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Exercise Behavior Cardio-Vascular Good Medicine

Skip the Elevator: Walk 5 Flights of Stairs & Slash Heart Disease Risk

8 months, 1 week ago

5388  0
Posted on Oct 11, 2023, 1 p.m.

Article courtesy of Dr. Joel Kahn, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, one of the world's top cardiologists, a best-selling author, lecturer, and a leading expert in plant-based nutrition and holistic care.

Without a doubt, fitness, endurance, and exercise are fundamental steps in long-term health. A concept was introduced a few years ago called NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or movement and fitness in daily life, not the gym, that matters for health. Climbing stairs, rather than the elevator, is one form of NEAT that many people could choose during their daily lives.

Could taking the stairs reduce heart disease risks? Now there is a new study that examines the relationship between stair climbing and heart disease. 


The prospective study used data on 458,860 adult participants from the UK Biobank. Information about stair climbing, sociodemographic, and lifestyle factors was collected at baseline and a survey 5 years after baseline. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) was defined as coronary artery disease (CAD), ischemic stroke (IS), or acute complications.

Associations between flights of stair climbing and ASCVD were examined as hazard ratios (HRs).

Patients were stratified by levels of genetic risk score (GRS), 10-year risks of ASCVD, and self-reported family history of ASCVD.


During a median of 12.5 years of follow-up, 39,043 ASCVD, 30,718 CAD, and 10,521 IS cases were recorded.

 Compared with the reference group (reported climbing stairs 0 times/day at baseline), the multivariable-adjusted HRs for ASCVD were 0.97, 0.84 (0.82–0.87), 0.78, 0.77, and 0.81, for stair climbing of 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, 16–20 and ≥21 times/day, respectively.  The more stairs climbed the lower the risk of ASCVD. Comparable results were obtained for CAD and IS.

Compared with people who reported no stair climbing (<5 times/d) at two examinations, those who climbed stairs at baseline and then stopped at resurvey experienced a 32% higher risk of ASCVD, perhaps because they became too ill to continue to climb stairs.


Climbing more than five flights of stairs (approx 50 steps) daily was associated with a lower risk of ASCVD types independent of disease susceptibility including stroke.

Participants who stopped stair climbing between the baseline and resurvey had a higher risk of ASCVD compared with those who never climbed stairs.

An author of the research project said "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. These findings highlight the potential advantages of stair climbing as a primary preventive measure for ASCVD in the general population."

BOTTOM LINE: Use NEAT activities like climbing stairs rather than taking escalators and elevators to reduce your risk of heart disease.

About the author: At his core, Dr. Joel Kahn believes that plant-based nutrition is the most powerful source of preventative medicine on the planet. Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, it was only after his own commitment to a plant-based vegan diet that Dr. Kahn truly began to delve into the realm of non-traditional diagnostic tools, prevention tactics, and nutrition-based recovery protocols.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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NOTE: image changed on 10/18/2023

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