ClimbCorps program taking steps to improve workers’ health

BOSTON MA.01/25/13: After reaching the top...bottle in hand, Maria Julia Silva ( cq by pr ) comes down from the climb. Brigham and Women's staff exercise routinely up 11 flights, 288 steps during lunchtime all with a nice view atop at the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center in the hospital and this week getting ready for ClimbCorps event this weekend. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 26stairclimbphoto
After reaching the top, bottle in hand, Maria Julia Silva comes down from the climb at the Brigham’s Shapiro Cardiovascular Center.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Forget the idea of a traditional office gym — one Boston-based group is taking to the stairs to get workers in the city’s tallest buildings moving.

BOSTON MA.01/25/13: A WARM UP EXERCISE in the lobby before the climb for L-R Cathy Delaware ( cq by pr ) , Errol Wallace (cq) wearing surgical booties and Dr Elizabeth Nabel ( cq by pr ) BWH President who does do the climb. Brigham and Women's staff exercise routinely up 11 flights, 288 steps during lunchtime all with a nice view atop at the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center in the hospital and this week getting ready for ClimbCorps event this weekend. ( David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 26stairclimbphoto
People warmed up in the lobby before the climb (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)The Boston Globe

Multiple times a week, members of ClimbCorps ascend and descend the stairs of the downtown buildings where they work as a part of a Brigham and Women’s Hospital initiative. Currently in its first year, the program seeks to spread awareness of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the country and the disease that also is the most preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Annette Rubin is one of the originators behind ClimbCorps and its national partner, ClimbAmerica. She and others began work on the initiative in 2011 and in August 2012, the program launched with 20 health-minded recent college graduates deployed to 10 Boston buildings to coordinate the stair climbs.

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Their aim? To utilize an undervalued resource in multistory buildings: the stairs.

“This is where people spend so much of their time, and spend much of their time at their desks,” Rubin said. “The stairs are a built-in fitness center. They’re an underutilized resource in these buildings.”

Though the program is free, Corps members must work in the buildings and must register for their building’s ClimbClub, which is coordinated by the graduates. They take to the building’s stairwells every day for hour-and-a-half-long stair-climbing sessions.

Last week alone, Corps members climbed over 182,188 steps in one of the Prudential Tower’s stairwells.

Judy Silvia, a worker at the Brigham and Women’s, started participating in ClimbClub around the beginning of December, climbing two to three times a week during her lunch break. She said she has already noticed a difference in her fitness level, despite being a frequent gym-goer prior to taking to the steps in her building with ClimbCorps.

“The first time I did it, I only made it up and down one time, but then you get used to it,” said Silvia, a 41-year-old Jamaica Plain resident.

Now, she can tackle the building’s 10 flights of stairs up to four times.

“When you get to the top, you’re tired and by the time you get to the bottom, you’re fine,” Silvia said.

One of the best things about the program is the extra time her workday workout creates, allowing more time to be able to spend with the family.

“Now, this is going to the gym for me,” she said.

This weekend, hundreds of people are set to take to the stairs for ClimbCorps’ fund-raiser, taking place at 100 Summer St. on Saturday and at the Prudential Center tower on Sunday. For more information, visit giving.brighamandwomens.org/climbcorps_attendanevent.

Those interested in learning more about ClimbCorps can visit giving.brighamandwomens.org/climbcorps.

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