A recent article in Health gives insight to why walking up a set of stairs is much more challenging than jogging/running an equivalent distance. Even if your main cardio workout consists of running on a treadmill or regular 5-k races, it shouldn’t be surprising if walking up a flight of stairs leaves you huffin’ and puffin’ for air. The article explains that this difference is due to the missing vertical element when running on flat ground.
So what is the advantage of this vertical element? Though most other cardio exercises including swimming and biking get your heart rate up, you need an upward elevation as with stairs or hiking to get your lower muscles to work and lift your body weight.
A recent trip to the Santa Monica Stairs proved this fact as my quads quivered on my last stretch up the cement steps. It took so much mental effort to lift my seemingly heavy body up the last few steps!
There are two sets of stairs: the cement one is right where 4th Street and Adelaide Drive meet and the wooden one is about .2 miles down Adelaide Drive. You can walk/run/squat/frog jump/step backwards up and down either staircase or use them to loop up and down Adelaide Drive. The cement one loops and the steps are a bit steeper than the wooden staircase which is wider and goes straight up and down. Evening is my favorite time to go, as it isn’t too hot and it’s picture perfect when you catch the sunset!