50 daily steps of stairs may reduce heart disease risk

50 daily steps of stairs may reduce heart disease risk

Climbing Stairs Daily: A Fun and Effective Way to Improve Heart Health

Walking up stairs

Walking up stairs daily might have significant benefits for cardiovascular health. Aurora D’Errico Prat/Stocksy

A new study has suggested that climbing 50 stair steps daily can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, blood clots, and heart attacks, by as much as 20%. This study, conducted using data from 458,860 adult participants in the UKBiobank, compared the cardiovascular health of those who climbed five flights of stairs a day to those who did not climb any stairs at all. The researchers found that climbing stairs regularly can significantly reduce the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in general.

The Science behind Stair Climbing and Heart Health

Stair climbing is a form of vigorous exercise that offers numerous benefits for heart health. Dr. Lu Qi, director of Tulane University’s Obesity Research Center and the corresponding author of the study, explains that climbing stairs can help lower various risk factors for heart disease. This activity aids in weight management, improves metabolic status and inflammation, and reduces the risk of diseases such as diabetes that can contribute to heart disease.

Compared to brisk walking, climbing stairs provides an enhanced form of aerobic exercise. Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, the medical director of the Structural Heart Program at Saddleback Medical Center, explains that this exercise engages multiple muscle groups in the body. By battling against gravity, stair climbing not only strengthens the lower body muscles but also works the core and lower back. According to Dr. Chen, climbing stairs provides three times as much exercise as walking on level ground in the same amount of time.

The Findings of the Study

The study analyzed data collected over 12.5 years and found that people who climbed 50 stairs daily reduced their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 20%. These benefits were observed in participants who were not considered at particular risk for CVD due to genetics, indicating that stair climbing can offset pre-existing risk factors. The study specifically focused on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which includes conditions such as stroke, heart attacks, and blood clots. However, the protective effects of stair climbing extend to CVD in general.

Stair Climbing: A Beneficial Exercise for All Ages

While stair climbing offers remarkable benefits for heart health, it’s important to note that it’s not the only form of exercise available. Dr. Chen advises against discouraging individuals from engaging in any physical activity that suits their abilities. He acknowledges that joint problems or other limitations can make climbing stairs challenging for some people. However, he emphasizes that even walking on level ground provides significant health benefits. Any form of exercise is better than being sedentary, and individuals should find activities that they can comfortably and safely participate in.

The Importance of Addressing Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a prevalent and serious health concern. In the United States, ASCVD affects 24 million people, accounting for about 10% of the population above the age of 21. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that CVD was responsible for one in every five deaths in the country in 2021, totaling approximately 695,000 individuals. Coronary heart disease, including conditions like angina, myocardial infarction, and coronary artery stenosis, is the leading cause of death in the Western world, claiming 370,000 lives each year.

Strokes, which are often caused by atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, are also a major concern. Annually, about 795,000 individuals in the United States experience a stroke, resulting in approximately 137,000 deaths. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the country.


Climbing stairs daily is not only a practical and accessible form of exercise but also a fun way to improve heart health. The new study provides compelling evidence to support the benefits of stair climbing in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition to cardiovascular benefits, this activity also offers advantages in weight management and metabolic health.

While stair climbing may not be suitable for everyone, it’s crucial to remember that any form of exercise is worthwhile for maintaining and improving health. Whether walking, climbing, or engaging in other activities, individuals can find enjoyable and beneficial ways to stay active. By prioritizing regular physical activity, we can take positive steps towards preventing and managing cardiovascular disease, promoting overall well-being, and leading healthier lives.