Senior Living – Don’t forget to take the stairs

By Linda Buroker | May 05, 2014
Linda Buroker

The words stair climbing and seniors are hardly ever used in the same sentence. Seniors are more apt to be thinking of ways to avoid stairs; they move into single-story dwellings or give serious thought to the idea of a stair-lift or elevator.

The alternative, of course, is to approach stair climbing as a challenge and learn how to navigate them safely.

Stairs are a constant; something that you don’t normally think about until you find yourself avoiding them. Do you remember when stair climbing was fun? When did all of that change?

Walking up a flight of stairs is a lot of work. Stair climbing makes your thighs burn, your heart thump and your lungs gasp for air. Wait a minute! That sounds a lot like exercise.

Instead of avoiding stairs, think of how you can use them to get some much-needed exercise. Stairs are everywhere. You can find them at home, at the gym, at the mall, or even at your favorite park.

Keeping your heart, lungs and lower body muscles strong will mean that you can walk farther and use the stairs without getting short of breath. It also means you will be able to get in and out of a chair easily and take care of your own needs.

Are you ready? Let’s do it! Stair climbing is easy, and you already know how. Watch your body mechanics; stand tall and hold onto the handrail. Balance gently on the balls of your feet and take one step at a time. That’s it. Start slowly.

At first you will have to rest often, but it will get easier with practice. Make it a point to climb three times a week, and let your muscles recover in-between workouts. This doesn’t mean that you can’t run downstairs to do a load of laundry on your off days, but three times a week take those stairs seriously. If independent living is your goal, you don’t want to be defeated by a flight of stairs.

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