You've probably heard that taking the stairs instead of the elevator is better for you. But are the benefits of climbing stairs for 10 minutes that much better than other forms of exercise like walking? Depending on your goals and current health, you may want to add stair climbing to your workouts.
Depending on your current weight and the intensity of activity, you can expect to burn between 35 and 70 calories going up and down the stairs for 10 minutes.
Calories Burned Using the Stairs
Increasing the number of calories you burn in a day is easy if you look for opportunities to be more physically active. For example, using the stairs rather than the elevator or even the escalator at work or while shopping can really boost your overall calorie burn.
Another option is to incorporate the stairs into your fitness routine. A quick 10-minute workout of walking the stairs at a moderate pace can result in a calorie burn of 3.5 to 7 calories per minute, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walking downstairs equates to about 35 to 70 calories for 10 minutes.
When indoors, you can also use a stair-step machine at the gym, especially if you do not have access to a flight of stairs. That said, it's important to note that a stair-stepper only requires you to walk up the stairs, not down the stairs.
And because of the variables, it's difficult to asses calorie burn going both up and down the stairs in one workout, especially since going down the stairs requires less effort than going up. With that in mind, you can expect to burn fewer calories walking down a flight of stairs than you would walking or running up the stairs.
If you plan on going the stair-climbing machine route, Harvard Health Publishing says that a 125-pound person can burn 60 calories in 10 minutes on a stair-climbing machine. A 155-pound person can burn approximately 74 calories, and a 185-pound person can burn about 88 calories in 10 minutes.
Stair-Climbing Pros and Cons
As with any form of exercise, there are some advantages and disadvantages of climbing stairs.
Running or walking up and down the stairs targets the large muscles in your lower body and, consequently, helps strengthen and tone your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Other than the obvious benefit of a higher overall calorie burn, the benefits of climbing stairs for 10 minutes also include an increase in physical activity and better overall cardiovascular health.
Since stair climbing is a weight-bearing exercise, you can also improve your bone health and increase coordination and balance, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
While there are several benefits to climbing the stairs, there are some disadvantages of climbing stairs that you should know. First, if you have arthritis of the knee, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends minimizing activities such as stair climbing that aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.
The AAOS also says patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is pain in front of the knee, can flare up from climbing stairs. Since stair climbing puts repeated stress on the knee, switching to a low-impact form of exercise, such as cycling or swimming, can help manage symptoms.
When it comes to using the stairs for exercise, remember to listen to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort, discontinue this activity. If the pain continues, ask your doctor or a physical therapist for recommendations to make stair climbing easier on your body.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Exercise for Your Bone Health"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity"
- Mayo Clinic: "Exercising: Does Taking the Stairs Count?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Step It Up: 7 Quick Stair Exercises to Do at Home"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Arthritis of the Knee"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome"