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BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The associations between intensity of stair climbing and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and how these vary by underlying disease susceptibility are not fully understood. We aim to evaluate the intensity of stair climbing and risk of ASCVD types and whether these vary with the presence of ASCVD risk factors. METHODS: This prospective study used data of 458,860 adult participants from the UK Biobank. Information about stair climbing, sociodemographic, and lifestyle factors was collected at baseline and a resurvey 5 years after baseline. ASCVD was defined as coronary artery disease (CAD), ischemic stroke (IS), or acute complications. Associations between flights of stair climbing and ASCVD were examined as hazard ratios (HRs) from Cox proportional hazards models. The modification role of disease susceptibility on such associations was assessed by analyses stratified by levels of genetic risk score (GRS), 10-year risks of ASCVD, and self-reported family history of ASCVD. RESULTS: During a median of 12.5 years of follow-up, 39,043 ASCVD, 30,718 CAD, and 10,521 IS cases were recorded. Compared with the reference group (reported climbing stairs 0 times/day at baseline), the multivariable-adjusted HRs for ASCVD were 0.97 (95% CI, 0.93-1.01), 0.84 (0.82-0.87), 0.78 (0.75-0.81), 0.77 (0.73-0.80) and 0.81 (0.77-0.85) for stair climbing of 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 and ≥21 times/day, respectively. Comparable results were obtained for CAD and IS. When stratified by different disease susceptibility based on the GRS for CAD/IS, 10-year risk, and family history of ASCVD, the protection association of stair climbing was attenuated by increasing levels of disease susceptibility. Furthermore, compared with people who reported no stair climbing (<5 times/d) at two examinations, those who climbed stairs at baseline and then stopped at resurvey experienced a 32% higher risk of ASCVD (HR 1.32, 95% CI:1.06-1.65). CONCLUSIONS: Climbing more than five flights of stairs (approx 50 steps) daily was associated with a lower risk of ASCVD types independent of disease susceptibility. Participants who stopped stair climbing between baseline and resurvey had a higher risk of ASCVD compared with those who never climbed stairs.

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Journal article



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Cardiovascular diseases, Epidemiology, Physical activity, Stair climbing