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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Like many people, I am now working at home. Unfortunately, with my schedule, I have not been able to work out regularly, outside of running downstairs for a quick snack between meetings. What can I do at home for exercise?
ANSWER: You don't need fancy gym equipment to get a good workout. You certainly do not even need to leave your home. Squeeze some quick exercise into your day by simply stepping onto your stairs.
Research shows that stair-climbing helps strengthen and tone your leg muscles. It keeps your leg arteries flexible, allowing blood to move more easily. Better blood flow in your legs equals a healthier heart and body.
Taking a three-minute stroll up and down the stairs after a meal also may help you control your blood sugar. Skimp on sleep last night? If you're a young woman, stair-climbing may wake you up better than a small cup of coffee.
A simple stroll up and down the stairs gives you an aerobic workout. But you can get an even greater health boost by adding in a few resistance and balance-related moves.
Step up your daily exercise routine with these five simple stair exercises:
1. Stair pushup
2. Stair crawl
3. Stair lunge
4. Step up
5. Side step
Good balance is a must for any stair activity. Before starting any type of stair exercise, make sure you are steady on your feet. If you cannot stand on one leg for 45 seconds without holding onto something, you may not be able to safely perform some of these exercises. If you aren't sure if you should give them a try, ask your health care provider if stair exercises are safe for you.
And, last, put your phone down. Scrolling through social media, or answering a text or call during a stair exercise, could lead to a dangerous misstep and fall. — Dr. Thomas Rizzo Jr., Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida
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