How Can You Be in Shape But Still Get Out of Breath Walking Up the Stairs?

Dr. Oz has the answer.

Q: How can you be in shape but still get out of breath walking up the stairs?

Oz says: In a word, gravity. Regardless of how much you work out, taking yourself on an upward trajectory means you have to move your entire body weight away from gravity's pull. If you weigh 150 pounds, that's like carrying a 150-pound dumbbell with you! And unless you regularly run stairs or mountain climb, you simply haven't trained your body to be efficient when going up.

"Most people don't realize that 99 percent of what we do for exercise and throughout everyday life is on level ground," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery, in Montgomery, AL. In the same way that yoga devotees practice a lot to get better at those moves, priming your body for going up means you've gotta climb— and often!

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To huff and puff less, take the stairs everywhere, and challenge yourself to go up a few steps faster here and there— you can always back off if you need to. If you prefer a more structured approach, Olson recommends this treadmill routine: Walk for five minutes at a level incline, then increase your climb to 10 percent for 60 seconds. (Trust us, that's plenty— 10 percent percent feels steep!) Repeat that three to five times. Most people start to feel stronger on the real stairs within about a month.

You could drop about a dress size in a year just by going up and down four flights of stairs a day!

This story originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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