At-Home Exercise: Using My Stairs for Strength

Written by Amy on May 20th, 2013

Balance, Body Image, Healthy Living, Keeping Active

At-Home Exercise: Using My Stairs for Strength at Natural Parents Network

I’ve had five children in twelve years. While I may appear slim, my body is not what it used to be when I was a teenager, and I am working to make a few changes. Lately, I have been brainstorming simple, quick ways to build strength – cardio, core, muscle, emotional, mental, spiritual – overall strength. I have the emotional, mental, spiritual covered pretty well with relaxation meditation and awareness activities, although I am always open for further integration.

On the physical tip, I have purchased and practiced many DVDs in various forms of exercise – yoga, aerobic, muscle sculpting, post-natal, pre-natal, pelvic floor, core exercises, yoga with the family, and so on. I really enjoy working with all of these instructional workouts and bring much that I have learned into my everyday life.

At the same time, I don’t always (feel like I) have the time to pop in a 40-60 minute DVD. This reminds me of the lovely Rodney Yee AM DVD with five 20 minute workouts for every morning of the week – I really love waking up that way! Okay, I just don’t always want to pop in a DVD. Yet, I know I feel better when I exercise daily: I sleep more restfully, respond more lovingly to challenges, and overall feel better about myself and my life. Exercise helps me process emotions and tune into my body.

As I was walking up the stairs the other day in our bi-level home it occurred to me that the action of walking up and down the stairs (especially while packing a 16 pound baby) is quite the exercise in itself. In this everyday action I get to focus on proper posture, core strength, cardio strength, leg and arm strength, and overall intention (the stairs and landing are wood and sometimes slippery).

I wondered, why not use my stairs for overall strength through deliberately exercising on them?

I can do it with or without the baby, in the amount of time that I have, at a pace that works for me and my body, it can be done when the kids are awake or asleep, and I can do short sessions throughout the day by multiplying my regular use of the stairs (going up and down a few extra times when I need to use the stairs.

Below are some ways I am using my stairs for strength . . . maybe you can too if you’d like a challenge. Although I have a lot of interest in health and well being, I am not a certified physical fitness instructor, so please use your own judgment and intuition as you consider using stairs for strength.

  • Wear gripping shoes (like those I would use for running, climbing, or hiking) or go barefoot so I stay connected to the floor (socks can be way slippery on wood)
  • If I am wearing the baby, make sure she is in an ergonomically supportive carrier (like the Ergo), it is properly fastened so she’s snug but not tight, and comfortable for both of us.
  • Before beginning, spend a few moments or minutes grounding, feeling my body solid, rooted into the ground and earth, muscles strong supporting the bones, anchoring deeply into proper posture – at the top of the stairs if I would like.
  • Hold the railing initially and walk rather than go quickly.
  • If not holding the baby, make sure she is in a safe space (stair gate closed).
  • Focus on my breath and be aware of how I am holding my body, feeling in my body, noticing any tension while allowing it to release with the out breath.
  • Walk the stairs slowly at first – down, then up as set to gently stretch and warm the muscles. Repeat for a certain number of reps (10-20 to start) or for a specified amount of time (5-10 minutes to start), gradually working up to a faster pace or amount of reps/time as able.
  • Engage muscles, trust and listen to my body, step in place for a few seconds to rest.
  • Bring in mantras or favorite quotes, strengthen the mind and body at the same time. Write out a list of thoughts I am working to integrate/affirm and choose some to repeat as I walk the stairs. Create a sequence if desired.
  • Combine stair walking with household responsibilities that need to be completed on different levels of the home and alternate floors to increase stair walking (i.e. emptying trash, laundry, vacuuming on the stairs or on different floors).

How do you exercise in your home?

Photo Credit: Author

About The Author: Amy

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Amy Phoenix is a gentle yet direct mom of five and author of Presence Parenting, a space to address the presence we bring to parenting, especially when feeling frustration, anger or rage.

3 Responses to At-Home Exercise: Using My Stairs for Strength

  1. Andrea

    Great idea Amy! I too was thinking about how I need to do something but I have two girls to think about also. So I decided to walk around my pond when able. Then I can enjoy the outdoors. The girls can participate when they like our play outside. And I can also train our puppy to heel. So that’s my new routine=)

  2. Colette

    I have checked out the book “Lean Mommy” which is a ‘stroller-cize’ program and the routine looks fun. I have yet to put it into practice. My husband and I *try* to walk together (we’ve worked up to 2 3/4 miles) a couple times a week. Sometimes I walk a mile to get the Sunday paper, get a few groceries or go to church. And maybe once a week I get to join David doing our “no-gear” workout we found in a women’s exercise magazine. …It sounds like I’m exercising more than I am. I’m just listing all the ways I try to keep moving. Oh! be sure to check out “Loose Your Mummy Tummy” at the library. Very informative. I haven’t done all the things suggested, I had to take the book back before I could get the routine down.

  3. Jes

    I just started doing this again! In the past I’ve over done stairs and gotten repetitive motion injuries (so like parenting it is too funny). I also like Amanda Russell workouts on YouTube because I can do them whole or in part throughout my day. Thank you for the motivation to keep going and the idea to incorporate a mantra into my activity!