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BMC Res Notes. 2013 Mar 8;6:87. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-6-87.

Stair descending exercise increases muscle strength in elderly males with chronic heart failure.

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Laboratory of Exercise, Health and Human Performance, Research Center, European University Cyprus, Engomi, Diogenes Str 6, Nicosia, Cyprus.



Previous studies from our group have shown that "pure" eccentric exercise performed on an isokinetic dynamometer can induce health-promoting effects that may improve quality of life. In order to investigate whether the benefits of "pure" eccentric exercise can be transferred to daily activities, a new and friendlier way to perform eccentric exercise had to be invented. To this end, we have proceeded to the design and construction of an automatic escalator, offering both stair descending (eccentric-biased) and stair ascending (concentric-biased) exercise.


Twelve elderly males (60-70 yr) with chronic heart failure participated in the present study. Participants carried out six weeks of stair descending or ascending training on the novel SmartEscalator device. Muscle damage and performance indices were evaluated before and at day 2 post exercise at the first and sixth week of training. Both training regimes increased, albeit not significantly in some cases, eccentric, concentric and isometric torque. After six weeks of stair descending exercise, eccentric, concentric and isometric peak torque increased 12.3%, 7.7% and 8.8%, respectively, whereas after stair ascending exercise eccentric, concentric and isometric peak torque increased 7.1%, 9.6% and 5.9%, respectively.


Stair descending exercise appears to be a pleasant and mild activity that can be easily followed by the elderly. Compared to the more demanding stair ascending exercise, changes in muscle strength are similar or even greater. Elderly or people with impaired endurance wishing to increase their muscle strength may be benefited by participating in activities with strong eccentric component, such as stair descending.

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