Why Feel Breathless When Climbing Stairs?

Finding yourself out of breath after climbing just one flight of stairs? Even after you reached the top and are walking down the hall, do you still find your breathing is labored as if you have just run a half marathon? When you are in this condition, you may begin to wonder about how out of shape you are or if this is something you should be more concerned about. To find out what you can do about this and if it is something to worry about, read on.

Out of Breath Easily When Climbing Stairs: Is It Normal and Why?

The good news is that this is completely normal whether you work out regularly or rarely ever. The following are just some of the most common explanation for your shortness of breath when going upstairs.

You are already training rigorously at the gym.

Walking up stairs combines aerobic exercise with strength training. If you are already on a strict training schedule or workout regimen, this additional activity can quickly leave you breathless.

You've reached your threshold.

Everyone tends to get winded after a certain amount of steps and this number can be different for everyone. Your body is able to cope with a certain amount of change when going up steps, but when you reach your threshold, your body begins to register that it needs to send more oxygen to the muscles to help keep you going up the stairs, making you feel breathless.

You change activities suddenly.

Going from walking a flat or straight way path to walking up an inclined set of steps very quickly can easily make you winded. You become oxygen depleted and your heart rate increases suddenly when you go from simply walking to go upstairs which may take you a little longer to get your breathing back to normal.

Your brain tells your body to stop breathing.

If you are in a hurry and dash up a flight of stairs, there's a logical explanation why you get out of breath easily when climbing stairs. Your brain actually signals your body to stop or slow down your breathing to focus solely on the task of getting up the stairs quickly.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Handle the Condition?

Take the stairs more often

If you want to be able to condition your body to get up a flight of stairs more easily, then you need to take them more often.


Changing up the speed you go when climbing a flight of stairs can help condition your lungs. Adding in a bit of interval training when taking the stairs, such as going fast up one flight then slow the next or taking two steps at a time, makes your body more efficient at using oxygen during this intense activity.

Leg training

When taking the stairs, there is a good chance that your legs are going to become tired before your lungs are tired. You want to add some weight training leg exercises so that your legs can handle carrying your full weight on one leg.

Step ups

Step ups help build strength and increase endurance. Hold a weight or dumbbell in each hand and step up to a low bench or sturdy stool. Start with the right foot and then bring the left foot up. Then step down with right foot first. Repeat this 15 times on each leg 3 times.


If you find yourself out of breath easily when climbing stairs, then squats are a highly beneficial exercise that can increase your lower body strength and improve your endurance. To perform a squat, stand with the feet at shoulder width. Keep the chest up with the hands in front and the abdomen pushed slightly in. Inhale and lower the hips to a sitting position until they are parallel to the knees. Raise back up by putting your weight on the heels of the feet and repeat 15 times before taking a quick rest and continue another two times.

Toe Taps

This simple exercise can help build up your cardio endurance. Place a low standing box or use a medicine ball in front of you. Begin with the toes of one of your feet on the ball or box and jump into the air. While jumping, you want to alternate your feet so when you land, the opposite toes are on the box or ball. Do this for 20 seconds, then rest and repeat two more times.

Other Conditions When Out of Breath Easily Is Normal


Stress and anxiety can send the body into fight or flight mode, signaling your body that it needs more oxygen. If you are feeling overly stressed, your body already thinks it isn't getting enough oxygen and when you combine this with the oxygen your body needs to fuel your muscle to climb a set of stairs, you can quickly lose your breath.


When you are climbing stairs in a new location that is at a higher-altitude, it is common to become out of breath easily. Even if you never experienced being out of breath easily when climbing stairs before, it's possible because the higher-altitude means there is less oxygen in the air.


Pregnancy tends to bring on a significant amount of water weight which increases blood volume. This, however, doesn't mean there are more red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body. Instead, you need more oxygen to keep up proper circulation and when climbing stairs, you can find yourself easily feeling winded and out of breath.

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