October 7, 2015

Why is hiking so different from stair climbing?

Not sure if I’ve posted about this before, but I bought a Fitbit Charge HR about a month ago, thanks to my new team in Dallas. They pretty much all wear Fitbits, and they have “Work Week Hustle” challenges every week to see who can get the most steps in Monday through Friday. I have to admit, I haven’t paid much attention to the leaderboard (last week I won and didn’t even realize it till after the fact?) – though I think part of that is that I’ve been traveling and haven’t been sitting in the office with the team much. However, what’s been really interesting to me is seeing the various stats on my Fitbit.

For example, I’ve never really used heart rate data before, which the Fitbit Charge HR tracks (as implied by the name). As it turns out, my resting heart rate is surprisingly low – when I wake up in the morning, it’s typically around 48 or so, and if I’m sitting at my desk, it’s usually around 55-60 (depending on how stressful my work is!). Meanwhile, I keep forgetting to start recording my workouts when I exercise, and so I frequently turn that on a few minutes in, but it’s been interesting to see my average heart rate for a workout… specifically because I see that I take it easy a lot. I find that the elliptical is one where I can inadvertently cheat myself, and I really have to focus to make sure I’m going hard and keeping my heart rate up.

But the most surprising Fitbit discovery came this weekend, when I did a relatively easy hike on Sunday. It was from the ranger’s cottage at Chatauqua up to Royal Arch – which is only about 3.2 miles total and 1400 feet of gain. Well, I was shocked when I ended my workout and my Fitbit told me that I had climbed the equivalent of 150 flights of stairs! When you do the math and assume a flight of stairs is about 10 feet of elevation gain, it makes sense (and this hike goes up and down for parts of it, not a straight shot up).

So, how is it that I can climb 150 flights of stairs and consider it an “easy” Sunday morning, but at the office, I sometimes take the elevator to the 4th floor? (And other times I walk it and arrive totally breathless.) Well, I think the answer to that lies with the study that says stress levels and heart rates go down with beautiful views 🙂

I couldn’t even see past the fog on Sunday, but just being in the mountains still made me so happy 🙂 Too bad our office stairwells don’t look like this…

So now I’m off to “dance club cardio” class at Grit by Brit tonight. Let’s see if awesome music keeps me as happy and relaxed as the views do? I am going to bet right now that my heart rate and step count will be through the roof 🙂


4 thoughts on “Why is hiking so different from stair climbing?”

  1. TOTALLY agree with this!! I have no idea how I can lift so many weights but, when it comes time to carry groceries in to the house, i can’t seem to carry more than 10 pounds. Not to mention the steps… I can’t remember the last time I went up a flight of steps w/out getting out of breath. Maybe it is just my slow slide into old age?

    1. It’s strange how some steps are worse than others. I feel like I could run up and down the steps at my house all day long, but I really struggle with the four flights at my office.

  2. I have a Fitbit that is two months old. I don’t hike but I like tracking my daily routine steps, especially my sleep and rests. Thanks for sharing this blog.

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