Why do stairs get harder with age?

The older you get the more challenging stairs seem – but why is this?

The truth is that stairs are incredibly demanding regardless of age, our younger selves are just more equipped to face them. If you’ve ever walked up a flight of stairs and felt more winded than the last time you ran a mile, it isn’t your imagination. You may be surprised to learn that stair-climbing requires more energy compared to running! When you climb up stairs you’re working against gravity and when you come down this puts a greater amount of force on the lower body. Not to mention that you use muscles you don’t normally use when you climb stairs.

So, what happens when we get older?

Loss of muscle strength

As we age we lose muscle strength. From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s you start to lose muscle mass and function. This typically starts to noticeably accelerate around age 75. Symptoms can include weakness and loss of stamina, which can interfere with physical activity. Reduced activity further shrinks muscle mass.

Reduced Flexibility

During the ageing process we lose a small amount of flexibility. This is typically due to a loss of water in our tissues and spine, increased stiffness in our joints and a loss of elasticity throughout the muscle tendons and surrounding tissue. Climbing upstairs requires a greater range of motion but with less flexibility you may struggle to clear the steps.


With age and inactivity, the unconscious processes your brain goes through to help you balance may not integrate as well or as quickly as they used to. Put simply, your cognitive abilities decline.


When you age your eyesight starts to deteriorate, increasing susceptibility to glare and poor depth perception. This can lead you to misinterpret or misjudge distance, which can cause a fall or at the very least make you hesitant with each step.


The good news is that a lot of the ageing symptoms associated with struggling with the stairs can be alleviated or slowed down simply by becoming more active. A regular exercise regime that improves strength and balance can make all the difference.


Do you feel like you are starting to feel the strain from climbing the stairs? Our recent blog article ‘Signs that it may be time to install a stairlift’ could help you decide. There’s no reason to struggle, we’d love to discuss with you how we could help.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a friendly, no pressure chat about your current situation. Sykes Stairlifts are a family run business and have been established for over 35 years, trading from our Woodseats, Sheffield showroom.

We offer stairlifts and stairlift services to Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham. Chesterfield, Peak District Derby, Mansfield & Nottingham.