Don't have time to work out, you say? Don't have access to a gym or equipment, you say? If those are your reasons for not improving your cardiovascular fitness, check this out: New research from McMaster University shows that ten minutes of stair climbing -- ten minutes that includes warming up, cooling down, and recovering between sets -- measurably improved cardiovascular fitness.
Researchers tried two different protocols:
- One experiment had a previously sedentary group do three 20-second climbs in an "all out manner." First they warmed up, then they recovered between sets, then they cooled down, which is why the whole routine took ten minutes. (Because you need to climb for 20 seconds, you'll need a series of stairs or bleachers.)
- The second experiment had a previously sedentary group "climb vigorously" up and down one flight of stairs for 60 seconds. (Since you go up and down one set of stairs for 60 seconds, all you need is a two-story home, or office building, or, well, if you can't find a flight of stairs somewhere, you really don't want to work out.)
Both workouts were performed three times a week for six weeks.
The results? Both protocols, each involving a total time commitment of 30 minutes a week, increased cardio-respiratory fitness, one metric that is linked to a variety of health benefits, including longevity. (Or, in my case, likely one of the factors that helped me survive a heart attack.)
Best of all, it's an extremely efficient way to improve your health. After all, we're talking thirty minutes a week, all in.
"Interval training offers a convenient way to fit exercise into your life," says Martin Gibala, professor of kinesiology at McMaster, "rather than having to structure your life around exercise."
Keep in mind, "climb vigorously" means different things to different people. If you're in good shape, you may need to sprint up and down. If you're just starting out, "vigorously" may mean more of a jog. The goal is to get your heart rate up. (For more on interval training, check this out -- including how it can help turn back your body's biological clock.)
And there you go: Now you have no excuse to not improve your cardio fitness. All you need is a flight of stairs and ten minutes, three times a week.
No matter how busy you are, you definitely have that.