A recent study conducted by Tulane University has found that individuals can significantly reduce their risk of heart disease by taking a minimum of 50 steps and climbing stairs daily, thereby challenging the conventional belief of walking 10,000 steps a day.
Published in Atherosclerosis, the study has found that climbing more than five flights of stairs daily can reduce the 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. Therefore, identifying simple and effective preventive measures is crucial.
“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 assessed participants’ vulnerability to cardiovascular disease. The assessment considered family history, established risk factors, and genetic elements.
Additionally, participants were surveyed about their lifestyle habits and the frequency of stair climbing.
The median follow-up time was 12.5 years.
The study found that individuals who climbed more stairs daily experienced a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly among those who were less susceptible.
However, Dr Qi said the increased risk of heart disease in more susceptible people could be “effectively offset” by daily stair climbing.
Dr 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,” Dr Qi said.