Why Do I get Winded Running Up Stairs?

Have you ever noticed how you breath heavier or even get winded when you’re climbing up stairs? In an old copy of the Sunday Boston Globe Parade section their was a question that asked why do I get winded climbing up stairs when I can easily run a mile on a treadmill?  They first mentioned the difference between rolling a suitcase compared to lifting up one and carrying it and how it’s a lot easier to roll it.  Joseph Signorile, Ph.D, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Miami compared running on a treadmill where you barely lift your body weight up and down and climbing up stairs. When your walking up a typical 45-degree staircase you’re required to move only 70% of your body weight against gravity. Dr. Signorile’s is the author of a book called Bending the Aging Curve.

(On a side note – looking at caloric expenditure and stair-climbing) From a New York Times article: “Stair climbing will give you a little more bang for your buck because of the vertical component,” states Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. Compared to jogging or cycling at a moderate pace without much of an incline, stair climbing, Dr. Bryant said, “will be a bit more challenging and therefore allow you to burn more calories for that same amount of time.” Dr. Bryant goes on to say in the article that walking up stairs at a moderate intensity should burn 5 calories a minute for a 120-pound person, 7 for a 150-pound person, and 9 for a 180-pound person. Running stairs multiplies the caloric burn and the cardiovascular benefit.

Of course there is not a better place for a great stair-climbing workout than Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, MA. Give them a try and you’ll then know why!


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