What’s your favorite walk in the world? I have one that may strike you as an odd choice, but for me it’s one of my all time favorites. It’s quirky, but then again, so am I. A while ago, I went to Hong Kong and Bali. As you know, I always walk a lot wherever my trusty pedometer and I go. So yes, I walked a lot while I was in Asia. What I didn’t expect, however, was all the stair climbing. Tons of stairs in both Hong Kong and Bali. Here are 2 examples:
- In Bali, some of the temples I visited required climbing down many steep steps before you saw the sites.
- On Lantau Island, I went to see the Tian Tan Buddha. I walked up 260 steps to get there, and then of course down 260 steps, too.
And perhaps the most outrageous urban stepping experience anywhere is in Hong Kong: the mid-level escalator. I didn’t make a video while I was there, but here’s one I found online. I’m sure you can find others as well.
It’s the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world. When you watch it, don’t underestimate walking UP even with the assistance of an escalator. The escalators are 2,600 feet long with a vertical climb of 443 feet. I LOVED all 20 of these escalators and couldn’t get enough of them. I walked up the escalators and then down on the steps! Twice!! And to top it off, the escalators run on SHELLY Street.
When I got home, I started wondering if stair climbing was actually a sport. While not yet an Olympic sport, here’s what I found:
Stair climbing is a free and fast route to cardio fitness. Even a treadmill with a maximum grade of 15-20% cannot compete with stair climbing as an aerobic exercise. With stair climbing and all the vertical work, you move your body against gravity MUCH more than when you are on level ground. Stair climbing also produces a major calorie burn, allowing you to spend less time working out. As an example, a 175-pound person burns 358 calories in just 30 minutes of climbing stairs. Surprisingly, climbing stairs causes only modest impact on joints and muscles, so stair climbers are typically NOT plagued by muscle soreness as long as they vary the way they come down the stairs. When you walk down, walk in a zigzag fashion. It’ll look odd but you’ll avoid the braking action that causes the microscopic muscle fiber tears that lead to soreness. Some stair runners call themselves “tower runners ” and they consider their sport the ultimate in a total body workout. You’ll certainly build strong legs and arms!
Want to train for a race? The Big Climb at the Columbia Center Tower in Seattle races up 69 flights of stairs. As with all sports, there are strategies and techniques. Kristin Frey is the world’s #1 ranked female stair climber. Her advice; taking one step at a time is key to success.
I’ve long been an advocate of taking the stairs rather than using escalators and elevators. I think it may be time to give stair climbing some attention! What are some of your favorite quirky walks/hikes around the world? Let me know!