Two students choose the stairs in NYU's Kimmel Center for University Life

Stairs are a great way to slash calories and build gluteal and leg muscles. Taking the stairs to your office or apartment can count towards your daily exercise. Especially with the long elevator wait in the city sky scrapers’, the stairs can also be much faster.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg understands the significance of taking the stairs over the elevator. He recently proposed a legislation that would encourage New Yorkers to skip the elevator and take the stairs instead by making staircases in city buildings more appealing. He would require newly constructed stairways to be equipped with glass doors, and call for staircases to be designed with artwork and even blasting music in the stairways.

For those who don’t get the hint, signs that read: “Burn Calories, Not Electricity–Take the Stairs” will be posted by the elevator inside the buildings. So now when I walk into a building, I feel a guilt trip for pressing the elevator button.

The staircase can also be used for your daily cardio workout. On rainy or snowy days when a trip to the gym is too much to ask of and running outdoors is not an option, I use the stairs in my 18-story dorm building for my cardio exercise.

Below are some staircase exercises I came up with. These can be done during your lunch break at the office, at the hotel during your vacation, or your home staircase, for just 30 minutes a day!

But before you begin, fill up 2 water bottles. Leave one at the bottom of the staircase and one at the top, so that you can stay hydrated throughout your workout.

[If you have any health concerns, especially knee problems, please consult your doctor or physician before performing any exercise posted on this blog. Lil’ Fit Birdie is concerned for your health, but is not responsible for any injuries! Happy workout!]

1. Interval training: Start at the basement and walk up 3 flights of stairs. Then run up 3 flights of stairs. Alternate walking and running until you reach the top. When you’ve worked up your endurance, try 5 flights each. On the ways down, walk down 3 flights of stairs, then run down the next 3 flights. Repeat this 3 times, taking water breaks between sets. Once you’ve built up your endurance, shoot for 5 reps.

2. High-knees: Walk up the stairs as you normally would. Then, on the way down, jog down the steps, lifting your knees to a 90° degree angle at each step. Alternate high-knees and jogging down all the way to the basement.

3. Toddler staircase runs: Toddlers usually place both feet on each step as they go up and down the stairs. For this exercise, we’re going to do just that, but running instead, working on our agility and calf muscles. Place your right foot on the first step, then your left foot on the same step. Continue in the same manner until you reach the top of the staircase. Then do the same on the way down. This exercise can be done on a single flight of stairs or multiple.

4. Side-steps: Start with your feet pointing towards the handrail, so that you are turned sideways to the staircase. Perform the toddler staircase runs, but keeping your feet pointed toward the handrail the entire time. Go down the stairs in the same way. Be attentive while performing this exercise and don’t go too fast!

Just 30 minutes of performing these exercises consecutively can have you burning fat and gaining muscle. Don’t let the sore muscles stop you!

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