No Time For Gym? 30 Minutes *A Week* On Stairs Just As Good

ONTARIO — Is too much time at home or work keeping you away from your local gym? Good news: a new study finds that all you need is a staircase and 30 minutes a week to give your body a great workout.

The findings are published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. The study shows that intense bursts of exercise for short periods of time can be critically beneficial for one’s heart health.

In the study, stair sprints were used as an example of sprint interval training, or SIT. The researchers recognized that such exercises can improve cardiorespitory health. Lead author Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at the university, has dedicated an abundance of research into high-intensity interval training over the years. He wrote a book regarding the topic, titled “The One Minute Workout.

Gibala and his team conducted their study on 31 individuals. The participants were all women who were fairly inactive, but otherwise healthy. The participants were divided into two separate groups, and each group committed to an exercise routine. Both groups were also required to participate in 10 minute sessions that included warm-ups, cool-downs, and recovery periods. The groups were devoted to their exercising for a total of a month-and-a-half. They performed their workouts three times a week, totaling nearly 20 sessions.

The first protocol required three sessions of 20-second stair climbing, in an “all-out” type of method. These exercises were compared to participants who practiced the same protocol, but instead using an exercise bike.

During the second part of the observation, participants climbed intensely up and down a flight of stairs for 60 seconds each.

Both protocols required the participants to exercise for 30 minutes each week that they were involved in the study. The research showed that the participants experienced a significant improvement in cardiorespitory fitness. The study noted that this is a key point that is linked to life longevity.

“Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour,” Gibala says in a release. “This research takes interval training out of the lab and makes it accessible to everyone.”

Of course, when making any significant change to your workout routine, it’s always a good bet to consult a doctor first.

This article was first published in February 2017.


  1. Great exercise, but no way does 30 minutes a WEEK walking up stairs sub for regular exercise. As a fitness person, I can definitely say that you should not allow your body to take a 167.5 hour break from exercise each week. That’s just stupid. Plus, regular exercise does much more that help you physically, it lifts your spirits and keeps your mood good. Just another asinine, ridiculous article looking to justify laziness.

  2. I dont buy this article, Anyone going from no physical activity to 30 minutes is going to see a significant improvement to cardiorespitory fitness. That is just what happens when anyone gets off their butts. This is promoting people to settle for less. All those As seen on TV gimmicks have the same study when you do this for x number of weeks you will see results. most those people plateau and lose interest, and that is all this article is doing is pushing people to settle for less then their best.

  3. The fitness community refers to this as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), not SIT. And yes, we’ve known for many years that HIIT training has benefits.

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