#368 Taking the Stairs Prevents Heart Disease and Extends Your Life

Taking the Stairs Prevents Heart Disease and Extends Your Life

Have you ever thought about how the simple act of taking the stairs can change your life? Research has shown that something as ordinary as climbing stairs can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and even increase your lifespan. A recently presented meta-analysis study of 9 studies involving 480,520 people concluded that choosing the stairs instead of the elevator decreases your risk of heart disease killing you by 39% and also lowers your risk of a premature death from any cause by 24%! Let’s dive into how this easy habit can have extraordinary benefits for your health.

Why Stairs are so Good for Your Heart

Climbing stairs is more than just a way to get from one floor to another; it’s a powerful exercise that can boost your heart health. This study included people aged 35 to 84, both healthy individuals and those who already had a heart condition, demonstrating that taking the stairs whenever possible can help anyone combat heart disease and reduce the risk of early death.

Indeed, regularly taking the stairs can decrease your chances of dying from heart disease by 39% and lower your risk of dying early from any cause by 24%. Additionally, it was associated with a lower risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. That’s a huge impact for such a small daily decision of choosing the stairs over an elevator!

6 Ways Taking the Stairs Strengthens Your Heart

1. Cardiovascular Workout

Climbing stairs is a vigorous aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping. This increased heart rate strengthens the heart muscle, improving its efficiency and endurance. A stronger heart can pump more blood with each beat, reducing the overall workload on the heart and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

2. Improved Blood Circulation

As you climb stairs, your body requires more oxygen, which in turn increases blood flow. Enhanced circulation helps prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries, a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes. Good circulation also ensures that your organs and tissues receive adequate oxygen and nutrients, promoting overall health.

3. Lower Blood Pressure

Regular physical activity, such as stair climbing, helps to lower blood pressure by making your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood. This reduces the force on your arteries, decreasing the risk of damage and plaque buildup. Lower blood pressure is directly linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

4. Weight Management

Stair climbing burns calories and helps in weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for heart health because excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing weight decreases the strain on the heart and lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

5. Cholesterol Levels

Engaging in regular stair climbing can improve your cholesterol profile by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and decreasing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. A better cholesterol ratio reduces the risk of plaque formation in the arteries, thus preventing heart attacks and strokes.

6. Stress Reduction

Physical activity, including stair climbing, releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Reducing stress and anxiety levels has a positive impact on heart health, as chronic stress is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases by raising blood pressure and causing harmful habits like smoking or overeating.

By integrating stair climbing into your daily routine, you harness these benefits, making a significant impact on your cardiovascular health. This simple yet effective exercise strengthens your heart, improves circulation, helps maintain a healthy weight, balances cholesterol levels, and reduces stress—all contributing to a lower risk of heart disease and a longer, healthier life.

Start Small, Think Big

You don’t need to climb hundreds of stairs to see benefits. Start with small goals, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or at home. Over time, you can increase the number of stairs you climb and see even greater health benefits.

Look for opportunities to take the stairs throughout your day. Whether it’s at the mall, at work, or even at a friend’s apartment, choose the stairs whenever you can. These small changes can add up to significant health benefits over time.

My Personal “Never Take an Elevator” Policy

With the exception of perhaps a high-rise hotel where they don’t let you take the stairs, you’ll never see me in an elevator. My policy for the last 39 years is simple—never take an elevator.

In fact, if you ever come to my hospital, St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, there’s a good chance you might catch me running the stairs between surgeries. For me, it’s not just about getting from one floor to another. Climbing stairs keeps my mind and body sharp and my energy levels high, enabling me to perform at my very best. This personal commitment to stair climbing reflects my belief in the power of this simple exercise to enhance overall health.

As someone dedicated to inspiring healthier lifestyles, I believe in practicing what I preach. My daily routine of running the stairs is a testament to the benefits of regular physical activity. By incorporating stair climbing into my day at the hospital, I not only stay fit but also set an example for my patients and colleagues. This small habit makes a big difference in my ability to stay focused and energized throughout the day.


Choosing the stairs over the elevator is a simple yet powerful way to improve your heart health and extend your life. The research is clear: climbing stairs can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and overall mortality. So, next time you’re faced with the choice, take the stairs and step up to a healthier heart!

Incorporating stair climbing into your daily routine is an achievable and effective way to boost your health. It’s a small change that can lead to big benefits. Let’s take the first step together and make stair climbing a part of our lives for a healthier future. Embrace the power of the stairs, and inspire others to do the same. Your heart will thank you!


The information provided in this blog article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, have poor balance, or are experiencing symptoms that may require medical attention. While climbing stairs can offer significant health benefits, it is important to ensure that this form of exercise is safe and appropriate for your individual health circumstances.

About the Photo

The attached photo shows my 8-year-old son and me at the top of the Snowbird tram, enjoying the last weekend of skiing over Memorial Day. It was the closing weekend at Snowbird, so we made sure to get our final turns in before the end of the season. I love spring skiing in the sun with my family.

Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.