Finding time for fitness can sometimes be a challenge, but with a little creativity, you can turn an ordinary activity into a quick, heart-pumping, calorie-burning workout. If going up the stairs is a common occurrence in your day, then knowing how to convert stairs to miles is a necessity.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Climbing Stairs
The health benefits of aerobic activity include more than just burning calories. By regularly participating in cardiovascular exercise such as climbing stairs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
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The minimum guidelines for general health set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say that adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, plus two or more days of muscle-strengthening exercises that involve all major muscle groups.
Whether you're aiming for the minimum of 150 minutes per week of cardiovascular exercise or you're working on meeting the American Heart Association's target of 300 minutes, which can lead to even more health benefits, make it a point to take the stairs every single day. In addition to boosting your cardio fitness, trekking up the stairs is also a fantastic leg workout.
Climbing steps requires you to recruit the muscles in your lower body, which means you can strengthen and tone the calves, quads, glutes and hamstrings while simultaneously improving your aerobic capacity. Plus, since it is considered a weight-bearing exercise, you're able to strengthen your bones, which helps to prevent falls and fractures and may reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Converting Stairs to Miles
Fitting in fitness throughout the day contributes to your total weekly cardio minutes, plus, it also leads to a higher calorie burn. If you're curious about how many steps you need to take in order to reach a mile, then you need to know how to convert steps to miles.
To do this, you first need to count the number of steps you climb and multiply that number by 17, which is the standard number of inches for most steps. This measurement accounts for tread and rise. The result of this equation is the number of inches you are climbing.
Next, you need to convert miles into inches. This will turn the number of stairs you climbed into miles. To do this, multiply the 5,280 feet in a mile by 12 inches, and you get 63,360, which means, one mile is equal to 63,360 inches.
With that in mind, if you climb 1,000 stairs in a day, that would equal 17,000 inches, which falls short of the one-mile goal. So, if you want to aim for one mile of steps, you will need to climb 3,727 steps (63,360 divided by 17 inches).
Read more: Walking a Mile a Day for Weight Loss
If you don’t know the number of steps, or you forgot, you can always go by the flights of stairs you climb. The average number of steps in a flight of stairs is between 12 and 16 steps. If you use 14 as the target, multiply that by the total flights of stairs, and you will arrive at the number of steps.
Climbing Stairs for Weight Loss
While climbing all those stairs may seem like a lot of work just to get one mile of walking in, keep in mind that each step you take, also burns calories. In fact, a small December 2012 study published in PLOS One, reports that the average rate of energy expenditure of climbing one step is 0.09 calories. Times that number by 3,727, which is the number of steps in one mile, and you will burn 335 calories.
To meet your goal, look for ways at work, home or even running errands to add a few flights of stairs to your daily activities. Start your morning with the staircase at work and head there for 10 minutes of climbing at lunch.
When running errands, skip the elevator and instead, look for the nearest exit sign leading to a flight of stairs. Find a set of stairs close to your house and head there in the evening for 10 to 15 minutes of climbing.
You can also turn a set of stairs into a full workout by adding lunges, push-ups, squats and planks to the routine. To do this, run the stairs for 10 minutes. Then do 20 squats, 20 walking lunges, 20 push-ups and 30 seconds of planks. Repeat this circuit until you reach your desired time.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Losing Weight"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- American Heart Association: "American Heart Association Recommendation for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids"
- Metric Conversions: "Miles to Inches Formula"
- PLOS One: "The Energy Expenditure of Stair Climbing One Step and Two Steps at a Time: Estimations From Measures of Heart Rate"
- Mayo Clinic: "Bone Health: Tips to Keep Your Bones Healthy"