Stairs are an insanely good prenatal cardio workout. In no time, you can get your heart pounding and your lungs begging for air. Plus, it is a fantastic lower body workout, developing leg muscles your body will be thankful you targeted when your legs start carrying baby weight around for nine months.
Stairs are everywhere, making them free, easily accessible, and ideal exercise equipment. In just fifteen minutes, a 150 pound person burns 102 calories while keeping up a moderate pace on stairs—twice as much as running burns in the same amount of time.
When you are running stairs, make sure you keep your shoulders back and abs. Pumping your arms as you run up stairs can help your keep your momentum.
Hitting the stairs doesn’t have to be a mundane exercise. Vary it up. Of course, there is the standard, walking (or running) up one stair at a time. You can also take two or three stairs at a time. Hop up one step at a time, landing on each step with both your feet simultaneously. Alternate crisscrossing your legs, using the handrails to pull yourself up (this will help to stabilize you, plus give your arms a workout, too). Go up sideways, crossing your legs over each other (this especially works your inner thighs).
Once you feel comfortable dashing up and down the stairs, consider carrying a pair of hand weights above your head. You can also add a weighted vest to increase the challenge.
You can also use stairs as part of interval training. Alternate sprinting up and down the stairs with walking. Interval training not only gives you a chance to catch your breath, but it also burns more fat and keeps your metabolism revved up longer after your workout.
Create your own stair cardio workout plan by mixing up how you go up the stairs and incorporating interval training.
Whatever way you exercise on the stairs, you are getting an excellent aerobic workout. Many top athletes run stairs for the cross training benefits it gives. Stairs build up your leg muscles, especially the calves and the quadriceps, and tone your butt. They also work your core ab muscles. And depending if you add weights or use the railings, you can tone your arms.
Instead of taking the elevator at work or the escalator at malls, head for the stairs. On your lunch breaks, take time out to tackle a few of your office stair levels. Or if you are crunched for your daily exercise time, consider running nearby stairs for 15 to 20 minutes for a combined cardio and toning workout.
Once you are pregnant, you can still continue running stairs. Take extra precautions, though. As you start getting bigger, especially in your second trimester, your center of balance changes, making it much easier to trip or lose your balance. Choose to run stairs that have handrails which you can easily grab in case you slip. If you feel that your balance is poor or that your body responds poorly to the jostling running stairs can cause, immediately stop. As your third trimester is beginning to close, your doctor may recommend you refrain from running stairs, especially if you are experiencing strong early contractions.
[Disclaimer: Read this introduction before you begin any exercise program.]
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