Fitness is a reflection of our lifestyle. It is then no surprise that studies show that fitness is a strong predictor of heart disease and death. However, we can modify our fitness and epidemiological studies show that even small increases in fitness reduce the risk of heart disease and premature death.
High intensity exercise seems to be the best way to improve fitness. However, most people cite lack of time as a barrier to exercise. However, studies show that you do not need a large time commitment to see fitness gains. No equipment? Also no problem. You can use your local stairs!
A recently published study tested the effect of different 10 minute training protocols (including a warm up and cool down period) involving climbing of stairs, performed 3x per week for 6 weeks, on fitness in 31 sedentary but otherwise healthy women. The study found that stair climbing using either 3×20 seconds interspersed with 2 minute recovery or 3×60 seconds interspersed with 60 seconds of recovery improved fitness after 6 weeks.
So if you are pressed for time and lack equipment, hit the local stairs. A half an hour weekly commitment could get you fit just in time for the spring.
Nina Zisko, PhD student at CERG