Stair climbing is one of the best forms of exercise

Stair climbing is a great exercise that’s accessible to almost everyone. You can build it into your day, so it often doesn’t even feel like exercise. And it’s even been shown to lower your chance of dying.

I spend most of last year living in a condo on the 5th floor. I used to climb 10 floors of stairs in the morning and another 10 n the afternoon. That made up my 20 floors per day target. Anything else was a bonus.

When traveling, I do my best to stay in hotels or condos that are on higher floors. I’m currently staying on the 4th floor of a 50-floor hotel. While here I do all my 20 flights in the morning.

Even over the holiday period, I managed to keep up my routine. It’s now such a habit that it’s almost impossible not to do it. It’s become something that I do automatically, like brushing my teeth.

My Fitbit stats. Screenshot by author.

It’s now been over 3 months since I started climbing 20 flights of stairs a day, so what have I learned?

Lesson #1 — It’s hard at the beginning

Like many things in life, when you start doing them they seem quite difficult. In the first few weeks, I had days where I simply forgot about my stair climbing. I had to really focus on getting it done.

I achieved this mainly by doing the first set first thing in the morning. It’s not a great feeling when you realize 5 minutes before bed that you still have most of the floors to still do.

Getting them done early in the day gets them out of the way.

It’s why I do the whole lot first thing in the morning when I’m always from home. I’m usually out for much of the day and it can feel like a chore to do them in the evening.

Lesson #2 — It takes time to build a habit

When we want to add new habits into our life it seems like it’s an easy thing to do. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. The cold, hard fact is that it takes time. For something to become a habit, it needs to become something you do automatically. You can’t shortcut that process.

Once you realize that, it can help you build habits. You know ahead of time that it’s going to take real effort to do the activity every day. It will eventually become automatic.

Lesson #3 — It makes you feel stronger

After doing stair climbing for 3 months I now feel much stronger. I spend some of my time in Asia, so usually have to buy 6-liter bottles of water which I carry home from the store. Even walking on the flat now feels much easier than it was before I started stair climbing.

It makes your legs much stronger, and this has a positive effect on your whole body.

Lesson #4 — It strengthens your abs

This was something I wasn’t expecting but that makes perfect sense. When I come back from the store with bottles of water or bags of shopping, I still walk up the stairs. I have banned myself from using a lift, except in exceptional circumstances.

Carrying water and bags of shopping while walking up the stairs means you need to use your abs, so they get a great workout.

Lesson #5 — It gives you a sense of achievement

If you succeed at something you set out to do, it gives you a sense of achievement. This gives you more confidence and carries it across into other areas of your life.

I now write every day and think that has been easier because of my other successes. Walking up 20 flights of stairs a day isn’t a major achievement, but all these smaller achievements add up to making you realize that whatever you aim for probably isn’t as difficult as it seems. After all, if you’ve succeeded multiple times in the past, there’s no reason your should this time.

Lesson #6— It lowers your chance of dying

In the Harvard Alumni Health Study, it was shown that in a “cohort of older men, stair climbing was associated with a lower risk of mortality from any causes.” Source:

Knowing that, why wouldn’t you want to climb stairs regularly?

I have also built similar habits into my day, such as walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day and doing 25 pushups every morning.

Do you have any daily habits that you have for improving your life?