How can you quickly test your fitness? One of the simplest ways is with the use of stairs. Stairs are a great indication of your cardiovascular health. I’m sure we can all relate to the heart pumping breathlessness that comes with quickly climbing stairs. In fact climbing stairs will get you to this point faster than most activities because you’re working against gravity. This is why they are such a good indicator of your heart health.

Dr. Jesús Peteiro, a cardiologist at University Hospital a Coruña states ““If it takes you more than one and a half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor.”

Um, OK. That seems simple enough for anyone to try. Or is it? I mean how long is a “flight” of stairs? I could technically find a “flight” of stairs that has four stairs in each “flight” and get to the top in record time. Hooray, I passed, right? We better sort this out….

Let’s get technical

Exactly how long is a flight of stairs? Apparently, the average height of a stair is around 15-19cm. Now, if we take the calculations used by most smart watches these days we can derive that an average flight of stairs has 16 steps or 3 metres of elevation.  This fits within the math of 16 (stairs) x 19 (cm) = 304cm (in elevation), so we’ll go with that as the measure. The end result is this:

Climb 64 stairs or ascend 12 metres in under 90 seconds

If you can do that, I think Dr. Jesús Peteiro is saying you’re in good shape, or at least your heart is.

As we age, it’s vital to keep our heart health and bodies active with oxygen-rich blood pumping throughout. Having an under-active heart can lead to stiffness in the arteries and other coronary heart diseases and we don’t want that.

So now you’ve found your four flights of stairs to take your heart/ fitness test, you’ve also found your gym – a free gym that will not only benefit your heart, but help deliver a multitude of other health benefits which you can read about here.

Great Stair Training Locations Near You

Visit our Training Page for access to a stair map you can use to locate some stairs near you.

Related: Why runners need stairs

Related: The best workout you’re not doing