Older women don't have to hit the gym to stay healthy, because a stair-climbing workout appears to do the trick, researchers report.
Finding the right type of exercise can be difficult for postmenopausal women, according to the North American Menopause Society. For example, high-intensity resistance training reduces age-related muscle loss, but can increase blood pressure.
Combining aerobic and resistance training can minimize this problem. But many women say they don't have the time, the money, access to a gym or decent weather for getting out.
"This study demonstrates how simple lifestyle interventions such as stair climbing can be effective in preventing or reducing the negative effects of menopause and age on the vascular system and leg muscles of postmenopausal women with hypertension," JoAnn Pinkerton, the menopause society's executive director, said in a society news release.
This doesn't mean climbing just one or two flights of stairs a day, however. The study included postmenopausal women in Korea who climbed 192 steps, two to five times a day, four days a week.
A typical house in the United States has 13 steps per story. So you'd need to climb more than 14 flights of stairs several times a day to gain the reported benefits.
According to the study, this exercise program improved artery health, lowered blood pressure, and increased leg strength.
Additional benefits included fat loss, improved cholesterol profiles, and reduced risk of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, the researchers said.
The results were published recently in the journal Menopause.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about exercise and physical activity.
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