Are you winded when you climb stairs quickly? Hopefully not, but if you are you can improve this, and possibly more quickly than you expect. (Read my Personal story at the end of this post!) Your body is designed to get better at what it does regularly with intention.
Livestrong.com says it simply: “Like any muscle in your body, when you exercise your respiratory muscles, they get stronger.”
This is why #MovementMatters!
Exercise increases your body’s ability to use oxygen most efficiently, essentially increasing the speed at which a train or oxygenated blood moves, writes Jeremy Barnes, an associate professor of health management at Southeast Missouri State University in “Scientific American” magazine.Your body is designed to get better at what it does regularly. #MovementMatters… Click To Tweet
So while your lungs do not grow in size with exercise, they do improve how efficient they are at getting more oxygen to all of your muscles, brain, and other body parts that need it.
Not sure how to get started, or what to do? Are you just getting started? Already exercising? Love to exercise? Our post, Exercise is a PureLiving Pillar, lists a variety of ways you may consider getting started with getting more movement and exercise into your day.
Naturally, if you have any health concerns with exercise, you should check with the health practitioner of your choice, first. The chiropractor and trainers at your local health club are always more than happy to talk about good options for starting exercise. It can be as simple as starting with walks around the block, and, when you are ready, stair climbing! Before you know it, which can literally take just a couple of weeks, you will reach the top of your stairs and realize you don’t have to stop to catch your breath.
Are There Other Options?
Instead of investing an hour at the gym, what if you could get more fit with 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, throughout your day? In a study published in Preventive Medicine, researchers found that multiple workout sessions throughout the day –even as short as 6 minutes each– help sedentary adults reach fitness goals similar to those achieved by working out for 30 minutes at a time.
My “Related Personal Story” below shares more ideas!
Need a little more inspiration? Read Do You Know What Sitting is Doing to Your Body?
The day you climb stairs and realize you made it to the top without stopping, or perhaps realize you made it to the top and kept going without evening thinking about it, is a very good day! Even if you already exercise regularly, you can look for and enjoy the milestones of how exercise strengthens your lungs.
It is a sigh of relief.
I’m like a lot of people, better and more consistent with exercise at times, and just plain out of it at others. But when I notice my breath getting hard climbing stairs, I know it’s critical to do something about it.
Years ago there was a trainer at my health club who was doing the strangest thing. As I chugged along for up to an hour at a time, I saw him do the following:
- Warm up on a treadmill at a fast walking pace for about 5 minutes
- Break into a run, as fast as he could, for maybe 30 seconds
- Suddenly bring in down to a medium or even slowish walk for a minute or so
- Repeat this run/walk pattern about 3 more times (4 total)
- Step off his treadmill and be done after a total of 17 minutes
Certainly he could not be doing much for his cardo in such a short period? I was wrong. He was doing amazing things for his cardio, and now I do this too.
It’s called interval training. You don’t need a treadmill, you can theoretically do it just run/walking around your neighborhood or on a bike or swimming, even on your own stairs in your home! I’ve done that both at home and in a hotel when traveling. However, usually I choose to use a machine in my health club that is low impact. There are several to choose from, including the dreaded stairclimber.
Interval workouts are hard, but short. While I still don’t really look forward to them, I know once I begin that I will be done really really soon, too. I push myself as hard as I possibly can during the hard sessions, then back off almost all the way for recovery.
Interval training turns around my shortness of breath quickly. I strive to do an interval workout 2 times a week (Tuesday and Saturday) and in a week or two I notice improvements every time. When I am being consistent, I notice my overall fitness improves and I can go harder and longer over time.
One of my favorite websites, GirlsGoneStrong.com has this article about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with other suggestions. They suggest a 20 second interval with 1 minute rest, and 3-5 rounds.
Change things up once in awhile! I do the same thing for 3-4 weeks, then change one or more of these three variables:
- How long high intensity: 15, 20, 30, 45 seconds… rarely longer!
- How long low intensity: Sometimes the same time as high intensity, sometime 3-4 times longer
- How many repetitions. 4 at a minimum, and when I do 8 I feel like a superstar but I’m also dead tired at the end!
Keep your body guessing, and enjoy the ride!