It’s a leading cause of death worldwide – poor heart health. But a new study shows you can cut your risk by climbing just 50 stairs a day.

They’re everywhere and free of charge.

Dr. Danny Luger is a preventive cardiologist at Rush Hospital.

“You’re engaging the large muscles in your legs and you’re increasing the workload, so the heart rate spikes up and you’re getting a muscular engagement,” he said.

Think of the staircase as a gym. And with every step – there are about 10 per flight – your heart health climbs.

“Coronary events or cardiovascular events, strokes and heart attacks were reduced by 20 percent just going from minimally active to slightly active,” Luger said.

That’s what Tulane University researchers learned after evaluating data from more than 450,000 adults in the United Kingdom – a 20 percent reduction if you skip the elevator and take the stairs. 

“Going from sedentary to minimally active really confers the greatest cardiovascular benefit so just even a little bit of movement is beneficial to the heart and can change your cardiometabolic profile significantly,” Luger said.

Unlike walking on a flat surface – which has various benefits – climbing stairs is a form of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity. The quick, intense bursts of movement are known to increase longevity, reduce cancer risk, and lower the chances of developing diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

“And so you can really decrease your circulating glucose levels, your lipid levels and your blood pressure by increasing your physical activity just by going upstairs.”

If you don’t have five stories – climb one or two flights a few times daily to reach the goal.

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