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Weight Loss » Calories Burned Per Flight Of Stairs: How Can You Stair-Step Your Way To Weight Loss?

Calories Burned Per Flight Of Stairs: How Can You Stair-Step Your Way To Weight Loss?

calories burned per flight of stairs

Calories Burned Per Flight Of Stairs

Calorie burn is an essential component of every weight loss process. No matter which foods you eat or how often you exercise, if you’re not burning more than consuming, those pesky pounds won’t go away. While training and diet are two most often mentioned ways to guarantee effective weight loss, there are various little tricks and tweaks to accelerate the melt of extra pounds. One of those lifehacks is taking stairs instead of the elevator on every occasion.

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How many calories are burned per flight of stairs? Does it make a substantial or negligible difference to your weight loss success? Read this article to calculate the number of calories burned per flight of stairs, while running or slowly going up, concerning your current weight.  

Calories Burned Climbing Flight of Stairs: The METs

To calculate the number of calories burned per flight of stairs, you first need to know what MET is. MET or Metabolic Equivalent of Task is determined by how much energy your body uses during the performance of a certain physical activity. This number is standardized so that it can be efficiently used by different people. It is also much easier to compare different types of exercises to each other using such a method. One MET is defined either as 1kcal per kg of bodyweight per hour and is approximately equivalent to the energy you spend sitting at rest or in a form of oxygen uptake, where 1 MET equals 3.5 ml per kg per minute (1). 

Here are some usual activities and their MET numbers for reference (3):

  • Walking slowly, less than 2 mph – 2.0 MET
  • Gardening, light – 2.0 MET
  • General house cleaning – 3.0 MET
  • Walking briskly, 3 mph – 3.3 MET
  • Heavy yard work or gardening – 4.0 MET
  • Bicycling, casual, less than 10 mph – 4.0 MET
  • Dancing (ballet or modern) – 4.8 MET
  • Bicycling, 10-16 mph – 6–10 MET

How many calories are burned in walking up a flight of stairs? On average, MET for climbing stairs is 4.0. 

This is a moderate number, yet it is twice higher than those of walking or standing. That means climbing stairs does help you burn some more calories, melt extra pounds, and tone up. Want to know the exact number? Calculate below.

calories burned per flight of stairs calculator
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Calories Burned Per Flight of Stairs Calculator

The formula to calculate calories burned per flight of stairs is very simple:

Calories burned = METs x Weight (kg) x Time (hours)

You already know the MET for climbing stairs, so you just need to put in your weight and the time you’ve spent climbing up the stairs. 

First, you need to convert your weight into kilograms: 1 lb equals 0.453592 kg. 

So, if your weight is 170 lbs, you simply have to do the following:

170 x 0.453592 = 77 kg. 

Now, you need the time spent during the activity. It is much more practical to use this number than the flight of stairs as the number of stairs in different flights may vary greatly. 

On average, climbing a flight of 13 stairs takes about 8 seconds. 

8 seconds = 8/60 of a minute = 0.13 minutes = 0.13/60 of an hour = 0.002222 hours. 

Finally, you can calculate the answer: 

Calories burned = METS (4) x Weight (77kg) x Time (.00222 hours)= 0.68 calories. 

So, you spend between 0.5 and one calorie while climbing one flight of stairs. Doesn’t look a lot, but that’s just 8 seconds. And it’s 4 times more than what you’d have burned by just sitting on your sofa scrolling through social media.

calories burned running a flight of stairs
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Does Running Stairs Help Burn Calories?

Burning more calories running rather than walking up the stairs should not come as a surprise. 

Here’s a list outlining the number of calories burned running a flight of stairs, as well as some other similar activities (5):

  • You burn 5 calories per minute by walking slowly upstairs. 
  • You burn 11 calories per minute climbing stairs at a fast pace.
  • 11 calories are burned per minute on a stair climber or stair-treadmill.
  • You burn 19 calories per minute if you run up stairs.

How many calories are burned walking down a flight of stairs? You burn 4 calories per minute walking downstairs, which is about the same as walking on flat ground.

You burn just 1.6 calories per minute standing on an escalator or in an elevator. 

So, as you can clearly see, the number of calories burned running a flight of stairs is significantly higher than through walking.

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how many calories are burned per flight of stairs
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Benefits of Climbing Stairs

The calories you burn are just one of the benefits of stair climbing. 

Climbing stairs will improve your cardiovascular fitness and lung health, reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. Lower LDL cholesterol is associated with decreased risks of heart attack, stroke, and even wrinkles (2). 

Climbing stairs increases the strength of your body. When climbing stairs, you must use your leg muscles to haul yourself up. You’ll train your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and core by climbing stairs (6). 

Finally, insofar as stair climbing challenges your aerobic and anaerobic systems. Regular stair climbing can improve endurance and sprint performance of competitive athletes like runners, swimmers, and cyclers (6). 

How to Maximize Calories Burned Per Flight of Stairs?

As you already know, one of the options is running instead of walking up. Here are some other tips to reap the full benefits of stair climbing (4):

  • Keep a light hand on the railing

A light hand on the railing does not weaken your performance. Instead, it helps a lot, especially if you want to increase speed. Also, if you use the railing to pull yourself up the stairs, you get a kind of upper-body workout. Some people who perform challenging stair-climbing workouts pull themselves up by the railing to go faster and take some strain off their legs.

calories burned climbing flight of stairs
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  • Do double-step climbing

Climbing two steps at a time will give muscles in your legs and buttocks a more strenuous and challenging workout, and will yield more calorie burn. However, you should be cautious with double-step climbing if you have knee problems, poor balance, or short legs. 

  • Walking down stairs

Yes, walking upstairs burns more calories on average, but walking down has specific benefits too. In fact, it is a productive form of “eccentric exercise” in which muscles are lengthened by the load they are contracting against. When going downstairs, the front thigh muscles or quadriceps perform eccentric contractions to support the body on every single stair, which improves functional fitness. 

  • Use a stair-climbing machine

Using a stair-climbing machine usually puts less strain on hips, ankles, and knees than real stair climbing, which could be an advantage in case you have arthritis or biomechanical problems. However, real stairs tend to allow those joints to stretch in a fuller range of motion, which is a definite plus. Besides, as it involves a stronger impact, real stair climbing yields greater bone benefits. In short, unless you have specific constraints, regular stair climbing is more productive.

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Conclusion

To sum up, you get up to two calories burned per flight of stairs. Climbing stairs regularly can help you somewhat accelerate your weight loss process. However, simply walking up to the 10th floor of your apartment every evening won’t yield magical results. You have to stick to a healthy diet and train regularly to achieve the desired shape. Look through the Keto and Vegetarian diets for examples of nutritious dietary plans. Besides, you should never forget to keep your fluid intake high, especially at times of strenuous physical activity. Gulp a bottle of plain water before and after your workout session to magnify the results.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report (2018, health.gov)
  2. Calories Burned Climbing One Flight of Stairs (2019, livestrong.com)
  3. MET-hour equivalents of various physical activities (2009, health.harvard.edu)
  4. Stair Climbing: How to Get the Most Benefits (2018, berkeleywellness.com)
  5. Take the Stairs to Stay Fit and Healthy (2019, verywellfit.com)
  6. What Are the Benefits of Stair Climbing? (n.d., livestrong.com)
Alex Porter

Alex Porter

Alex is a professional writer who takes pride in helping people achieve their health goals and motivates others to start taking care of their bodies through exercise and proper nutrition. Being a part of the BetterMe Team, he is extremely inspired by our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle, which includes not only physical, but also mental well-being. Alex emphasizes the importance of safe yet efficient workouts and healthy diets. His main goal is to make more people realize how essential these aspects are, and how drastically they can improve their lives.

Inga Grebeniuk-Gillyer

Inga Grebeniuk-Gillyer

Hey there! I'm a European Champion in synchronized swimming who holds a Bachelor degree in Physical Education. I have experience in working with Olympic level athletes, produced National Champions, State Champions and helped athletes secure their spots on the National teams.
I don't just want to work with professional athletes. I strongly believe that my purpose is to help anybody I work with to achieve their fitness goals and become their best self.

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