Friday Fitness Tip on the Fly - take the stairs

If you work in an office building or stay at a hotel, you're bound by fire escape regulatory requirements to have the option of using the stairs to make it up to your room or office on the 22nd floor.  But stairs aren't just for emergencies, as they can often be faster than waiting for a crowded elevator if you're just going up or down a couple of flights.  A little known fact about ditching the elevator for the stairs is that the additional calories burned can really add up over time.  According to, a 160-lb person burns the following amount of calories on average by using the stairs:
  • 2 calories for one flight of 12 steps, about 0.17 calories per step climbed.
  • 5 calories per minute walking slowly upstairs. These are calories they wouldn't burn standing on an escalator or taking an elevator.
  • 11 calories per minute climbing stairs at a fast speed.
  • 11 calories per minute on a stairclimber or stair-treadmill
  • 19 calories per minute running up stairs.
  • 4 calories per minute walking down stairs, about the same as walking on flat ground.
  • 1.6 calories per minute standing on an escalator or in an elevator, one-third of the calories expended by taking the stairs at a slow pace.
  • Over the course of a year, you might lose over half a pound if your only lifestyle change was taking the stairs for 1 minute a day.

You might not think much about the 0.17 calories per step climbed, but now let's apply that to your office on the 5th floor (instead of the dreaded 22nd floor).  In your average office building, it takes about 22 steps of stairs to get to the next floor (different from flight).  So 22 steps x 5 floors x 0.17 calories = 19 calories.  Now do that twice a day assuming you go out or lunch, and you're looking at close to 40 calories per day by just one change.  And if you did this for every work day, you'd be looking at 5 days x 40 calories x 52 weeks = 10,400 calories.  As one pound of fat is ~3,500 calories, you'd burn the equivalent calories to 3 pounds of fat per year pretty much without doing anything extra in your life besides avoiding the elevator.

Thank God for the upgrade to a suite on the 22nd floor.  Now you can take the stairs up!

Admittedly so, taking the stairs isn't always fun, especially if your office is indeed up on the 22nd floor.  One alternative that I often give to my colleague who don't fancy going up all the way is to take the elevators up to the 11th, then take the stairs for the remainder.  Then tomorrow, take the elevator up to the 10th, and go for 12 flights, and so on.  You'll also save electricity on the way!

Bottom line

Taking the stairs may not seem significant, but the calories can add up over time for a very simple lifestyle change without doing anything really extra.  You're also be decreasing your overall carbon footprint while increasing your steps.  Change happens, one step at a time.


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