Does Taking the Stairs Vs. The Elevator Really Make Much Difference?

One of the most widely shared ways to live a more active lifestyle is to take the stairs whenever you have the option to, but is it really an effective way to burn calories?


Although taking the stairs in and of itself probably won’t help you see a noticeable difference in your weight–unless you live on the tenth floor–even just a flight or two a day will add to your step count, give your heart rate a brief boost, and get your muscles warmed up and activated.

Small Amounts Add Up

Skipping down stairs won’t make a big difference, but going up certainly can. On average, you will burn about 0.17 calories for each stair you climb. So, climbing 10 steps burns about 1.5 calories–not bad for just a few seconds of effort. To do the math, just note that there are generally 12-13 stairs in a flight, which equates to roughly 2.21 calories per flight climbed.

If you live or work on the tenth floor, you will burn about 22.1 calories climbing up to your door. You can add to this number if you’re carrying heavy bags or moving quickly. If you climb these stairs 5 days a week for 50 weeks of the year, you will burn 5525 calories, or just over a pound and a half.

More Than Just Burning A Few Calories

However, the benefit of climbing stairs isn’t all summed up in the amount of calories. Anyone who has climbed stairs before knows that they can instantly activate your body’s biggest muscles, which is why the stair climber is one of the most popular pieces of equipment at the gym. Other benefits include:

  1. Cardiovascular Benefits: Climbing stairs can be a great cardiovascular exercise. It gets your heart rate up and can improve your overall cardiovascular health. Regularly climbing stairs can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation.
  2. Strengthens Leg Muscles: Stair climbing is particularly effective at targeting and strengthening the muscles in your legs, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. It can also help tone your glutes and improve your lower body strength.
  3. Low-Impact Exercise: Compared to running or jumping, stair climbing is a relatively low-impact exercise. This means it puts less stress on your joints, making it a good option for people with joint issues or those who are overweight.
  4. Convenience: One of the best things about stair climbing is that it’s convenient and can be done almost anywhere. You don’t need any special equipment or a gym membership. Whether at home, at work, or out and about, you can take advantage of stairs to squeeze in a quick workout.
  5. Improves Balance and Coordination: Climbing stairs requires balance and coordination, especially when going down. Regularly using the stairs can help improve these skills, which are important for overall physical function and reducing the risk of falls, especially as we age.
  6. Boosts Mental Health: Exercise, including stair climbing, can have positive effects on mental health. It can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost self-esteem. The sense of accomplishment from reaching the top of a long flight of stairs can also be mentally rewarding.

Remember, while taking the stairs alone may not lead to drastic changes in weight, it’s a valuable component of an overall active lifestyle.

Stair Cllimbing

When you climb stairs, even if it doesn’t burn a lot of calories, it does activate your muscles and gets them working. That helps to preserve muscle mass and, over time, even build muscle mass if you are consistently using the stairs and increasing the intensity (by climbing faster, climbing further, or carrying more).

So, to recap, simply taking the stairs in and of itself probably won’t give you your dream body. However, it will help you get into that mindset of living a healthier, more active lifestyle. And, over time, these little changes do add up. As they turn into healthy habits, you will definitely begin to see big changes in the way you look, think, and feel.

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