Climbing Stairs - One Step at a Time or Two?

Adie Blanchard | 2014-07-19 08:21:27

Walking up stairs is a great way to improve activity and most of the time we don’t even realise we are doing it! Stairs climbing has even been found to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle function. However, a recent study has suggested that how we climb stairs, either one step at a time or two, may influence the amount of calories we burn in doing so.

The study set out to compare the energy expended between the two different methods of stair climbing, through measuring the participant’s heart rate.

As one would expect, they found climbing flights of stairs two steps at a time to require a higher rate of energy expenditure, due to a higher preferred pace, which can be explained by two step stair climbing requiring more power to lift the body.

However they found total energy expenditure to be greater when climbing stairs one step at a time. Probably due to the one step method increasing the duration of activity or resulting in less economical biomechanics. The study concluded that for those looking to utilise stair climbing specifically to manage weight, climbing stairs one step at a time may result in more calories burned.

Although this study reported interesting findings, it’s probably safe to say that how you climb a standard flight of stairs (such as those at home) won’t make a huge difference to calorie expenditure alone. What’s important here is that we do climb the stairs to keep fit and healthy (including choosing stairs over escalators or lifts!) and not how we climb them that matters.

Adie Blanchard – Researcher