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The only way is up with stair running

There will be times when you are not able to go to the gym for a work-out. You might be away with work, time might be against you, you may be on holiday. But no matter, one of the things we like to do here at Kelsey Kerridge, is give you new ideas to help you maintain or boost your fitness levels.

Well, stair-running or tower-running is one of those ideas. It involves no cost, no additional equipment but it gives your legs and cardiovascular system a complete and thorough work-out. It even offers a competitive challenge if you find it is something you love (?) to do.

Any time, any place

All you need is a set of stairs. It might be the stairs at work, those steps in the local sports stadium, or even the staircase in the town’s multi-storey car park. If you want to burn calories, blow the cobwebs from your mind and give your cardiovascular system a serious workout, then get your runners on and make your way to the nearest high rise for a short, sharp workout.

Pounding up and down sets of stairs is also a great way to work the major muscle groups in your legs. Going up the steps, your hamstrings and calf muscles take a battering; coming down and your quads will be screaming by the end of a 15 minute session.

Research backs up the theory. Dr Lewis Halsey is a lecturer in sport and exercise at Roehampton University and he has found that climbing 100 steps, five time a day, will burn more than 300 calories – more than jogging or cycling and as much as vigorous swimming. That is something that you can easily fit into a lunch hour or before work. And if you are staying in a hotel, it is a great way to get a quick burst of exercise before that work conference.

Getting competitive
If you want to get competitive, then you might look for a stair-case race. Known as Tower Running, this is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in urban areas around the world. There are a number of official tower-running races taking place across some of the world’s major cities. The Gherkin Challenge in London involves 1,037 steps; the Sears Tower in Chicago puts competitors through 2,109 agonising steps and Taiwan has the Tapei 101 with 2,046 steps.

These are no strolls up a tower with pauses to admire the view; this is high-octane, high energy racing at its best. There is even a Tower Racing World Cup, which takes in 150 events across 25 countries. These events are serious and can attract thousands of athletes. At the last count 65,000 athletes world-wide had participated in a tower run.

Tower running is the urban version of mountain running or fell-running. It is tough on the calves and hamstrings going up, it is torture on the quadriceps coming down. But a word of warning: it is not for the easily-bored. Training takes place in stairwells, never the most picturesque of environments and is not conducive to group running.

But, it is the complete training package. Hearts, lungs, bones, muscles and flexibility all get a workout and, as you spring up the stairs with confidence, it does mean you will never have to squeeze into an over-crowded lift again.

Getting going

Getting into tower running is easy – just find any building that has a set of steps – the flight of stairs at work, the local sports stadium, the pedestrian stairway in a multi-storey car park, the fire exit in the shopping mall – and then just do it.

And you can train for it in the gym. Just ask one of the Kelsey Kerridge personal trainers or gym staff to help you devise a programme that will strengthen your leg muscles and prepare them for a high energy, but hugely satisfying workout.