The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that individuals use up at least 150 calories a day through some type of physical exercise or activity. Climbing stairs is one way to do that. In fact, if you happen to weigh approximately 120 pounds, and you climb stairs for approximately 25 minutes without interruption, you will have burned 144 calories during that amount of time.
If you are looking for an exercise that is convenient, free, and doesn't require any special equipment or clothing, then you should consider stair climbing. Stair climbing can be done outside during good weather or indoors, away from the seasonal elements, helping you to avoid the rain, sleet and snow that might otherwise threaten to derail your workout routine (or calorie-burning goals).
Stair climbing can provide a cardiovascular workout for your heart and can even help strengthen your leg and hip muscles and bones, since it is a weight-bearing exercise. You also can burn 10 calories a minute (or more) by climbing stairs. And for those who choose to exercise this way in their work building--on their lunch break--they get the added benefit of not having to travel elsewhere to work out, or to battle traffic to do it.
Using the calorie burn calculator on the website Internet Fitness.com provides a quick visual on how stair climbing stacks up against other exercises. By imputing data into the calculator (120 pounds for weight, 10 minutes for time), it shows that stair climbing burns 58 calories in 10 minutes, just like downhill skiing and swimming.
Low-impact aerobics only burns 53 calories in 10 minutes. Water aerobics, horseback riding and gymnastics only burn 38 calories each in the same time length, showing how more effective stair climbing is in burning calories.
Body weight makes a significant difference when climbing stairs in order to burn calories. The more you weigh, the more you burn. Whereas a 120-pound person burns 58 calories by stair climbing for 10 minutes, a 150-pound person would burn 72 calories in the same length of time, and a 180-pound person would burn as much as 86 calories.
According to the Surgeon General, 61 percent of adults in the United States were overweight as of 1999, and approximately 300,000 people living in the United States dies each year due to weight-related issues. Therefore, since stair climbing is one of the least costly--and most convenient--ways of reducing calories, it makes sense that the Surgeon General included it (recommending 15 minutes of stair walking a day) in the "Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity" report.