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What Are the Benefits of Stair Climbing?

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
What Are the Benefits of Stair Climbing?
A young woman is climbing up stairs. Photo Credit: lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Climbing stairs often is recommended as a weight loss strategy. Stair climbing also has become a competitive sport. The number of races up the stairwells in some of the tallest buildings in North America doubled from 1999 to 2007, according to a report by Columbia News Service. Stair climbing offers benefits to competitors and casual exercisers.

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Calorie Burn

Climbing stairs burns calories, which can help you better manage your weight. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator helps you increase your overall activity, contributing to a higher daily calorie burn. For example, a 150-lb. person will burn about 544 calories just walking up stairs for an hour, according to The sport of stair climbing, which involves running up stairs, burns nearly twice as many calories as such sports as volleyball and baseball, according to The number of calories you burn will depend on your weight, the slope of the stairs, number of stairs and your pace.

General Fitness

Stair climbing enhances your cardiovascular fitness. According to a 2000 study of sedentary young women in the journal Preventative Medicine, a short-term stair-climbing workout provides considerable cardiovascular health benefits. Stair climbing also requires more effort than walking or running on flat ground, according to


Stair climbing requires significant energy and burns plenty of calories in a short period of time. Because of this, you can achieve the benefits of a longer, more moderate workout in a shorter amount of time. Stair climbing requires no special equipment and can be performed by most exercisers, regardless of their fitness level.

Develop Strength

During stair climbing, you must use your leg muscles to haul yourself up. You'll work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and core body. To make the workout harder and to further train your legs, don't swing the arms or use the banister.

Cross Training

Because stair climbing challenges your aerobic and anaerobic systems, it can help runners, swimmer, cyclists and other competitive athletes improve their endurance and sprint performance. Cross training with stair climbing helps combat boredom by varying your routine. If you're using stair climbing as a primary cardio and leg workout, cross train with strength training exercises for the upper body. Climbing stairs doesn't work the the arm muscles such as biceps, triceps and deltoids. In between sets of stairs, do strength exercises such push-ups and tricep dips. Add in additional abdominal exercises as needed.

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