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How many calories are burned walking a flight of stairs?


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August 18, 2010 8:55PM
  • You burn about 100 calories when you run a mile. So, you're not burning much going up a flight of stairs.
  • Cardio exercise such as brisk walking, running, and jogging, etc., when done correctly, is far more effective for fat burning than walking up a flight of stairs. For information about how to do cardio correctly, see the relevant page, further down this page, listed underRelated Questions.
  • The above answer is true for "a" flight of stairs but if you're using that as a measurement point don't be discouraged; climbing stairs is in fact a great workout. According to one website, a 70-kg person (about 154 lbs) burns 10 calories per minute when ascending, and 7 calories per minute when descending, a flight of stairs. Therefore, if you climb up 10 sets of stairs (which will take an average of 5 minutes), you will burn 50 calories. That's more or less the equivalent of one slice of bread for a 5-minute workout. Pretty impressive.
  • Well, I am not sure if I agree. According to physics Potential energy mass * gravity * height ascended. In this knowledge if a person is 75kg, one flight of stairs is 2m and gravity is 10 m/(s^2) then the energy you use up in climbing one flight of stairs is:75 * 10 * 2 1500 j = 636 calories. [ls this logic flawed..? Is there something this logic is missing?]
  • The "flaw" in the above logic is simply that the "calories" that we talk about for nutritional purposes is actually a kilocalorie (kcal). So, your math on one flight of stairs is about .636 "calories" (nutritional). This is a pretty good approximation and consistent with your other numbers.
  • In addition, when using physics to answer these questions, we treat the person as if he were just a particle (which is not the case), and in fact, you burn many more calories in the real world (the traditional introduction to this concept is how much one would have to climb to burn off 2500 kcal, which approximates to the height of Mt. Everest, although in the real world, we know you would burn many more kilocalories than that).