In last week's blog post, we discussed the benefits of running: how it is good for your heart and lungs; how it can reduce stress; and how it gets you outside in the Colorado sunshine. This week we are taking it up a notch though -- and we mean literally. We are talking about the benefits of running (wait for it)...stairs.
Ugh, we know. Stairs? Is there anything more brutal than forcing your body up and down flights of stairs for the sake of a workout? I mean, that is why they created elevators, right?
Stairs, while a killer workout, are excellent for your physical and mental health. Here are three reasons why:
1. Plyometrics (aka "Plyo" or "Jump Training")
If you are not familiar with the term, plyometrics are exercises in which your muscles are exerting maximum force in short intervals of time (think any exercise that includes jumping, like jump squats or burpees). Essentially, "plyo" workouts are great for conditioning and increasing coordination, among other things, and running stairs is a form of plyometrics. You are building muscle while also working your cardiovascular system (win-win).
2. Improve Endurance
Studies have shown that running stairs can improve your aerobic endurance. One study actually found that a "progressive stair climbing routine resulted in a 17% increase in VO2max"- the measure of your aerobic endurance.
3. Working Your Muscles
Another benefit of running stairs includes strengthening your calf and hamstring muscles, as well as working your abs. And when you go back down the stairs, you are working hip flexors and quadriceps. Of course, if you are really awesome and add a weighted vest or dumbbells to your workout, you will also build arm muscles.
Have we convinced you yet? The key to a healthy physical and mental workout routine is variation, so we don't recommend running stairs every day, or even every other day for that matter. But it is an important and beneficial workout we recommend trying out, at least a few times a month.