Why Do We Get Out of Breath After Climbing Stairs?

Why Do We Get Out of Breath After Climbing Stairs?

Let’s say it out loud, few of us are in good shape — we all have a few extra pounds and could definitely work out a bit more often. So, is not being fit the reason why we get out of breath after climbing the stairs? Or is there something wrong with you?

We’re sure it’s easy to see why we get out of breath after running for an hour around the park but are stairs really that challenging? They aren’t, and you shouldn’t lose your breath. Here’s all you need to know about why you get out of breath after climbing the stairs. Don’t worry; it’s surely nothing too serious.

Respiratory obstruction

Let’s start with one of the most dangerous reasons why you might get out of breath after any physical activity. Mucus is the most common cause of lung obstruction, but atherosclerosis can cause it too. Even liquid in your lungs will prevent you from catching a breath, and it might lead to respiratory arrest. You might also experience coughing and chest pain. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor.

Inflammation in the lungs

Inflamed lungs will cause getting out of breath or dyspnea. And inflammation can happen for many reasons, from dehydration to an infection and from air pollution to allergens. As the lung’s airways lose their ability to capture oxygen, your brain forces them to pant as soon as you do minor physical activities.

Clotted arteries

When blood doesn’t flow freely through your veins and arteries, your body can’t irrigate your muscles, making your lungs try to catch more air. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with overweight, are common causes of blocked arteries. Getting out of breath often could be a symptom of something worse, as you’re at risk of suffering severe heart disease.

A weak heart

A weak heart can’t pump blood to your muscles fast enough, which means they don’t have enough oxygen. As you make your heart work extra hard, it calls for more oxygen, and you start panting. If your heart is weak enough, even simple tasks like walking a few blocks can cause shortness of breath. The condition is called congestive heart failure, and it’s no joke. Talk to your doctor.


Deconditioning means that you’re not in good shape, so your muscles are deteriorated. This happens when you have a sedentary lifestyle and don’t move around much. If your heart doesn’t have enough strength to pump oxygen to your muscles, you get dyspnea. Working out and strengthening your body is the best way of fighting deconditioning. Luckily for you, it’s completely reversible.

High altitude

The higher you go, the less oxygen there is. And if you’re in an unfamiliar city or a foreign country, you might be higher in elevation than you think, and that’s causing you to get out of breath after climbing just a few flights of stairs. If that’s the case, you have nothing to worry about; your body will get used to the high altitude in a few days.

A virus

Many viruses attack the lungs, including the ones that cause the flu, common cold or coronavirus. If you have other respiratory symptoms like a runny nose, chest pain, coughing or sneezing, you’ll probably also have difficulty breathing even after going up one flight of stairs. The good news is that most of these viruses can be controlled with medicine.

Start working out and catch a breath!

Although some serious conditions can cause you to get out of breath, the most probable one is that you’re just not in shape and have unhealthy eating habits. Well, that’s an easy fix — just move around a bit more, take a spinning class, take long walks or dance to your favorite music. You’ll be surprised how fast your body gets stronger with a bit of exercise.

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