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50 daily stair steps cut heart disease risk by 20%

Forget walking 10,000 or 7,000 steps a day. Taking at least 50 steps climbing stairs daily could significantly slash your risk of heart disease, according to a new study. The study from Tulane University in Louisiana in the US, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, found that climbing more than five flights of stairs daily could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) along with coronary artery disease and stroke are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

“Short bursts of high-intensity stair climbing are a time-efficient way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lipid profile, especially among those unable to achieve the current physical activity recommendations,” said Dr Lu Qi, professor at the Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. 

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Using UK Biobank data collected from 450,000 adults, the study calculated participants’ susceptibility to cardiovascular disease based on family history, established risk factors and genetic risk factors and surveyed participants about their lifestyle habits and frequency of stair climbing.

It found that climbing more stairs daily, especially reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease in those who were less susceptible. 

However, Qi said the increased risk of heart disease in more susceptible people could be “effectively offset” by daily stair climbing.

“This study provides novel evidence for the protective effects of stair climbing on the risk of ASCVD, particularly for individuals with multiple ASCVD risk factors,” Qi said.

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