Objective: Stair climbing is highlighted as a component of a regiment of daily physical activity by various health agencies. This study examined the association between daily stair climbing, as measured by floor of residence in buildings without elevators, and body mass index (BMI).
Methods: We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of housing and health, conducted by the WHO in eight European cities in 2002 and 2003. BMI was computed from self-reported height and weight; respondent and housing characteristics were also included in regression models that accounted for the clustering of respondents within the same household.
Results: Among 2846 normal weight adults, there was an interaction between floor of residence and sex (P=0.017). Among men, residence on a higher floor was significantly associated with lower BMI (P=0.003); BMI of men residing on the fourth floor or above was 0.88 lower than men residing on the first floor. Among women, there was no significant association between floor of residence and BMI (P=0.161).
Conclusions: These results suggest an association between daily stair climbing and BMI among men but not among women. If replicated, these results support initiatives encouraging stair climbing as a path toward physical fitness among men.