Hundreds of staircases snake their way through the city of Seattle. Sure, these provide shortcuts through neighborhoods - but there are also plenty of ways to use staircases near your home or office to pump up your fitness routine.
SEATTLE - Hundreds of staircases snake their way through the city of Seattle.
Sure, these provide shortcuts through neighborhoods - but there are also plenty of ways to use staircases near your home or office to pump up your fitness routine.
Thanks to Susan Ott Ralph and her husband David, a map of the city's 650 staircases is now online.
Susan Ott Ralph says, "I just think it's fun that no matter how poor you are, anyone can go climb some stairs."
Susan and David not only counted every stair - they took pictures to show you what you're getting yourself into.
Lisa Kennelly, "I don't have to go to the gym; I just can just walk out my door and walk up the stairs."
Staircases offer a great free workout. You can take the stairs one at a time, or challenge yourself, jumping two at a time.
For pointers on getting started, I consulted outdoor fitness expert John Colver, who founded outdoor fitness company Adventx in Seattle and just finished a book, "Fit By Nature."
"Maybe a good place to start is twice a week," says John.
And don't forget the warm-up before you tackle any set of stairs. You can do some jumping jacks to pump the heart rate up and maybe some leg swings to loosen up those muscles you’re about to work.
And like starting any new exercise, make sure it’s OK with your doctor and take it slow to start.
John says, "The most important thing to do, for somebody starting out, is to go slow."
Demonstrating a slow pace up the stairs, he says, "If I come out here and do this for two or three weeks, then by the time I get into the program a little ... I'll be able to pick up the speed and go faster."
In addition to a slower speed, John says to make sure you're standing tall, with all your weight in your heels, to prevent pain in your knees.
He also has some advice about how to avoid repetition.
"Instead of just going straight up and down, we can exercise the stabilizer muscles by going sideways, and do a few steps like that and change around," John says.
Before you know it, you'll be running up the stairs like Steve Barker does - three or four times a week. He mapped out a route that takes him up the Howe Street stairs not once, but twice, during his run.
"I have the theme song from Rocky on my iPod," he says.
Running or walking - reaching the top usually adds another bonus.
"And of course stairs means views," says Susan. "If you have a hill, you have a view."
Susan says her stair mapping is how she and her husband David discovered Fremont Peak Park.