel hangs off the step when you climb. Strengthening these muscles is vital as you age because age-related muscle loss can increase your risk for falls.
  3. Everyday activity helps You Maintain Mobility. This is critical to keeping your independence later in life. Mobility exercises help to keep your joints in top shape by moving them through their full range of motion. Climbing stairs can improve mobility because it requires the use of the ankle, knee, and hip joints. It’s a reasonably dynamic exercise that involves power, Balance, and strength.
  4. Everyday activity increases Your Cardiovascular Fitness. Climbing stairs itself is a cardio workout. That means it strengthens your heart and improves your aerobic capacity. Researchers of a small February 2017 study at the ​International Conference on Movement, Health and Exercise​ found that people who climbed seven floors twice a day, five days a week for a month, and people who walked one mile on a treadmill for the same amount of time all saw improvements in their cardio fitness.
  5. Everyday Activity Improves Bone Density. Contrary to what many think, your bones get stronger with exercise. Any weight-bearing practice, such as climbing stairs, makes you work against gravity, conditioning your bones to take on load and, therefore, strengthening them, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. This helps prevent the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones become weak and brittle, which increases with age.

Keep as active as possible, and you reinforce that you already know so well that small steps, taken consistently, make a difference.

Reference: Livestrong (July 17, 2022) “Want to Age Well? This Everyday Activity Improves Balance and Prevents Falls”