I’m someone who works from home and my office is on the second floor of my house. So there’s a flight of stairs that separates my primary living space and my office.
So because of this arrangement, I’m basically walking up and down the stairs all the time – either for lunch, bathroom breaks, coffee or even just to give my legs and body some exercise after sitting for a good while.
I’ll even make up excuses to go up and down the stairs just to burn some extra calories here and there!
But usually, I wonder: How many calories do I burn climbing stairs?
My office comes after a flight of 14 stairs, but maybe you have to walk up a flight of 100 stairs or even more! I believe it’s better to burn these calories rather than taking an escalator or elevator, but how good is climbing stairs
Let’s find out!
We’ve also got a cool calculator that’ll help you figure out how many calories you burn walking up and down the stairs.
(If you’re also interested in weight loss and getting a toned body, check out our favorite program for very quick, almost effortless fat loss.)
How to Calculate the Number of Calories Burned By Climbing Stairs
To see how many calories you’re burning by walking up and down a flight of stairs, you have to consider the MET value or the Metabolic Equivalent of Task.
The MET value isn’t just specific to climbing stairs, it is generally used to measure the metabolic value of any physical task.
It does this by measuring how much oxygen you use up during the task as well as your metabolic rate.
The easiest MET reference point is this: Sitting quietly (with no physical activity) is 1 MET – this is also known as your resting metabolic rate.
1 MET equals 1 kilocalorie (kcal) per kilogram (kg) per hour of body weight that is burned.
Other MET examples:
- Sleep: 0.9 MET
- Writing or typing: 1.5 MET
- Walking slowly: 2.3 MET
- Walking quickly: 2.9 MET
- Sexual activity: 5.8 MET
- Jogging or slow running: 7.0 MET
- Sprinting: 23 MET
The formula used to measure the number of calories burned is METs x Weight (kilograms) x Time (hours).
Climbing up a flight of stairs equals around 4 METs, so by calculating how many minutes it takes you to climb a flight of stairs, you’ll be able to estimate the number of calories you’re burning.
Note that all of the MET values used in this article are estimates. Depending on the source of research, you’ll find different values for MET available online.
Here’s a new source that we found recently that includes different numbers than the originally cited article from Havard University. The key is to understand the concept and remember the MET numbers provided within this article are general estimates.
How Many Calories Are Burned Climbing a Flight Stairs?
The average person, weighing approximately 150 pounds, will burn approximately 0.6 calories climbing a normal flight of roughly 13 stairs. It’s is important to note that is an estimate based on a 150-pound person, taking approximately 8 seconds to climb 13 stairs.
Let’s assume you weigh 150 pounds, and you climb a flight of stairs that includes 13 steps.
If you want to know the number of calories that you’ve burned from this stair climbing session, then use the following steps:
- Step One: Convert 150 lbs to kilograms, where 1lb = 0.453593 kg. The answer is 68.04 kg.
- Step Two: Now you need to calculate the amount of time spent doing an activity, converting seconds (or minutes) to hours. For example, if it takes you 8 seconds to walk-up 13 stairs, then the math is as follows:
- 8 seconds converted to minutes (8 seconds / 60 seconds) = 0.1333 minutes.
- 0.1333 minutes converted to hours (0.1333 minutes / 60 minutes) = .00222167 hours.
- Step Three: Now that we have the numerical factors, use the formula: Calories burned = METs x Weight (kg) x Time (hours) to determine how many calories the activity will burn.
If we calculate the average time it will take you to climb the stairs using the aforementioned information and our formula, we calculate that you burned roughly 0.6046 calories by climbing 13 stairs.
You might be thinking that burning almost 1 calorie isn’t a significant accomplishment, but remember that you lost 1 calorie in only 8 seconds!
That’s a significant accomplishment. Also, it’s 4 times the amount of calories you would have burned if you were just sitting in your seat during that same timeframe.
To Give You Motivation, Check Out These Calorie Burning Calculations
Assuming we’re still working with a 150 lbs person’s data, that person will burn:
- 100 stairs climbed: 4.6 calories burned
- 150 stairs climbed: 6.9 calories burned
- 1,000 stairs climbed: 46 calories burned
- 10 minutes of stair climbing: 45.3 calories burned
- 30 minutes of stair climbing: 136 calories burned
You Can Burn Significantly More Calories by Slightly Adjusting Your Workout
Stair climbing isn’t the only way to burn calories, of course. You can continue burning those pesky calories away by modifying your stair climbing routine.
For example, you could jog, run, or even add weights to your workout. We like to use these ankle weights (Amazon link) during our stair climbing routines!
In fact, using our formula we have calculated how many calories you’ll burn performing the following activities:
- Carrying weights between 1 and 15 pounds – 5 MET
- Carrying weight between 16 and 24 pounds – 6 MET
- Carrying weight between 25 and 49 pounds – 8 MET
- Walking fast up the stairs – 8.8 MET
- Running up the stairs – 15 MET
So we can safely assume that a 150-pound person who runs up a flight of stairs takes around 3 seconds (approximately) and burns 0.85 calories on average.
(If you’re interested in burning more calories and accelerating weight loss, we recommend this program for aggressive weight loss.)
Frequently Asked Questions about Climbing Stairs to Burn Calories
In all honestly, climbing stairs burns more calories than any other type of walking. Although the difference isn’t as significant as I expected (which is surprising).
If we go over the MET values that we talked about earlier, climbing stairs burns about 1.5 to 2 times the amount of calories that are burned during normal walking.
The next time you’re at the gym, experiment with this idea. Walk for 5 minutes or so and note the calories burned. Next, head on to the stair-stepping machine and walk for the same amount of time with the same speed and document your results.
Each person’s results will be different. Compare the two numbers and calculate the ratio, you’ll see that climbing stairs definitely burns more calories, but was it as significant as you expected? Please post your results in the comment section.
In the long term, yes. Although, the key to weight loss is your net energy and calories in versus calories out (CICOs). Basically, if you eat fewer calories than you consume, you will lose weight.
Although, if you’re keeping track of your diet and nutrition, climbing stairs can help you burn additional extra calories and lose weight.
If you’re looking for a way to track your caloric intake, we recommend reading this article about the best food journals for yogis. We also include our top picks for journals for weight loss.
As with all attempts to burn fat, you must know that climbing stairs will not solve all your fat burning problems.
You’ll have to maintain a workout schedule and nutritional routine designed to promote weight loss. Climbing stairs can supplement a well-rounded workout and nutritional regimen.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that sometimes your weight loss will seemingly slow to halt. But, has the weight loss progress really stopped? Will it start back after a period of time?
If you have these questions, we highly recommend that you read this recent research on the whoosh effect for weight loss.
This is a common misconception, but climbing stairs can actually help to strengthen your knees. This is because all the additional walking strengthens the muscles that support the knee (such as the ACL and MCL).
In fact, stair climbing is great for the health of your ligaments and your cartilage. Even in rehab, stairs climbing is usually used to nurse bad knees back to health.
However, it’s always a good idea to consult your physician before incorporating a stair climbing regimen into your weekly workout routine if you have bad knees or any other leg related problems. Be careful because you don’t want to hurt yourself.
Actually, if you have bad knees, we recommend incorporating this yoga regimen into your workout designed specifically for people with bad knees.
It’s also a good idea to start slow. Don’t climb too many flights of stairs or start out climbing stairs that are very high. Going slowly allows you to begin with a lower impact on your legs.
Well, it depends on the property. Commercial buildings, apartment complexes, and homes can have a different number of stairs per flight. Even subway platforms and airports can have a different number of stairs per flight, too.
But the rule of thumb is that in residential buildings, a regular flight of stairs will usually be somewhere in the 12 or 13 step range.