Summer is here and it's time to get outdoors for a workout! You either love them or hate them but stairs are an effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness and
lower body strength.
Did you know that the City of Edmonton has over 50 set of stairs in the river valley?!?
The top three set of stairs that most Edmontonians talk about are:
1. River Valley Road (east of the Royal Glenora Club and west of the LRT Bridge/ High Level Bridge) up to Ezio Faraone Park.
2. Rossdale Road (at the north entrance of the low level bridge) up to the top of McDougall Hill and Hotel MacDonald ("Hotel MacDonald stairs").
3. Fox Drive (close to Whitemud Ravine) up to Grandview Heights neighborhood ("The Grandview stairs").
Let's take a closer look at the Grandview stairs. At 242 stairs from top to bottom (254 counting the side set of stairs to the east [toward the toboggan hill]), these
stairs pack a good workout punch in such a small area.
The "easiest" workout would be to walk or run up the stairs. Or if you have lots of energy, walk or run up every other stair.
But for a new twist, try these suggestions on the dreaded Grandview stairs or your local set of stairs:
- Side step up the stairs and pick the pace that challenges but keeps you safe.
- Walk up backwards! There is such a grand view (pun intended!) that by turning your back you miss it (again pick the appropriate pace to ensure your safety and initially hold on to the rails for support).
- Utilize the natural stop points or breaks. At each break in the staircase there is a platform but don't be surprised to find that the number of stairs between each platform isn't uniform! For this particular set of stairs, there is 29 deep steps to start followed by platforms every 36, 48, 25, 42, 43, and 19 regular steps. Compete a set of 10-12 squats on each platform. A total of 7 sets - yikes!
- Count every 60 steps or so and complete heel raises on the edge of the last step you stepped on (approximately 4 sets of 10-12 reps). Not only will this tax your lower legs but your brain too (don't lose track of your count!)
- For the Grandview stairs, add other body weight resistance exercises at the two platforms that have benches such as triceps dips, single leg lunges, step ups and inclined push ups (10-12 reps, 1-3 sets).
It is important to note some safety considerations such as ensuring that with each step your foot is completed planted on the stair, hold the railing as needed especially on the way down, keep the core engaged during all climbing and don't forget to breathe!
Next time you want to get outside for a workout, consider finding a set of river valley stairs to push your physical fitness to the next level. Your heart and legs will thank you for it!
Lisa A. Workman M.A., B.P.E., CSEP-CEP, AFLCA Trainer