Heart Rate & Running Stairs

The heart rate you choose while running stairs is a personal choice.

The heart rate you choose while running stairs is a personal choice.

Stair running provides a high-intensity interval workout that can burn up to 20 calories per minute. This workout involves running up several flights of stairs as fast as you can, walking down to the bottom and repeating several times. While there is no ideal heart rate for running stairs, it is useful to monitor your heart rate to ensure you are not working too hard.

Best Heart Rate for Stair Running.

The heart rate you choose for running stairs, as with any type of cardio, is a matter of personal choice. According to the American Council on Exercise, if you are a healthy individual, you should work out within a target heart rate zone that is 50 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. A heart rate of 50 to 70 percent is considered a moderate-intensity workout while a heart rate more than 70 percent is considered a vigorous workout. Exercising above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate is not recommended as it can increase cardiovascular and orthopedic risk. If you are fairly new to aerobic exercise, aim for a moderate target heart rate by jogging up the stairs. If you are a more advanced exerciser, increase your target heart rate by sprinting up the stairs.

Calculating your Heart Rate

To measure your ideal heart rate, you first have to calculate your maximum heart rate. To do that, you subtract your age from 220. While this is a simple calculation, this is the maximum number of beats your heart should be beating during exercise. Once you have this number, you multiply it by the exercise intensity you are trying to reach. For example, if you are 40 years old and want to exercise at an intensity of 75 percent, your calculation would be: 220 – 40 x 0.75 or 135 beats per minute.

Taking Your Pulse

A heart rate monitor is the most precise way to check your heart rate but if you don’t own one, you can easily monitor your rate yourself. The best places to find your pulse are at the side of your neck or the base of your thumbs. Place two fingers on either of the pulse sites until you isolate your pulse. Count the number of pulses in 10 seconds and multiply that number by six to get your heart beat per minute.


Stair running is a high-impact exercise that may not be suitable for everyone. If you are a beginner exerciser or have knee or ankle issues, begin slowly or choose a gym step machine as a lower-impact exercise option. Always begin a stair workout with a warmup to prepare your muscles and slowly increase your heart rate and blood flow to your heart. Always end your workout with a cool-down such as a light jog or walk to return your heart rate to normal.

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About the Author

Andrea Chrysanthou began writing professionally in 1993. Her work has been published internationally by "The Cyprus Mail," MochaSofa and My Favorite Trainer, among other magazines and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in journalism from Ryerson University. Chrysanthou is a certified fitness instructor and personal-training specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry.

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