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MOVE: Free Workout Program


Every year since 1978, a group of intrepid runners gather at the foot of the Empire State Building to compete in a unique event. Participants will run from the bottom level to the observatory deck on the 86th floor. That’s a total of 1.576 steps. Most finish in less than 20 minutes, while the current record is just under 10 minutes.

Crazy? Hardly. Stair climbing is an increasingly popular way to squeeze a great aerobic workout into a short period of time. According to fitness experts, climbing stairs is among the most vigorous cardio workouts you can find. You’re lifting your center of mass vertically and, since your body weight is not supported as it is with an activity like swimming or rowing, you expend greater effort and burn more calories. Athletes have a long tradition of training by dashing up stadium stairs.

Stair climbing increases cardiovascular fitness as well as muscular endurance and strength. It works most of your leg muscles, especially the quadriceps (front of thighs) and buttocks, while requiring a tremendous amount of energy. Some "tower runners" (that’s what people who compete in events like the Empire State Building race are called) use their arms on the stair rail to help pull themselves up, which gives the upper body a bit of a workout too. Additionally, stair climbing delivers a good core muscle workout, which improves your abs and posture. What more could you ask for? How about free

The best thing about a stair-climbing workout is that it doesn’t cost a dime. This totally free workout can be done using the stairwells in hotels, office buildings, apartments or even your home. Talk about an inexpensive, convenient alternative to the gym. Intrigued? Read on for tips to help you step up your workout.

Tips for Stair Climbers:

  • • Wear shoes made for running or cross-training
  • • Warm up first by walking around before you start climbing
  • • Cool down the same way afterward, followed by gentle stretching
  •   -Stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves after your workout, not before
  • • Lean slightly forward from your hips and keep your back straight as you climb
  • • Place your entire foot on each step
  •   -Letting your heels hang over the edges may injure your Achilles tendon
  • • Look forward, keeping your head up
  •   -Letting it droop can cause neck strain
  • • Don’t lock your knees as you climb
  • • Vary your pace for maximum fitness benefit
  •   -Walk. Walk faster. Slow down. Speed up. Repeat.
  • • Stay safe
  •   -You wouldn’t jog in a dark alley alone, so please don’t use stairs in a remote stairwell
  • • Drink plenty of water before and after
  •   -Stair climbing is intense, so plan to rehydrate often

If you’re interested in competing, you can search online to find a listing of worldwide "tower running" events which sorts the races by number of stairs.