I remember the President’s Physical Fitness program that was established by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 (yes, I am that old and I hate it), but even way back then, everyone knew how important staying fit was!
There were seven tests you had to be successful at to earn the award:
- Pull ups (boys) or flexed arm hang for girls (try making this distinction today and see what happens!)
- Shuttle run
- Standing broad jump
- 50-yard dash
- Softball throw for distance
- 600-yard run or walk.
Thank goodness that ended! But seriously, what is “fit” today? You will be happy to know that the newest studies on fitness from Tulane University debunk these types of programs and in fact, say to “forget walking 10,000 steps a day” and instead “take at least 50 steps up the stairs each day” to significantly slash your risk of heart disease. The researchers have found that “short bursts of high-intensity stair climbing are a time-efficient way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and lipid profile”. What is even more interesting is that those who stopped climbing stairs daily during the study showed a 32% higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who never reported climbing stairs.
I don’t know about you, but I climb stairs every day, I live in a multi-level home, my office is in the lower level and the rest of my world is upstairs. I haven’t counted the number of trips I make up and down (the researchers didn’t count the down trips) but I’m guessing at least 10-15 trips a day, way more than the researchers indicate is needed for a healthy heart! Bottom line, know your fitness level, if your knees are bad and stairs are troublesome, stick with what works for you. The goal is to stay fit, however that looks to you, make it your own and stick with it. Your heart will thank you! Stay well and stay informed!