News Release

Climb stairs to live longer

Reports and Proceedings

European Society of Cardiology

Athens, Greece – 26 April 2024:  Climbing stairs is associated with a longer life, according to research presented today at ESC Preventive Cardiology 2024, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1

“If you have the choice of taking the stairs or the lift, go for the stairs as it will help your heart,” said study author Dr. Sophie Paddock of the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Foundation Trust, Norwich, UK. “Even brief bursts of physical activity have beneficial health impacts, and short bouts of stair climbing should be an achievable target to integrate into daily routines.”

Cardiovascular disease is largely preventable2 through actions like exercise. However, more than one in four adults worldwide do not meet recommended levels of physical activity.3 Stair climbing is a practical and easily accessible form of physical activity which is often overlooked. This study investigated whether climbing stairs, as a form of physical activity, could play a role in reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

The authors collected the best available evidence on the topic and conducted a meta-analysis. Studies were included regardless of the number of flights of stairs and the speed of climbing. There were nine studies with 480,479 participants in the final analysis. The study population included both healthy participants and those with a previous history of heart attack or peripheral arterial disease. Ages ranged from 35 to 84 years old and 53% of participants were women.

Compared with not climbing stairs, stair climbing was associated with a 24% reduced risk of dying from any cause4 and a 39% lower likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease.5 Stair climbing was also linked with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

Dr. Paddock said: “Based on these results, we would encourage people to incorporate stair climbing into their day-to-day lives. Our study suggested that the more stairs climbed, the greater the benefits – but this needs to be confirmed. So, whether at work, home, or elsewhere, take the stairs.”

Authors: ESC Press Office
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Notes to editor

Funding: There was no direct funding for this study. Three authors are National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) funded academic clinical fellows and one author is funded by a NIHR doctoral research fellowship.

Disclosures: None.

References and notes

1The abstract ‘Evaluating the cardiovascular benefits of stair climbing: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ will be presented during the session ‘Optimal exercise modalities for primary and secondary prevention’ which takes place on 26 April 2024 at 15:15 EEST at Moderated ePosters 1.

2Timmis A, Vardas P, Townsend N, et al. European Society of Cardiology: cardiovascular disease statistics 2021. Eur Heart J. 2022;43:716–799.

3World Health Organization: Physical activity.

4Relative risk 0.76, 95% confidence interval 0.62-0.94, p=0.01.

5Relative risk 0.61, 95% confidence interval 0.48–0.79, p=0.0002.


About the European Association of Preventive Cardiology

The European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) is a branch of the ESC. Its mission is to promote excellence in research, practice, education and policy in cardiovascular health, primary and secondary prevention.

About ESC Preventive Cardiology          #ESCPrev2024

ESC Preventive Cardiology, formerly EuroPrevent, is the leading international congress on preventive cardiology and the annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together health care professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

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